Tuesday, May 30, 2006

5.30.06, [Rant] Squeal Like a Pig!

[p.s. I did finish a more meditative piece on the weight of the human soul, and other characteristics of it--mildly entertaining--but it must wait]

I am fucking pissed off. I'm still working through this in another document and then I'll post, but I just wanted to give a heads up that it's on its way. Goddam financial ghouls in our world.

Franky Scale: 7, the FS is for physical feeling, so 7, and the IV chemo happens later today, in about two hours and that kind of gives me the illusion, or reality, of having most of a good day before the toxins are poured in through the port-o-cath. (Every time I see that word I think of an Irish bar. Maybe today I'll sit back in the bed or blue chemo chair and say "Nurse, I'd like your sampler of benzodiazepines and a double shot of Jameson 12-year. Just stick it right into my port-o-cath, thanks so much. And keep 'em coming.")

okay, hold on.... (going to write it all down...)

So I know at least one film-studies professor who reads this--or at least I think he reads it now and then--and I would expect him to know the allusion of today's title; even if you're not a film or cinema person, a lot of you should still get this (Think backwoods, think poet James Dickey's novel turned film...). So you'll guess from the start how happy I am about how today has gone. I've been on the phone all morning with various individuals trying to square away certain financial matters, and I have been jerked off the whole goddam morning. It's a good thing I do have a benzodiazepine or two around in order to take edge of this.

Another small comfort is that the newly discovered (well, last year, 6 months ago?) Coltrane CD One Down, On Up was just delivered to my door and I have that playing, cold comfort it feels, though, against the totalitarian / authoritarian (I think it's both the more I consider it) capitalist bullshit we live with. You can't even die without the bastards screwing you. Isn't there a legal-esque phrase? --Non carperendum illegitimus!. Something like that, my Latin's rusty but goddam right, I say.

It begins with Chase, a credit card account that very fortunately now has a zero balance--though it took me just about, what, 15 years to get it there--and new charges that are marring my "Zero." Some bullshit promotion that I took for one month then called to discontinue--my stupidity I suppose and I should have known they would keep charging me; however, what surprised me was that Chase refused to do anything about the charges, even when I tell them I didn't ask for it, it's not my service, they're charging me against my will, and pathetically so on. All I can do is call this third party (who, btw, works under Chase!) But, that's small potatoes compared to my employer.

All academics who read this post nota bene: especially those of you who work at a certain large research university in the greater Seattle area should be interested in this. I call one of my 403b accounts / companies ("403b" is the nonprofit equivalent of "401k" for people who work in the private sector), it's retirement, "I'm gonna die" I tell them, and "I'd like to check on how I can withdraw my money and possibly avoid penalties. My situation, you know, is kind of special," I say. I expect to hear, "Well, I'm sorry you're gonna die but you still gotta pay the penalties"--kind of inhumane but look at the System. (And go watch the 1975 film Rollerball, seriously.) Yeah, my dialog is stupid and awkward but have you ever done this before? I don't know what to say. So Sam from Fidelity is nice enough but he informs me "Your employer has set it up so that you cannot withdraw a penny unless you x-fer it when you switch employers or you retire." So we go through this Abbot and Costello routine where I keep explaining, "No, no, no. You see it's a hardship thing, terminal illness, blah blah blah." You know, who's on first? but with money rules. In short, "nada, nada, nada, not a damn thing," if I can quote Q-Tip.

Later. Speaking with a "Specialist" at X University where I am "employed," they fucking confirm this! Your retirement money, "your" money all of my friends out there, you can have it only (1) at retirement, (2) at quitting, sort of, (3) at your fucking death--not right before, but they'll release it in their kindness once/when/after you die. This is a tremendous help to me, with no dependents--Gee thanks, folks. You know what else, my colleagues? You cannot ever stop your contributions once you enroll--should you decide there are more pressing issues in your life, you find yourself cash poor for a few months, you truly do experience hardship and need to stop putting aside 7.5 percent (or whatever your rate is), well, I believe the official university line is: "Squeal like a pig!" Apparently there is no "hardship" at University of X. It makes me feel rather warm and fuzzy inside--I've got a job where there is no hardship, had I known I would have enjoyed it so much more blissfully till now. Ahh.

