I’ve now had nearly 24 hours to absorb the fact that the cost of living, for Federal military and civilian retirees and those on Social Security, didn’t change this year. My “Notice of Annuity Adjustment” for 2010 arrived yesterday and it was like someone hit me with a cattle prod between the eyes.
The cost of living increased 1.5% for Federal employees (with San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA getting a 35.15% increase and other historically under-paid or retention-troubled “localities” getting 14.16%), which is strange since they live in the same United States economy and buy the same products from the same sources as retirees, and have mortgages and own cars and buy clothes and eat and have medical bills (wait, on average, retirees have higher medical expenses) and have children (wait, a lot of retirees are raising their good-for-nothing children’s children while trying to help those good-for-nothing children straighten out their good-for-nothing lives—I know, their choice and they could refuse, but it’s about the grandCHILDREN), pay for health insurance (has anybody’s premium ever gotten smaller?), buy gas (is that cheaper yet?) and live on 40% of what they made as a Federal military or civilian employee.
Now I agree that a cost of living increase is not a right, and I acknowledge that there are mega-millions of people who haven’t had a raise in the past 30 years, and I know there are 999,999,999 people out of work, and there are people getting kicked out of their homes because they can’t pay their mortgage, and there are people starving on the street right outside my house (and I’m going outside right now to feed them, give them the clothes off my back, and escort them into my guestroom where they will live rent-free for the rest of their natural lives), and for the last gazillion years the cost of living adjustment (COLA) for Federal military and civilian retirees and Social Security has been based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and this year the Obama and the CPI say that “for the quarter ending September 30, 2009 [the CPI] did not increase when compared with the same index for the third quarter in 2008 [so] no COLA is payable in 2010.”
All the arguments against my hope and expectations that I would get a measly $50 more per month to offset the $23.02 monthly increase in my insurance premium, as well as all the increases in co-pays, deductibles, and co-insurance amounts, are incontrovertible. I won’t try to argue with anybody that this was a bad decision and must be changed immediately, boo hoo for me, how could “they” do this, this isn’t fair. No, I’m made of sterner stuff than that; I’ll deal with the fallout. I think it sucks, but I play by the rules, and the rules say no COLA.
And from what I’ve read, Citizen Joe is very happy about it. Of course, Citizen Joe hates any of “his money” being used to pay Federal employees or the people who worked like slaves all their professional lives for a third of what they could have made in the private sector BECAUSE THEY BELIEVED IN WHAT THEY DID. Citizen Joe thinks all Federal employees are lazy pigs feeding out of a never-ending trough of his money by virtue of some bad news-worthy piggies. Ah, guilt by association; but if you must insist, Citizen Joe, beware: I was once a giant she-boar with sharp tusks who rampaged through the dark Government forest keeping the underbrush clear on your behalf and I defy your spears.
Fortunately, my “IRS tax withholding rates have changed for payments made after December 31, 2009,” saving me $27.50 a month, which gives me a net increase of $4.48 per month (or a total of $53.76 for the year) to deal with (off the top of my pointy head):
(1) an increase in property taxes on my home for 2010,
(2) an increase in homeowner’s association dues for 2010,
(3) an increase in my homeowner’s insurance premium for 2010,
(4) an increase in the flood insurance premium on my home for 2010,
(5) an increase in my automobile insurance for 2010,
(6) the 28% increase in my electricity bill just authorized for 2010,
(7) the new roof I need next year,
(8) all the other maintenance my 15 year old home needs,
(9) and all the non-deductible interest I’ll be paying as my debt increases.
I want to meet the individual, family, organization or company whose expenses, consumption, prices or cost of living stayed the same or decreased in the past year. I don’t think they exist. I think the CPI statistics, like all statistics, can be made to say what you want them to say; add this, omit that, and viola! Stability!
Now I understand completely why little old ladies ended up eating cat food in the past. However, in today’s economy, cat food is out of my price range.
So as for stimulating the economy, Obama; I won’t be able to help you out, dude. Those starving people I just adopted may soon be back out on the street, and I may be right beside them, begging bowl in hand.