The “Doctor” Needs Guidance

Bill Neinast

This may be a surprise to some of you, or probably to most of you.  Did you know that Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, all retired U.S. Congressmen, all retired civil servants of the state and federal government, all Texas retired teachers, and all legless or armless veterans on 100% VA disability are socialists?

This revelation came to me through these comments from a reader, “Your O6 (colonel) military retirement pay is at least 100K per year. I know my son is O5 (lieutenant colonel). You probably also have Medicare, Social Security, and VA benefits. How can you publicly bemoan “socialism” when your “nest egg” is just that. Shame on you. 

So if I am a socialist because my earned income comes from the government, are not all the other Americans with retirement income from the federal or state government also socialists?

The reader’s comments are both sad and funny.  They are sad in part because the name at the bottom of the comments had the suffix, “M.D.”  If there is a practicing physician out there operating on assumed facts, a lack of logic, and no economic comprehension, pity his patients.

First, I have earned, not been given, a comfortable retirement from the federal government, but it is not nearly as generous as the reader thinks.  Military retirement is based on the pay scales in effect when the service member retires.  Today, the pay scale for the reader’s lieutenant colonel may be double what mine was when I retired as a colonel 40 years ago.

Second, retired pay, from whatever source, is earned.  It is not a socialist freebie like food stamps or Medicaid.

Two of my sons are executives with Bank of America and Haliburton.  They will soon retire and, like me, will start enjoying retirement from funds set up and contributed to by both employer and employee.   Just as I am drawing funds from a retirement fund that I have been contributing to in income and social security taxes since the day I graduated college 67 years ago.

Third, the reader exhibits a lack of understanding of economics and politics.  Socialism encourages and recognizes dependency, while capitalism (now becoming a bad word) encourages and rewards self- sufficiency.

The reader’s comments are funny because of their lack of logic and facts.

What kind of logic leads to a conclusion that the source of one’s retirement income dictates that person’s political philosophy?  What kind of logic distinguishes retirement earned from the government from retirement earned from a corporation?  What kind of logic equates earning retirement through work with applying for welfare because it’s easier than working?

So to this reader who appears to have no real concept of  the business world, here is a little primer on economics.

Retirement, whether from a business or the federal or state government,  is based on contracts.  Retirees agreed with their employer, whether in writing or by implication, that if they work—and the crucial word here is work—for a specified number of years or until a specified age, they can quit coming to the shop or office but still receive compensation of some type on a regular basis.

How can anyone who understands that basic concept of labor law conclude that the source of a retired worker’s retirement income determines or dictates his political philosophy?

So here’s the perspective.

The reader’s comments discussed here have been a source of both humor and concern.

The humor was in the twisted or complete lack of logic and the use of unverified “facts” to draw conclusions.

The concern is over the very real good possibility that the writer is a voter.   His political philosophy or affiliation is not the concern.  With the demonstrated lack of logic, drawing conclusions on unverified facts, and unfamiliarity with basic political philosophies, how does he decide for whom or what to vote?

I believe that, unfortunately, there are too many voters like that showing up at the polls.



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