Lesson to learn — it’s usually not their fault. Case in point:
Donald Cardin became a firefighter at age 20 in Central Falls, R.I., a town just north of Providence that filed for bankruptcy in 2011. He was making $60,000 a year as a fire chief before retiring at age 42 in 2007 to take care of his wife Lana, diagnosed with thymic carcinoma, a rare cancer with extremely low survival rates.
The couple relied on Cardin’s health insurance, which required no copay, to cover Lana’s $8,000-a-month treatment. Cardin worked a part-time contracting job to make up the difference between his $34,000-a-year pension and his former salary.
But that all changed in 2011 when Cardin, and his fellow firefighters and policemen, were called to a meeting at the local high school, where state-appointed receiver Robert Flanders warned them that the city would not have enough money to survive if pensions were not cut. Weeks later the city would file for bankruptcy.
“After a lifetime of service, with the stroke of a pen, Judge Flanders changes the rest of our lives and doesn’t care,” said Cardin.
In the wake of the fiscal bump in the road, much was left undone in fixing the economy while paying down some of the outstanding debt.
A lot of trial balloons are being floated, and I want to focus on one for now: Social Security.
The Year In Review
(stories you may have missed because you were out snorting blow and banging hookers)
Good government advocates (like myself) believe the farm bill needs to be all but abolished. There is no reason for corn prices to be subsidized. There is no real reason for dairy prices to be subsidized, either, except for helping families afford milk for their kids. Milk prices could double (probably even higher, given how corn is such an integral part of feed prices) and put a real crimp in working families’ budgets.
2) The number of journalists jailed worldwide broke a record this year. In a world where democracy seems to be taking greater root, this is an unhealthy development.
3) The Antarctic is warming three times faster than expected. Hurricane Sandy was just a prelude.
5) If you were hoping for a breakthrough in Middle East peace next year, don’t count on it. Believe it or not, there’s a conservative crazier than Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel who could impact the elections next year and win the prime ministership.
7) Nearly a thousand species have gone extinct since man started exploring the planet in the 17th century. Here’s a tribute to them.
8) As healthcare prices have soared over the past ten years, people are taking less and less care of themselves. Exhibit A.
Salon, By Natasha Lennard
Nearly one-third of Americans say they plan to work into their 80s since they can’t afford to retire earlier, according to a Harris Institute survey.
As Bonnie Kavoussi noted in the Huffington Post, “Retirement is becoming an unaffordable luxury for a growing number of middle-class Americans.” She attributes the increasing inability to retire at 65 and live decently to the middle-class squeeze of recent decades — a mixture of inflation, productivity increases and stagnating wages: