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Participant ○○

Re: Bob and Juris: Be careful out there

Yes, BC/BS of Michigan has been excellent for me. It will take some time to clue in my various healthcare-suppliers. They're also changing the Rx plan, no? I'm going to study what's online again -- the various insurances including Rx, dental, and vision care.

Rx will use the same Humana card for Medicare coverage.

.

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Re: Bob and Juris: Be careful out there

Juris,

Humana includes a Medicare Part D plan. I haven't seen the formulary yet.

Just in case you haven't seen this:

https://hr.msu.edu/benefits/healthcare/humana-faqs.html

Bob

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Re: Bob and Juris: Be careful out there

Running a university as a business is important. Product quality and reputation matter to revenue. That said, the huge growth in services -- and the number of "offices for" -- has become a huge drag on budgets. Too many "offices for . . . ."

 

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Re: Bob and Juris: Be careful out there

Too many "offices for . . . ."

How true. How true. How true!

Bob

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Re: Bob and Juris: Be careful out there


@Juris2 wrote:

Bob, something new!

This is a shocker. Since before I began to participate in this program in 1975, the university contribution was 10% on top of the employee's required contribution of 5% of gross salary. I enjoyed this "15%" per month contribution to TIAA for 39 years until I retired.


I am not shocked at all. In Wilkes College then (same time period), I would have paid 100% of TIAA and BCBS. So, within 2 years, I moved to UK(KY), where they shared 6% and I had to pay 6% in 1981. They also paid a small amount to BCBS also. Then, thanks to Lamar Alexander, TNTECH offered 100% of TIAA or 12% TCRS and 90% of BCBS. I moved to TNTECH. So, benefit package is also important. But, so many states promised too much but couldn't deliver. Tenn. is not one of them. But. look IL and Chicago, and many others who are on the brink of bankruptcy. People of the state have a right to negate those excesses and fringe benefits based on the taxes. So, the politicians listen to those people - does not matter which party - and act accordingly. I think that MSU is taking the right step.

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Re: Bob and Juris: Be careful out there

When I was a graduate student, I toured the major buildings of my rather large university because I was curious.  This was in the second half of the 1970s. 

About five years ago, I did the same thing; including the new buildings, building expansions, renovated buildings, old buildings, etc.  The change was amazing.  It was as if the university buildings got a major upgrade.

But I noticed one other thing that was even more amazing to me.  There were dozens of "office for..." in the hallways, here and there. It was not this way in the 1970s, at least not to this extent, not even close.  I left the campus thinking that it is an ungovernable out-of-control entity.  Yes, there are much bigger entities in the world but they are not administered the way a large state university is in my state.  Most of them are structured differently.

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Re: Bob and Juris: Be careful out there

When I first came to MSU I thought there were more gardeners than students.

When I left MSU it seemed that there were more administrators than gardeners, students, and faculty.

By the way, MSU just celebrated a $6 million renovation to the President's residence, not to mention the hefty severance package of the former president, as well as her ongoing legal fees, as well as the ongoing litigation and payments associated with Larry Nasser.

All that money could eliminate poverty in Michigan. 

Bob

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Re: Bob and Juris: Be careful out there

I know that more and more buildings have become necessity, and all our parking lots and empty lands are disappearing in TNTECH. But, look at the growth of the students. There were only 6000 students then. Engineering was of course dominant with 2500 students, and business college was second. The Arts and Science school offered essentially services courses for us. Now, I read last week that the number of students have gone up to 13k+. There is no space for Engineering students, specifically Lab space. I understand that they are clearing an empty space opposite of another engineering building (named after the president who hired me) where there is going to be a (fourth - fifth - I forgot the Dean's office building - It has a lots of class rooms and computer facilities) new Engineering building. The money has been alloted by the State Board, and the construction should begin soon. Some one has donated $8 million to the new project. Yes, you need more people and faculty to take care of these students. That means that university needs more offices too. If they have to serve them properly, the universities needs more office help also - other than academic offices also. Let us be honest. Otherwise, how will the university manage these people?

 

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Re: Bob and Juris: Be careful out there

We are talking about different things, Nat.  Tennessee has experienced very significant population growth like some other states in the South and the West.  This is not the case for my state and some other states.  My state's population has increased a small amount since the 1970s.  Compared to the 1970s, the university where I received my graduate degrees has about the same or slightly lower enrollment nowadays. 

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Re: Bob and Juris: Be careful out there


@GLI2019 wrote:

When I first came to MSU I thought there were more gardeners than students.

When I left MSU it seemed that there were more administrators than gardeners, students, and faculty.

By the way, MSU just celebrated a $6 million renovation to the President's residence, not to mention the hefty severance package of the former president, as well as her ongoing legal fees, as well as the ongoing litigation and payments associated with Larry Nasser.

All that money could eliminate poverty in Michigan. 

Bob


I know well that you keep up with MSU. So, I cannot say much about Michigan.

