Buried in the News

Most Memphians probably didn’t pay any attention to the recent blow dealt city retirees here.

Those who had served the city well had as part of their retirement package a $5,000 death benefit. It goes to a designated beneficiary, usually to pay funeral costs.

On July 11, letters went out from the Human Resources Department indicating that “we were not able to find enough revenue to cover the $500,000 expense.” Subsequently, the benefit has been dropped and “we hope you will understand that the decision to cut this benefit in no way expresses how we feel about the services you have provided the city…This cut is part of the shared sacrifice we are all being asked to make as we deal with the city’s tough financial situation.”

“Shared sacrifice” – where have I heard that before? That’s what Obama says when he asks middle class people to hand over more of their paycheck, while 50% of the population doesn’t share and pays nothing.

As two letter writers to the paper said this morning, many of these people are on fixed incomes and cannot afford to lose this benefit. “I know this seems like a small amount for us to have to cover now on our own, but how many insurance companies do you know who will offer us an insurance policy at a very low rate for people over 70? None,” writes Gloria Pilgrim.

The letter following points out that the Shelby County Commission members voted $16,000 in free lunches for themselves. Evidently “shared sacrifice” didn’t apply to them. They didn’t want to give up even $5-10 for their own lunch!

Since the dead are voting here less and less, thanks to a Republican takeover of the Election Commission, it seems the thinking was that this is an easy budget target. It’s sad.

When you’re dependent on the government or fettered to it unwillingly as many of us are, it’s axiomatic. The government giveth, and the government taketh away.

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