2011-02-04 / Columnists

The Progressive

Just Saying
By John Paul Culotta

It always surprises me that most Americans are intrigued by lottery winners, reality shows on the boob tube, talent show winners and losers, and the need for toys and other material goods for deprived children during the winter holiday season.

These phenomena are the result of a gigantic divide in the economic status of people in American society. Most of us who have lived long enough understand that talent is not always rewarded and that inequality is a serious problem. All of us desire a rewarding occupation, dignity and a decent place to live. For too many of us employment opportunities that allow a dignified and rewarding lifestyle are rare and becoming rarer. University education does allow for a greater degree of opportunity and yet, unfortunately, for many young people this avenue of opportunity is denied because of their economic status and/or poor preparation for success in academic endeavor because of their racial, ethnic, social or economic background.

For many of us another avenue of opportunity was civil service. Today, there is a systematic assault on this avenue of opportunity. So called reform of civil service will destroy seniority as the guide used for employment retention. Assaults on public employees unions will destroy the economic status of Americans who dedicate their work life as teachers, firefighters, police officers, emergency responders, and in work that guarantees a safer and healthier population. Already many of these men and women are paid less than their counterparts in private industry, many are envious of their benefits as a result of their employment. All Americans should have their opportunity for decent wages, healthcare and a decent pension. Taking away civil service benefit packages will only exacerbate the deepening imbalance in our nation.

The civil service defined contribution pensions, which many say are bankrupting cities and states all over this nation, are deferred income promised in other bad economic climates in our past, to civil service workers.

The pension problem is a result of political chicanery and the present financial crisis. Our economy needs men and women to have decent pensions in order for these pensioners to stimulate the economy by purchasing goods and services and not rely on the public to supply their material needs. Attacking civil service pensions is insanity.

Attacking corruption, financial manipulation, economic inequity, and the media frenzy of highlighting a homeless man who is now famous because of his vocal talent and not on homelessness in America would get our priorities in order. At Christmas we often donate toys and other material needs and desires for the dispossessed and for the rest of the year do not reflect, advocate, and/or agitate for a social, economic and political system that ensures rewarding employment, healthcare, dignity and decent housing for Americans.

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