Going back to the latest subject matter, Tenn. changed the law in the first term of Haslam so that TCRS will be only 50%, and the other 50% will come from the pockets of the new hirees. But, the faculty money will go to a 401(k), and the faculty has the control as to how they invest that half. I believe that it came into effect in 2012 or 2103. This new formula was essential after our great recession, and Tenn. immediately adopted to the new situation.

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Re: Bob and Juris: Be careful out there

Juris (and others born between 1929 and 1945),

A passage in a New Yorker (August 31) profile of one of our Presidential candidates provides interesting sociological/demographic insight as to why many in our age cohort (even teachers in the humanities like myself) have done so well compared to those currently employed and those in the job market.  The passage centers on,

"Americans born between the Great Depression and the end of the Second World War, who were too young to have fought overseas and too old to lead the counterculture.  To be born in America in 1942 as a white heterosexual male was, generally speaking, to win a cosmic lottery.  Because of low birth rates during the Depression and the war, the generation was exceptionally small -- the first in American history to be smaller than the one before it.  Its members enjoyed more attention and resources from their parents, smaller class sizes, and high rates of college admission.  The New Deal and the G.I. Bill gave them benefits, loans, and federal work programs, which thrust millions of white Americans into the middle class.  The sociologist Elwood Carlson, assessing their fortunes in his book "The Lucky Few," described an age when American companies expanded workforces, built pensions, and distributed stock -- a combination that produced "the financially luckiest generation of the twentieth century."

"Their advantages shaped their ideas about government, money, race, and opportunity.  They were a homogeneous lot; nearly nine out of ten were white and born in the United States.  They tended, as Carlson put it, to "view their successes in life as their own achievements, rather than thinking in terms of the social context that made their success possible."

Generous retirement packages like those you (and I) enjoyed at MSU are very likely a thing of the past as are, to a large extent many, if not most, tenured professorships.   We did not have to live as "adjunct" faculty like one of my former graduate students who, as an itinerant scholar, had to travel between and cobble together a set of courses at three different colleges in Western New York to support his family.  His "office" was the trunk of his car where he kept books and student paper.  He had no benefits.   Consider, in this regard, current job seekers and a recent report of the large numbers of those in their twenties who cannot afford housing and are living at home with their parents.

In many respects, then, you, I, and many who post on this board lucked out.

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Re: Bob and Juris: Be careful out there

Born in 1942, Benjamin, I do know that I lucked out and, as a consequence, have always felt the need to share beyond family with some of the "extra"--all the more so during this pandemic.

It also helped to have intelligent parents, some very good mentors and teachers, and to have lived during the Golden Age of California when so many resources were available and affordable. 

It was the University of Washington that pulled it all together. 

Gratitude is foremost in my mind. 

Bob

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Re: Bob and Juris: Be careful out there

There's maybe a deeper causal agent. To be born in 1942 or 1944 or 1945 meant that your parents were both alive and close to home during your early childhood. Your father probably did not serve in the War but may have worked in war industry. I had a brother born in 1942, I came along in 1944, another brother in 1945, yet another 1952 -- and at last a sister in 1960. My father was an aeronautical engineer (engineering degree at UConn in 1937), worked in war-related jobs on the home front (some drawing on his practical skills with tools and motors learned in his father's autobody shop). His younger brothers both joined the army but served in noncombatant roles (one in the South Pacific, one in the US), drawing on their technical educations (geology, surveying, etc.).

So I guess we had it easy.

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Re: Bob and Juris: Be careful out there

In a general sense, obviously with some differences among institutions and academic fields, it's always seemed to me that the generation of faculty who got hired/tenured in the 1960s, during a great boom in demand for higher education, had the best of all worlds, i.e., a really fine combination of meaningful work, decent compensation, and job security.

The next generation: still a good life but with some added institutional demands and job stresses and the beginnings of a change in the conception of what universities, especially public universities, were supposed to be about, i.e., service to "The Economy" instead of education as a social and personal good in its own right.

And the current generation of young faculty, facing cuts in retirement program funding, increases in medical insurance premiums, decreasing tenure-track positions/increasing bad pay/no-benefit adjunct positions, combined with administrative demands to teach more class sections and do more self-funding research--the academic equivalent of an industrial line speed-up--well, I sometimes wonder how they keep their mental balance and energy reserves, and I very often wonder how/if they have any time for a quality home life.

Earlier this year our university chancellor got his usual fat pay raise.  And then the university announced that it would no longer include retired faculty in its campus-wide bulk software licenses (Microsoft Office, Adobe products, etc.), because this little concrete appreciation for people who had served the institution for 20, 30, 40 years, was just "too expensive."

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Re: Bob and Juris: Be careful out there

Some real-world events changed people's lives in the 1960's and 1970's.  My older brother (born in 1942) earned his BA at UCLA in 1964. Participated in ROTC. After graduation he went to OCS. Served a tour in the Army. Meantime the two younger brothers survived the draft lottery and were able to finish PhD programs in the early 1970's. So my older brother -- just 18 mos. older than I -- had volunteered for service while his two younger brothers remained in grad school on II-S deferments (and got lucky numbers in the draft lottery). My older brother served in the infantry in Vietnam; was promoted to Captain; but was exposed to Agent Orange (AO). After Vietnam, he had a decent career, interrupted by occasional health breakdowns. Eventually that AO exposure in Vietnam caused havoc with his health. He died of cancer in his 50's. My other brother and I were at his bedside in a VA Hospital in the end.

