Sunday, October 19, 2014

Wyoming Liberty Group threatens state retirement plans

A big thanks to Patrick Crank for his fiery op-ed in Saturday's Wyoming Tribune-Eagle, "Liberty Group threatens state retirement plans."

Crank, a local attorney and former attorney general of Wyoming, attended the Wyoming Liberty Group's "Pension Reform Summit" Oct. 6 in Cheyenne. In case you don't know, the Liberty Group is a right-wing fringe organization funded by ultra-conservative Texas gazillionaire Susan Gore. Its sole purpose, it seems, is to destroy the state's excellent retirement system to further marginalize the state's workers.

About 25 firefighters covered by the state retirement plan showed up at this so-called summit. They were denied entrance. Crank and one other retired firefighter finally were allowed to observe the meeting. Keynote speaker was State Rep. Donald Burkhart (R-Rawlins). Rep. Burkhart has a seat on the powerful House Appropriations Committee and was selected by the speaker of the house to serve as liaison to the Wyoming Retirement Board.

He was joined at the summit by a batch of Republican lawmakers. Two of them are legislative liaisons to the Retirement Board: Sen. Curt Meier (R-LaGrange) and Rep. Mike Madden (R-Buffalo), The others were Republican representatives Sue Wilson of Cheyenne and Marti Halverson of Etna and Republican senator Cale Case of Lander. Not sure where the Democrats were, especially those from Laramie County, home to a majority of state workers. Perhaps their invitations were lost in the mail.

Who else was at the meeting?
Other than these legislators, virtually everyone else at the meeting appeared to be either Liberty Group staff and members and paid out-of-state lobbyists.
This is a key element of the Liberty Group -- its funded by out-of-state money, run by out-of-staters and it employs out-of-state lobbyists in an attempt to destroy Wyoming's excellent retirement system. One has to wonder why all of these people from Texas and Colorado and elsewhere don't have something else to do, such as foreclosing on widows and gaming the stock market. They're doing that too. I'm just surprised that they have time for little ol' Wyoming retirees.

Patrick Crank wonders about that too:
Why are ultra-rich right-wing groups, financed by multi-billionaires, attacking our ability to have a reasonable income during our golden years? 
Why are they attacking our children's ability to obtain a reasonable retirement plan for their years of work yet to come?
We also have to wonder why so many of our Republican legislators are eager to sign on to the Liberty Group/Susan Gore agenda? Yes, they hate gubment and think state employees such as myself are bums. These right-wingers are angry as hell and aren't going to take it anymore. Just why they are angry when they seem to have it all is another question entirely.

Republican-dominated and sparsely-populated Wyoming must seem like a juicy test case for these out-of-state interests. They may look at us as some sort of backwater that can be turned into a colony for oligarchs served by an army of compliant serfs who get paid peanuts and go into their golden years without a farthing. We are, after all, the state with the highest number of billionaires per capita. Hey, it's only six, but all of their pals are looking to the future to see how subservient they can make the population, how compliant they can make our Republican-dominated legislature.

Crank wrapped up his op-ed succinctly:
It is wrong that ultra-right-wing millionaires, with the assistance of elected representatives like Mr. Burkhart, have chose to attack this benefit of work life that has served the United States well for the last century.
It is wrong.

Time to talk to your legislator about this issue. BTW, Rep. Burkhart's e-mail is You can find more e-mails and phone numbers of legislators at Wyoming LegisWeb.

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