Federal Employees News Digest

The trip of a lifetime

I’ve been a union member every year since I started working, with one exception, when I was happily lured away to join a dot.com startup newspaper.

It was the trip of a lifetime. I wish you could have the same experience. And that I was still having it too. You really had to be there. It is the stuff of movies.

The signing bonus was eye-popping; three times my then current annual salary. Taxes were terrible. I loved it.

I got a 60 percent raise. And the people and working conditions were great in every way. Except when the dot.com bubble burst, and it all went away. A bunch of people were fired before Christmas.

What a trip. I’ll never forget my trip. And it was the only year I didn’t have to pay union dues.

Fast-forward to today.

Things (from my hair-line to waist line) have changed. And while life is still good, there was a time…

But I digress.

One of the things my second union does every year is send each of its members a letter. The letter contains a form we are supposed to fill out, and return. It is about our level of dues which are based on salary.

The question is the same each year. Did I make more, or less, than $499,999.00 in the last 12 months? It is always the same question and always the same drill for member, and I’m sure others too.

I have to check my payroll statement on line. Then check my taxes for the past year. All this to prove how much, or little, I got paid from all sources.

So far, call me lucky. Lucky because so far---with the exception of that great year in the dot.com world—I have never made more than $499,999.00. Whew!

If I had breached the level and pulled down $500k, or more, my dues would have gone up. Maybe even as high as my net (heck, maybe even gross) pay now.

Hmmmm…..and as I type this maybe it would be a good thing to make more. To cross over into higher dues land. Move into a new tax bracket. See what the folks in Hollywood, Silicon Valley and Wall Street are always complaining about before Congress. Or in the media.

Making pots of money would make it possible for me to trade in my $25 with tip barber for a saloon where men get clipped for $400 or $500, tip not inclusive. Then I could make—and presumably people would listen—statements about the plight of the poor before boarding my private jet and stashing my jewelry and Rolex in the safe in the cabin. That would work.

What makes me a little jealous is that lots of people in my union actually make a lot more than $500k in a year. Some make that in a couple of months. At the rate where they can own villas in Tuscany, farms in France, flats in London and luxury apartments in New York City. When they travel they book a floor, not a room.

But there is a downside which most people probably experience. Some don’t make anything. Or very little. They have to make X amount each year. In some cases movie producers or stars will give them a part or role so they can make enough money to keep their health insurance. And pay the premiums.

As I think of it obviously most people in our group make a lot less than you or I do.

So I am going to do a reality check. Appreciate what I’ve got and good it is. Even if I won’t crack the $499,999.00 barrier this year.

Again!

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Contributors

Edward A. Zurndorfer Certified Financial Planner
Mike Causey Columnist
Tom Fox VP for Leadership and Innovation, Partnership for Public Service
Mathew B. Tully Legal Analyst

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