By GENE H. McINTYRE
It would seem to require a very long stretch to accept at face value what The Oregonian expected its readers to find persuasive on the basis of objectivity when it printed in its March 13 editorial about a former “prominent” retired Oregon Supreme Court justice’s opinion, who now finds it constitutional to limit PERS’ COLAs? Come on, guys, this former state judge is now a private attorney making the really big bucks in his new capacity, advising the Oregon League of Cities, Oregon Department of Justice, and all those in the private sector with a vested financial interest in the future of PERS retirees not getting what they were promised in contract. And now he says there’s constitutionality for change. I’ve got a bridge to sell you, too.
The bottom line here is that private citizen W. Michael Gillette cannot be considered a credible source any longer because he has a personal stake in reputation and counsel as a private attorney working for private causes, or public ones for that matter, that support those in the exclusive, closed-circle establishment. In other words, his future in the private sector, making oodles more money than at a state agency, is dependent upon his coming to the aid and abet of the state’s elite, the state’s wealthy and the state’s powerful and influential, those whose legacy and personal future in the private sector will be enhanced and embellished by Chinese-water-torture-slaying those pesky PERS people.
Other PERS retirees besides me may wish to sit back and bask in the sun of an expected brighter day when the Oregon Supreme Court, as currently constituted, without Gillette, may decide to disagree with one of its former members. Whatever the outcome, I can say with a certainty based on experience in Oregon and elsewhere that if it comes to pass that cutting PERS’ COLAs is approved, then every PERS retiree in this state can anticipate a very real future in which the entire Public Employee Retirement System, by the torture system aforementioned, that is, taking benefits away one “drop” at a time, is ultimately ended and there’s no longer a monthly check in the mail.
Social justice and legal contract established by the Social Security Act (1935) are under more fire than ever before, while the Act’s subsequent 1960s amendments, including Medicare, Medicaid and other provisions, are also threatened with extinction. Oregon’s PERS is just another nail in the coffin of general help to those in need of income after retirement, structured in this case by those who contributed to it by way of 25 to 30 years of work in service to the people of the state of Oregon.
All these forays by the water carriers of the national and state GOP organizations forebode a time again, like that in America before the 1930s, when the poor, the sick, the handicapped and the seniors are destitute and without means. Is that what we, the PERS’ retirees in this case, suggested by candidate-for-President Romney as among the 47 percent wastrels, those outside the exclusive circle of the wealthy elites and those aspiring to same status, want for most of the citizens of what is rapidly becoming the former wealthiest nation with no high paying attorney job to go to after age catches up?
(Gene H. McIntyre lives in Keizer.)