Value of NARFE Membership

Many times NARFE officers/members are questioned as to “Why should I join NARFE and/or maintain my NARFE membership”.  Some prospective members believe NARFE is a social organization and we know the upcoming Baby Boomers are ‘not’ joiners.  They look at their retirement as an opportunity to get away from; meetings, groups, organizations, etc.  Dr. Paul Carew (NC Fed. IPP) has written an excellent paper on the four generational groups or segments, namely; Silent or Hero Generation, consisting of those born between 1925 and 1945, the Baby Boomers, who were born between 1946 and 1964, Generation X, born between 1965 and 1984 and last, the Millennials, born between 1985 and 2004.  [Note: For additional comments on Dr. Carew’s information, see Bill Austin’s “Vice president’s Views” on page 26 of the August 2007 NARFE magazine]

The reason I mentioned the above is because I believe that we will be faced with a real challenge next year (2009) when a new U.S. President and 111th Congress take office.  We (NARFE) will need to work harder than we ever have in order for us to just “maintain or keep our present benefits”.  Let’s look at some statistical information that the new 111th Congress will be looking at in 2009.  First, our national debt exceeds $9.4 trillion and continues to grow.  The present government debt per U.S household is $531,472.00 and continues to grow.  Major government liabilities/obligations include: Medicare - $30.4 trillion, Social Security - $17.4 trillion, Federal Debt - $5.2 trillion, Federal Pensions - $1.3 trillion, Federal Retirement Health Benefits - $312 billion.  The five areas listed above amount to approximately $54.6 trillion (about 94% of the of the total Government debt/obligation) and they also continue to grow.  Substantial increases in all of the above categories are predicted when the oldest of 79 million Baby Boomers reach 65 in 2011.   

The future 111th Congress will be attempting to adhere to a policy of “Pay As You Go”.  In order to accomplish this objective, they will either have to raise taxes or they will have to reduce expenditures (or a combination of both). Expenditures are projected to exceed the revenues and are predicted to continue to do so until at least 2011.  Both of the aforementioned alternatives will adversely affect NARFE members.  Over the past few years, there have been numerous attempts to; increase our (personal) FEHBP contributions, delay or eliminate COLA’s, implement HSA’s, means test Medicare or other benefits, etc.  All of these attempts (during the past 10+ years) have been defeated or removed from Bill’s and/or legislation due to the efforts of our legislative staff, members and our “friends in Congress”.  A number of “our present friends” in Congress will not be in the 111th Congress (such as Tom Davis).  We need to cultivate new ‘friendships’ in the 111th Congress if we expect to continue stopping adverse legislation.  

The numbers of members we have will directly have an influence on whether we can maintain our present benefits.  Members who are contemplating not renewing their membership should be made aware of the above information and prospective members should also be aware of how important a NARFE membership is.  If we continue to lose members because of retention problems and we can not sign-up new members fast enough to offset our membership losses, then eventually we will become ineffective and we will all see reductions in our annuities or earned benefits.  Membership chairs and officers should make sure that chapter members are aware of the above information and that they share this information with all the chapter members in their newsletters or at their meetings. 

Remember; ……………………. “Together we can make a difference”……………….

Joseph A Beaudoin
Region X RVP, 2007-2008


Tennessee Federation of Chapters