Efforts to Protect Rocky Flats Retiree Benefits

[Note: My first newsletter, which was recently sent to Rocky Flats retirees, dealt with upcoming changes to Rocky Flats retiree benefits and contained some of the content of the following posting.]


Signup for Newsletter

Firstly, I want to mention that readers can signup to have future RockyFlatsFacts.com (RFF.com) newsletters on RF benefits and other issues sent directly to your email by typing your email address into the box in the upper right sidebar of this website’s landing page (just below, “Get RFF.com Newsletter”), and clicking the “Subscribe” button. You will receive an email asking you to confirm your subscription – which you need to reply to – in order to complete the signup process. (Of course, I won’t spam you or give your email address to others, and you can unsubscribe at any time, no hard feelings.)

I’m unsure at this point how many future RFF.com newsletters might be forthcoming since it will depend both on the availability of new information and the level of reader interest. There’s only about a month remaining until RF retirees should receive details of the new 2015 RF benefit plans by mail and that announcement will be followed by about six weeks until (Nov. 30, 2014) retirees are required to sign up…or lose health insurance coverage.

I mentioned in a recent commentary on this website that I was alerted to some efforts to reverse the recent move by the Department of Energy (DOE) to reduce medical insurance benefits for Rocky Flats retirees and/or their spouses who are 65 and older. I have received messages about efforts to forestall these retiree benefits changes. One message contained a link to a letter to Congress asking for exemption from the new changes for people who retired from Rocky Flats prior to 1995.

However, I have since received a personal email message that “…our letter seems to be falling on deaf ears. Politicians don’t seem to have much interest in an election year…We have also contacted an attorney and discussed legal action but don’t feel there are sufficient grounds to do so.” Don’t lose your health insurance waiting for someone to stop this! Perhaps something can still be done, and I’m certain many people are thinking of what that might be. Be prepared for the likely outcome that such efforts will fail and make certain you complete the sign up requirements ahead of the deadline.

I’m well aware that some retirees won’t be helped by a decision to defer or eliminate the benefits changes for pre-1995 retirees: I happen to be in that group. I had the “pre-1995” benefits until I returned to work at Rocky Flats as a “second-tier contractor.” I was required to forego my no-cost medical insurance benefits to be able to return to work at Rocky Flats. I still remember how upset I was. I expect many pre-1995 RF retirees may feel that same anxiety being forced to cope with this current benefits change.

I will once again recommend that affected Rocky Flats retirees review the new health insurance options carefully and be prepared to sign up for a “less generous” (i.e., higher upfront cost) medical insurance coverage. The no-action alternative is to lose all Rocky Flats benefits if retirees don’t sign up before the November 30, 2014 deadline. The letter in the above link does a fine job of expressing the feelings of many pre-1995 retirees.

On a contrary note, I have also received email comments to this weblog from pre-1995 Rocky Flats retirees who believe that the retirees should not be “complaining.” Their opinion, in brief, is that pre-1995 RF retirees have enjoyed many, many years of benefits far more generous than those of most retirees in the “private sector.” I mention this in the interest of fairness and diversity of opinion. Remember that I have no official capacity on this subject and am only attempting to be a conduit for information and community feedback on this challenging issue.

Important endnote: Please be aware that I’m not providing any legal, financial, or retirement planning advice nor do I profess any special expertise and am not acting in any official capacity to disseminate Rocky Flats retiree benefits information. Please conduct your own due diligence in this matter and consult your attorney or financial planning professional, as needed, before making important benefits decisions.

Notice about Expression (and Review) Blog Page(s)

The Expressions and Review weblog pages of RockyFlatsFacts.com have been experiencing technical problems that are forcing their migration to a different blogging platform. Access to the blog pages has been disrupted (for both you and me) several times over the past few weeks, and made it a challenge to meet my regular Wednesday schedule to post new reviews, expressions, and commentaries.

We are busy battling further service disruptions and transferring content from current weblog pages to our new platform, and intend to transition completely to the new platform as soon as practicable. Regular readers of this page will probably notice a few format and content improvements, which we hope you will appreciate. We are attempting a smooth transition and ask your indulgence for any temporary glitches over the next week or two.

I expect to get back into my regular posting routine as soon as transfer to the new platform is completed.

Animal Farm

This book by Eric Blair writing under the pseudonym of George Orwell is a departure from the usual non-fiction books reviewed at this web site. The book is even subtitled “A Fairy Story.” However, the story is based on the reality of the brutality of Stalin and the Soviet Union. Orwell had first-hand experience with the conflict between Stalin and Trotsky when he was serving as a foot soldier with Communist forces fighting the Fascists during the Spanish Civil War. He was wounded in the throat by a bullet during combat, but miraculously survived. He then narrowly escaped the Stalinist purge of his Trotsky infantry unit which resulted in execution or imprisonment of those who did not escape. A review of the book “Homage to Catalonia” was posted in May 2011 for those interested in the full story.

Russell Baker wrote a wonderful Preface for Animal Farm, and I intend to use that freely. Stalin had worked diligently to destroy every trace of Trotsky’s contribution to the Russian revolution, and that resulted in millions of people being executed or imprisoned in the Gulag where death was almost certain from the conditions of slave labor. The Stalinists drained the Spanish treasury of gold during this time, but weren’t satisfied with that. They insisted that their allies, including the Trotskyites and Anarchists helping them fight Franco’s Fascists, had to be vilified for supposed support of Franco. That led to the executions and imprisonment of thousands who had fought at the side of the Stalinists. Those actions paved the way for the eventual victory of Franco’s forces. Orwell was quite angry from what he had observed. He was alarmed that “decent people in the Western democracies had succumbed to a dangerously romantic view of the Russian revolution that blinded them to the Soviet reality.” He wrote Animal Farm to warn the world about the immorality of Stalinism. Continue reading

The Whole Kit and Caboodle

The web site unm.edu (from the Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins by Robert Hendrickson) explains that this is an American expression meaning the “whole lot” The definition of the word “boodle” is the same as “a pile of money.” Americans modified the phrase “kit and caboodle,” because it sounds better than “kit and boodle.” Other sites had more complicated descriptions, but I liked this one.

Game Over, How You Can Prosper in a Shattered Economy

This book by Stephen Leeb is the second recent review about the inevitability of an economic collapse. The review of the book posted last week predicts what will happen in the United States compared to what happened in Russia after the Soviet Union collapsed. That book provided little guidance other than encouraging stockpiling of food, medicine, and barter goods. There is advice in “Game Over” on how to be best prepared for predicted collapse caused by runaway inflation and shortages of commodities.“Growing numbers of the world’s 6.6 billion people are now actively seeking to equal Americans’ high consumption lifestyle…” There are limits to all commodities, and governments and central banks are not acting as if they have the restraint necessary to keep inflation under control.

Peak and decline of oil supplies and inadequacies of alternative energy production are likely to cause energy production to fail to keep up with the world’s appetite. Replacing carbon fuels with wind is impossible, because there isn’t enough iron oxide to build enough towers and turbines. It is not yet clear whether solar cells produce a net gain in energy. Thin film photovoltaics require cadmium telluride, and there isn’t a wealth of that available in the world. Producing energy by converting corn into ethanol uses more energy than is gained and making fuel out of food when there is a shortage of food is, to be kind, idiotic.   Continue reading

At Stake

This idiom is usually used as a financial term to describe an amount of money that was put at risk in a bet or business venture. It is speculated that it originated with the brutal practice of tethering a bear to a stake and turning dogs loose to attack it. Apparently the bets would be placed on whether the dogs or the bear would be killed. The money that was bet was called “at the stake,” or “at stake.”