When Lee Enterprises bought the Post-Dispatch, it lured many older employees into retiring early with the promise of free health care for life. Now the corporation is dumping those retirees off their health care. It could afford to honor its contract, but the execs have decided they’re … not in the mood.

Fred Jackson, who has cancer, is about to be bankrupt because of their heartlessness and greed.

As Jackson points out, there are no federal laws sanctioning corporations for breaking this kind of contract, as there are for refusing to pay pensions. There should be, because Jackson, even with the help of the Newspaper Guild, which is suing Lee, cannot protect himself against the company for flouting its contracts. He and the other retirees need a government that can predict and protect people against these bunco games.

As it is, Jackson finds himself in a Catch-22 that even the new health care law would not have prevented had it been fully in effect. Am I correct in that assumption? And if I am, could legislation prevent corporations from indulging in this bait and switch? Or are ordinary people, no matter what laws are passed, at the mercy of businesses with in-house legal staff that can fend them off for years or decades?

Opinions, anyone?