So my younger brother and I (born 1945 and 1944) weren't just on a joy ride, an easy path. We needed to be lucky. Our draft lotery numbers were not called.

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Re: Bob and Juris: Be careful out there


@EtoileDuMatin wrote:

"this little concrete appreciation for people who had served the institution for 20, 30, 40 years, was just "too expensive."


As far as the software is concerned, I stopped using the university supplied software after retirment. I have been using free open source software. You name it, free and open source software is available. Now, Google has lot apps that you may not even need an desktop software. You do not need Adobe. All your browsers can read pdf files. If you want to edit a pdf file, Libreoffice can do it. Libreoffice is my office suite. There are even online tools to convert to different formats. My only paid desktop software is Quicken. I stopped using even my university e-mail id the day I retired although a lot of my friends still use it. Even before retirement, I was using outlook, yahoo, and gmail for my personal e-mails.

So, after my retirment, the president (who used to live in my neighborhood before he became president) extended a free parking for the retired faculty. That did not last long. When the new president came after a few years, he started charging $100/year (slightly more than I was paying before retirment) for a gold tag (full faculty parking). I thought that it was ok. I kept renewing every year until last year but the price kept going up until $250/year last year. I was in Chicago during the renewal time last year so I did not renew it. I managed to use guest parking for a month during the Christmas break. When I was about to get the new gold tag after the Spring term started, the virus hit us. We ended up having our own tread mill and pull up bars, and a few other stuff. I understand that the price of the gold tag has gone up to $275/year. So, if I have saved all these parking fees, I could have enjoyed all these long before for the money I spent on parking in the fitness center. I understand that the new fitness center will charge the retired faculty.

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Re: Bob and Juris: Be careful out there

Bob, I only go on campus to smell the flowers. Like Ferdinand, I don't go into the bull ring to fight. I sit and smell the flowers. There are so many great gardens. After the plague showed up I still go to campus gardens, or walk along the river, when there are breaks or vacations. Occasionally, I have to plug some coins in a parking meter for an hour or so.

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Re: Bob and Juris: Be careful out there

Yes to Ferdinand.  We had a cat like Ferdinand. Followed my wife as she watered her flowers.

Bob

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Re: Bob and Juris: Be careful out there


@ECEPROF wrote:

@EtoileDuMatin wrote:

"this little concrete appreciation for people who had served the institution for 20, 30, 40 years, was just "too expensive."


As far as the software is concerned, I stopped using the university supplied software after retirment. I have been using free open source software. You name it, free and open source software is available. Now, Google has lot apps that you may not even need an desktop software. You do not need Adobe. All your browsers can read pdf files. If you want to edit a pdf file, Libreoffice can do it. Libreoffice is my office suite. There are even online tools to convert to different formats. My only paid desktop software is Quicken. I stopped using even my university e-mail id the day I retired although a lot of my friends still use it. Even before retirement, I was using outlook, yahoo, and gmail for my personal e-mails.

So, after my retirment, the president (who used to live in my neighborhood before he became president) extended a free parking for the retired faculty. That did not last long. When the new president came after a few years, he started charging $100/year (slightly more than I was paying before retirment) for a gold tag (full faculty parking). I thought that it was ok. I kept renewing every year until last year but the price kept going up until $250/year last year. I was in Chicago during the renewal time last year so I did not renew it. I managed to use guest parking for a month during the Christmas break. When I was about to get the new gold tag after the Spring term started, the virus hit us. We ended up having our own tread mill and pull up bars, and a few other stuff. I understand that the price of the gold tag has gone up to $275/year. So, if I have saved all these parking fees, I could have enjoyed all these long before for the money I spent on parking in the fitness center. I understand that the new fitness center will charge the retired faculty.


I believe you are on Medicare.  I kind of remember that it was a Medicare Advantage plan but I am not sure.  Does your university not accept Silver Sneakers?  Mine started accepting it this year and it is free, but the virus hit after I used it for a short time.  Maybe you prefer the university gym, but other fitness centers in your area will be happy to have you for free.

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Re: Bob and Juris: Be careful out there

"I kind of remember that it was a Medicare Advantage plan but I am not sure."

Yes.

"Does your university not accept Silver Sneakers?" No. But, our YMCA accepts and I was using YMCA before U's FIT was available for free. 

"Maybe you prefer the university gym" Yes, it is just a mile away. One of the U's parking lots is just 1000 ft away from home. Besides, there is a coffee room. FIT was providing free coffee also for retired people. So, retired people used to come there, have coffee, and spent time talking about various subjects mainly about health and family - until the free parking was pulled out.

Our son has set up everything in our home. We do not need to go anywhere.

 

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