Let's continue. Not only does this mean that I've been wrong and naive when I've bragged about my retirement plan "It's great, they match 100% of my contribution up to 7.5 percent of salary, AND it's immediately vested, it's mine!" Slight correction, so I've learned, which is that not only is the "immediate vestment" a complete crock of shit--i.e. a prevarication, a flat out lie--but even the money you yourself, I myself, invest does not belong to you for 30 years or whatever until you retire. Sure it's a "retirement" plan, but they take the money and you have ZERO access, not even *with* penalties; their matching contributions *and* your own share. AND YOU CAN'T WITHDRAW from contributing. It's a total racket. This racket defines non-liquidity. In my very pissed off opinion it also defines unfair, unreasonable, authoritarian, and just goddam hurtful. I do not need to be catered to in this Life Situation, but yeah, I could be thrown a bone on this one. I could spit I'm so incensed.

I am also not a financial genius and would love to learn that I've missed something crucial here, that there is a way around it, that there is in fact a humanizing solution to this. Granted there are one or two options related to viaticals and life insurance but I've asked and asked and talked to the people "who know." I feel like I should go read Kafka again for some insight, but I just reread all of Kafka a few weeks ago. No use. OK. I don't know if I feel any better after my little rant but it is what it is, or as they say after most tragic situations on The Sopranos: "What 're you gonna do?"


lefty said...

jonsie, wtf??

i find that absolutely incredibly impossible. you mean that of all of the employees (thousands, right?) and numerous people on numerous boards that make all kinds of decisions for us (you) and themselves that not one of them is or was concerned about that aspect of your 403b when they set it up? i find that so hard to believe!! was that fine print so small that they couldn't even read it with their little "down on the nose" reading glasses on a chain?

there HAS to be a loophole. it might be called the "robin hood clause".

and how could someone on the other end of any of your phone calls hear your story and not be absolutely empathetic and offer to look into it or take it to the top or offer some sort of appeal proccess or ANYTHING. there isn't anything that set in stone (except for fucking dying!)that there isn't some way around it, even if it is off the record and they call you from their home phone and fill you in (so the man can't record the call).

well, expect a fed ex in a couple of days on that note. i was sending you a present from my mom (it's cheesy as all hell but it will fit nicely in your new thoughtful cheesy cancer gifts) no offence to lefty's mom.
you know you are cheesy ;)

wow, i'm steamed over that. how can your money not be accessible unless you die and that be okay by all of the employees on campus? time for another sit in spottie? what about the professors of finance and business? i wonder what they did? you should call a few of them and ask them. they might know something since it is in their own interest too.

bummer jonsie.
i looooooove you! look for that package,

Slarry said...

"What you gonna do?" Mr. Jones-- to quote some other
"mobsters," we are going to "take it to the matresses."
Fight, rage, win and fight some more.
What a pile of shit.
I am sorry about this. Geeez. We will stick it to the man. : ) This is unfair, unjust, wrong and sickening-- but not impossible to fix.
You have laws that protect you. We will talk later, soon.
Let me know when you are up for it.
Thinking of you while I'm attempting to control my temper. Dr. Malfie read it and has something to say.

Mr. Jones said...

Larry: What happened? The spelling of M-E-L-F-I-E / Melfi is simple, what happened to it? It went from being spelled right to getting weirder and weirder, "malfie" this time? Granted I started out saying, incorrectly, "M-a-lfi" with a bad "a" but what's happening? The world is going to hell in a handbasket! -Mr. J.

spacely said...

Hi Spot Tricia Just a little hello to say I'm Back!!! We didn't win anything in vegas... I had 3 quarters and kerry put them in for you ... and he got 8 quarters... THEN he put them all back into the dumb slut machine!!! I hope I can make you laugh for atleast 2 minutes because you sound kind of bummed :)(: that's the big hairy butt smile with tattoos. We kind of had fun in vegas. We saw The show Mama Mia and butt cheeks.. Circus circus and butt cheeks.. Star Trek the experience and butt cheeks.. Cirque du soliel and can you believe it BUTT CHEEKS!! You would think we liked everyones butt we saw so many!!!! luv u

spacely said...

