September 4, 2009
Good for AT&TMy mom is an AT&T retiree. She has been for quite a few years now. She recently got a letter from the company. In the midst of the debate over Obamacare, I thought it was worth noting.
Dear AT&T Retiree:
Your years of service to AT&T are highly valued, and I am pleased to tell you that we are able to continue to provide you with some of the best retiree health care coverage in America---health care that is heavily subsidized by the Company at a level far greater than that offered by the vast majority of other companies.
The terms of your coverage will be unchanged over the next three years. As always, the Company reserves the right to make changes after this period and adjustments made necessary as a result of changes in the law.
Again, I want you to know that everyone at AT&T appreciates your efforts on behalf of our customers during your years of service and your ongoing efforts in retirement to support the Company.
Marty R. Webb
AT&T is a very large and prosperous company. And it is apparently trying hard to be a good corporate citizen. A little more of that in this country wouldn't hurt anything.
I'm reminded of Henry Ford. Henry was adamantly opposed to government social programs---even during the Great Depression. But he busted his hump to do for his employees.
Now, it is important to point out that there are no free lunches. Retiree health care benefits, as the letter points out, are "heavily subsidized" by the corporation. Translated, that means consumers of AT&T products, because of the company's commitment to its retirees, are paying a little more for what they get. In a sense, the corporation taxes its consumer base in order to take care of its past employees.
Do I have a problem with that? No I do not. I would much rather pay a dollar a month more for a cellphone so AT&T retirees can have health care than hand tax money over to that bunch of blockheads in Washington.
Beyond that, there is choice involved with the AT&T system. I can, if you will, opt-out of my "tax burden" relative to the support of company retirees. In other words, I can buy what I want from the company or nothing at all. If I figure I can't afford a cellphone, I don't have to get one.
Uncle Sam's system doesn't work that way. If he decides to tax me, I have no choice but to pay.
It ain't a perfect world. And so far, I've heard no single perfect proposal relative to health care reform. I don't believe there is a "silver bullet." I believe health care reform will have to come part and parcel. Businesses have to step up and be part of the mosaic. AT&T is setting a good example.
Posted 1 week, 4 days ago on September 4, 2009
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