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we think that the Government should be liberal enough to divide with us anyway, and superannuate the employees who have performed their duties. We are not asking for pensions for men who are in position to perform their daily duties like we are. Of course, I am not one of the young men any more, but I am not one of the old men; but, nevertheless, men of our profession do not last as long as they do in the other departments, because of the tax upon them and a constant grind and the accurate work that we have to contend with. It soon tells on us, and of course our work is entirely different from other departments, because we have got to show a considerable production in order to make any showing at all, and it takes a young and vigorous man to-day to keep the pace.
I would like to say also that it has been quoted here that the various corporations are retiring their employees, such as the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Bell Telephone Co., the General Electric Co., the United States Steel Corporation, and other various roads and large corporations of the country. In my opinion, I think that a man or a woman-I will not exclude the women, because I think they are just as deserving as the men-I think that anyone that serves the Government 30 years of faithful service should certainly be given a privilege after they are physically disabled to retire. I certainly think that it should be taken into consideration seriously, because we have a number of men with us who have served 30 and 35 years, and they are comparatively young men, yet they started at very early ages-anywhere from 15 to 18 years of age--and, of course, when they have served 30 and 35 year's they are comparatively old men in a sense. There is no comparison between them and a clerk in the War Department, or in any one of the Government departments. As I say, there is a great deal more expected and required of them, and our duties are different entirely; so it makes quite a difference, especially from our manufacturing end, to what it does in the judicial or executive departments.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will be glad to hear Mr. Tighe, who desires to submit some remarks upon the subject under discussion.
STATEMENT OF JOSEPH M. TIGHE, DELEGATE OF NEW ORLEANS BRANCH AND COMMITTEEMAN OF UNITED STATES CIVIL-SERV. ICE RETIREMENT ASSOCIATION.
Mr. Tigre. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, the preceding four days of hearings having dwelt upon the expediency and necessity of some retirement system and the features of the several methods, I will only make a short statement, dealing chiefly with the failure of enactment of a retirement law heretofore.
During the last 40 years about 90 retirement bills have been introduced in Congress, à campaign of education of 40 years without results.
Especially during recent years the failure of enactment of a retirement law has been attributed to inability to agree upon its terms. At the annual convention of the straight-pension advocates on or about March 5, 1915, Congressman Goulden, introduced as the father of straight-pension retirement, stated that a retirement law could have
heen enacted about eight years previously, when, in committee, Chairman Gillett stated a contributory pension law could then be passed, but that he (Mr. Goulden) insisted upon a straight-pension plan, but had since feared he had erred in such refusal, as he beheld the steady stream of aged Government employees being sent from their life-long occupations to die in the poorhouse. Congressman Goulden concluded with the advice to the convention that if they could not get their favorite law they should take the next best thing.
During the last several years we have been denied a retirement law on the statement that we were divided on what we wantedinto different associations, each insisting upon its favorite method.
Our country is the only modern civilized country without a social insurance system; and, together with Turkey and Haiti, is the only country without a civil retirement system. None of those systems could have been established had they been predicated upon all the employees or all the citizens agreeing upon the terms of the respective laws.
I happen to have had an intimate and satisfactory experience with the contributory retirement system of Senator Mekellar's home city, whereby my mother was the first teacher to retire under the Memphis city schools retirement system, 9 years ago, after 40 years of teaching. Her aged comrades, in a similar state of collapse, regarded her retiring as a risky experiment at first, but later did likewise. While the system has since been altered from voluntary to compulsory membership, I understand its financial strength has continued to grow during its nine years of existence.
The preceding portion of this hearing has shown that the eifect of the straight pension plan is to leave the widow and children the worse for it, as the employee, having worked for less salary during his life's work than he would have without the pension in view, he bas more likely been unable to accumulate the nest egg or other investment the extremely frugal may have accumulated; and the pension dying with the employee, both before and after retiring, the widow and children are left destitute.
The president of the straight pension advocates, at the hearing May 23, 1916, stated that a hundred thousand resignations of United States Government employees had occurred since 1908. Those men should not lose the withheld portion of their pay, termed deferred pay, as such flocking out of the service can not be the fault of the employees. Whereas by the contributory method, having the features of the savings bank account, the employee possesses some capital on which to recommence life's occupation or to leave as a little estate to his dependents.
The Studensky manual, previously submitted, after making a much more detailed comparison than the foregoing, concludes with recommending a combination of the straight and contributory methods as a generally satisfactory compromise and promotive of best results. This seems to be the unanimous opinion at this series of hearings, as well as to accept any system your committee will decide upon, and this I heartily indorse.
A glorious credit to the contributory method is the Washington Soldiers' Home. It was launched about 1857 on an unclaimed bit of Mexican War soldiers' prize money and an $18,000 unused remnant
of a relief fund; later it received courts-martial fines and a 25 cents per month assessment on the soldiers' pay; about 16 years ago said assessment was reduced to 124 cents, and altogether discontinued in 1908. And the money thus accumulated established the 5004 acres of the most beautiful ground about Washington, and the many buildings costing as high as a million dollars each, while the income on the unspent portion (several million dollars) maintains the home in perpetuity.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Alcorn desires to make a few remarks now. You may proceed, Mr. Alcorn.
STATEMENT OF R. H. ALCORN.
Mr. ALCORN. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, there has been much said here on this subject; in fact, all the departments of the Government have been heard from, so in closing let me suggest, aside from the Pension Office handling the proposition, the creation of a board or commission for the administrating of any retirement plan that is a nonpartisan board, consisting of not more than five members or less than three, appointed, say, for two, three, or four years, the chairman being a four-year member. I believe one or two of the board should be representatives of the employees; that is, appointed from the service. Of course, this can all be adjusted when Congress is fully determined to settle this matter.
While we had hoped that there might be some action taken at this session, it seems now that the best we can hope for is some action in the next session, beginning in December.
Believing you, Mr. Chairman, with your committee, will do all you can to get this much-needed law enacted in behalf of the civilservice employees, I want to thank you and the members of your committee for granting this hearing.
The CHAIRMAN. This concludes the hearing upon the subject under discussion, so the committee will sta d adjourned.
(Thereupon, at 12 o'clock m., the committee adjourned, subject to the call of the chairman.)