P.S. Hi to mr. deeker i really liked your guest blog and I hate to say it but scott will tell you this is normal for me...and I love him!!!

tossing salads said...

sorry i didnt comment yesterday. but as all have said very pissed at all of this retirement thingy. i dont find it incredible but do. very sad state of affairs.

have been trying to get the matt graduated. his birthday (18th woohoo) was yesterday and his present was being diagnoised with mono. how fun for him??? today he graduates. very weird. no kids in school for the first time in 25 years. how weird is that??? he leaves for newport beach on friday for his senior trip. im sure hell miss most of it cuz of sleeping all the time. but at least he can say he went.

happier note, he got a pell grant yesterday. so hes covered for school in the fall. to say that hes excited is an understatement.

how was the blue room yesterday??? hope your feeling as good as you can.

caths and drips, sue

Slarry said...

Mr. Jones: I think after reading your blog about your 403b, that it upset me so much that I developed sympathetic "chemo brain" and forgot how to spell. : )
MELFIE-- I won't forget again.
Congrats to Matt.
Can't wait to see you Mr. Jones.
Big fat love. You have three very odd (but loving )
We adore you.
love, Sheri

Mr. Jones said...

Slarry--I even was hasty yesterday, adding another letter! an extra "E". The real winner is just Melfi. One "e" and one "i" no pyrotechnics. We can't all have "chemo brain" it just can't work that way. Love. Mr. J.

Quid Pro Quo said...

Don't shoot the messenger... The feds are pretty uptight (among other things) about money, especially if it's tax deferred money. My 2 cents is take the penalty, withdraw the money, defer the tax if you can and lease the Benz. If you can't defer, the total penalty for early withdrawal is about 30-40% right? Oh well... Or see about taking a "loan" with a promise to repay... - you should be able to "borrow" 50% of the vested account balance (at least in 401K you can) or option #3 withdraw 50% with penalty and get a "loan for the other 50%...


about the Benz - long term lease with 0 down - ought to get you lower monthly payments (higher IRR)

Anyhoo, I want a ride when you get one.


lefty said...

okay mr. jones...

let me just see if i'm clear on this after my diatribe yesterday and now having just read quid pro quo. are any of the oprions from quid pro quo available? if so, that's standard fare for 401ks and 403bs (403 b.s.!). and everything i wrote is null and void and i'm not so perplexed.

i just want to make sure i'm clear before i start to ask around about this "hypothetical" situation i was wondering about.

there is still a bone (hee hee) coming your way though along with lefty's mom's (kathy) cheesy present.

loving you dearly and queerly,

Anonymous said...

Dear Quid Pro Quo,

You've apparently misunderstood my post entirely, and, btw, no messengers were shot, & the conversation was polite. There are no potential penalties, no fed rules, no loans at issue here--that is precisely what I'm so upset about. They (said University) have "my money" locked up and they will not allow *any* type of withdrawal, even w/ penatlies, even with taxes taken out, even on loan, etc. So I have zero access to the money under *any* cercumstances--including medical or, let' say for the hell of it, terminal illness--until retirement. That is precisely what I'm crying is so unjust here. In their game, where they have made the rules, there is no "quid" for my "quo." That's their official rule/ policy/ position presently. -Mr. J.

Quid Pro Quo said...

Hey - is there a tax advisor out there? 403b is quite **yikes** and much more treacherous than the standard milk and cookies 401K. Would there be any consequences for taking the loan out for a down payment and not actually buying a house? There's got to be amongst you a friend with a mortage/escrow company that will accept the deposit and redistribute, saying the sale failed... This is the only loophole I can see Mr. J. Out and out fraud... but who's into following the GD rules anyway? I'm certain that amongst you is at least one tax attorney... Weigh in please.

Mr. Jones said...

Quid Pro Quo, et al.

I meant to say thanks before for weighing in, and thanks to all for the great collective resource you are, but in my still mind-buggered state about the retirement funds I forgot. I'd also love a weigh in from anyone with ideas on this. And I don't mind rule bending in the least. -Mr. J.