Monday, December 10, 2012

Ingram, etc., etc., etc.

Quisling (Dick Ingram etc.,etc.,etc.)

Noun: The origin of the word “quisling” is derived from a Norwegian politician named Vidkun Quisling, who collaborated with the invading Nazi forces during World War II in order to secure himself a leadership position in the occupier’s government in Norway.   While Quisling’s actions may have been the result of both conscientious and delusional beliefs that he could assist in a difficult situation, his name has become synonymous with traitor, apostate, collaborator, and other unseemly characteristics.

Once again, titular head of TRS Dick Ingram has taken center stage to remind the audiences that there are solutions to the crisis faced by State of Illinois and its pension problems.  Remember please that we have been here before; in fact, just last October Mr. Ingram created a tempest by suggesting that the COLA’s were likely the most expensive and most deservedly scrutinized issue in Illinois politicians’ looking for significant areas to “diminish or impair.”   

After push back from frightened and concerned retirees that Mr. Ingram was placing himself in an uncomfortable if not unethical position as negotiator, Mr. Ingram responded that he was only identifying the obvious.  He replied that he was just pointing out what had been only a roll call vote away from being accomplished in the General Assembly.

When Ingram was later taken to task (again) by the TRS Board for making statements which might undermine the confidence or faith in the TRS to manage retirement funds – the principle job of the service – Ingram was described as having agreed no longer to offer his own personalized compromises or concessions.  His job specifically was the management of TRS funds and investments, not a vocal or public seeker of solutions to the problems caused by decades of underfunding by the State.

Of course, all of this was after an even earlier foray into the world of public negotiations in April of 2012, when Ingram reported to everyone that the pension funds were headed toward insolvency – a statement repeated by members of the General Assembly and often quoted by Ty Fahner, the head of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago.  Ingram tried to qualify his suggestion later by explaining that such a scenario would be certain if funding from the State were to dry up.

And now, once again, Ingram in this week's Chicago Tribune has decided to explain anew the need for everyone to partake in a “shared sacrifice,” just as the younger members of the House have generated HB6258, a proposed bill that would raise the age of retirement, increase contributions, negate the cost-of-living allowances, and force a shift in pension costs to the local districts. 

Is this the sacrifice to which Ingram alludes?  Is this just one more case of his thinking aloud?  In any case, his allusions have become more urgent: describing important kernels of truth in Squeezy the pension python’s message, reminding us once again of the potential insolvency of TRS, of not being able to keep our members’ retirement promises, that fixing the problem for the young teacher fixes it for everyone, etc. 

Exploiting pronoun ambiguity, Ingram exhorts, “ We are at our best when we think of the future instead of the present, especially when the present is challenging and difficult.  When we sacrifice for the next generation, we do great things for today.  Who among us would not strive, I lean times and good times, to make the future better for our children and grandchildren?”  Who is “WE?” Certainly it was not the General Assembly, then or now.  Certainly it was not the leadership in the Governor’s office in Illinois.  Almost as certainly, Ingram would have us ignore the legal framework upon which our benefits rest in some security in order to open the doors to concession, a door he has propped open on every occasion he can find.

Ingram is a problem.

1 comment:

  1. Simply stated, it means that WE will be asked to choose between two things, and some people will naively answer incorrectly. (When offered to choose between two destructive evils, the correct answer is NO.)
    "Will WE keep COLA and surrender healthcare, or will WE keep healthcare and surrender COLA?"

    Also, the TRS needs to stop acting like weenies and fire Ingram. Then everyone will know that he is not one of WE.