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Whims of Congress, stock market shouldn’t determine vets benefits

By G. Michael Dobbs, Managing Editor
August 22, 2011
Many things bouncing away in my head the day before I take short break. Let’s get to them.
CBS News reported last week that the Pentagon is considering a plan that would alter military pensions and potentially save the government lots of dough. The proposal is to have members of the armed forces start a 401K in which they and the government would make contributions.
My dad, as some readers know, was a 26-year veteran of the Air Force who served in three wars. He used to tell me that it never mattered what recruiters promised. Instead, the benefits a veteran earned strictly depended upon the climate of the Congress when they left the service.
So instead of paying out a set pension of half a person’s salary after 20 years of service, the vets will have to rely on their ability to save and the whims of the stock market. All who served would be eligible for the 401K regardless of how long they served.
The report said there could be a savings of $250 billion over 20 years. Okay, but remember one thing, folks: we pay enlisted personnel so little that many of their families must go on food stamps. Is this a reasonable plan for them?
Congress must approve this measure, which is still in the future. I wonder whom the people who consider themselves supporters of the efforts to defend this country will vote.
This area has plenty of retired members of the armed forces — what do you think of this plan?
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If anyone thought the resignation of Springfield School Superintendent Dr. Alan Ingram would douse the flames of controversy, think again. The move gave mayoral challengers Antonette Pepe and Jose Tosado a new box of matches and a gallon of gasoline.
Now, both candidates can speak of whom they would seek, if elected as mayor, as the new head of the school district — a very potent issue.
Ingram didn’t have to give a school year’s notice, but he did and he handed a great campaign issue to Mayor Domenic Sarno’s opponents.
By the way Dr. Ingram, your refusal to speak about your resignation in interviews to the press is your own decision, but I’m a taxpayer and if you refuse to answer a question from a city resident helping to pay your opulent way that shows your utter contempt for this city, its students and your colleagues.
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Several people have asked this week how things are going in the repairs to my home. I appreciate the concern. My answer is one that too many tornado survivors share: not much.
It’s not for a lack of trying as my wife and I have been seeking estimates. We have a third of the insurance money in hand — our mortgage company is holding the rest for safekeeping.
What I’ve been told is that contractors don’t care much for working on projects in which there is the involvement of a third party when it comes to payment.
I don’t blame them about a wariness of timetables for payment and potential paperwork, but I do have enough dough in my bank account to get the work started.
Can anyone do anything? I don’t know. Clearly it would be great if a government entity of some sort could guarantee the payment to contractors based on the amount of money a person has coming from the insurance company, but I’m sure that kind of arrangement would take a year to put into place and be subject to potential problems.
In the meantime, we will continue trying to find someone to do the work that we cannot do ourselves. Our goal is to get everything fixed before there is snow on the roof.
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A hearty handshake and a celebratory cigar go out to State Rep. Don Humason and his wife Janice upon the arrival of their first child.
Hey, agree with me? Disagree? Drop me a line at news@thereminder.com or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.
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