2011-03-04 / Columnists

The Progressive

By John Paul Culotta

It is ironic that Wall Street has improved and corporate coffers are bulging while persistent misery endures across these United States. For the past few decades jobless recoveries have been the norm after recession. Our economic policy has been redirected from the uplifting of all the members of society towards a policy that rewards greed and selfish motives.

The so-called invisible hand of the free market system has become an iron fist of repression of legitimate aspirations of the poor and middle class.

Our Congress has investigated the causes of the present depression and yet the report has not become part of the political discourse of the nation. This is unfortunate.

During the last Depression there was a popular radio show featuring a Roman Catholic priest that blamed an international Jewish conspiracy for the misery that existed.

Many believed his radio sermons. Communists wanted to destroy the entire capitalist system.

Racists blamed Jews, Roman Catholics, and African Americans for the economic debacle.

At the same time, Ferdinand Pecora led an investigation that led to regulations and legislation that reformed the financial institutions of that period.

We have saved our present financial institutions and automobile companies with government largesse; we have not addressed the underlying causes. The present day villains are not the bankers, the hedge fund managers or corrupt corporate leaders and politicians, according to the talk of the common man.

We have directed our anger to the civil servant, the teacher and the undocumented worker.

Much media attention has been focused on state and city pensions, especially those that have been increased by overtime.

Our mayor also wishes to take benefits away from present pensioners! He did not advocate that bonuses paid to corporate leaders whose institutions received taxpayer bailouts return some of their income. In fact, our leaders refuse to increase taxes on some of the wealthiest people on the planet!

Those who had their pension income increased because of overtime worked was the result of political mismanagement – not fraud or greed by the civil service employee.

Most government work needs manpower and cannot be easily done by technologic improvement.

When the economy was booming, few were willing to enter civil service because of the poor wage structure, considering the qualifications demanded.

Many politicians refused to hire more employees because it would be cheaper to have the civil servants employed work overtime than to hire new employees who would incur additional medical benefits coverage. They also needed employees with experience and training in the tasks needed immediately.

Civil service managers needed people to work overtime in order for the stated mission of their agencies to be accomplished.

In order to attract people willing to remain at work after their required hours, the carrot of increased pension benefits was used as bait.

These so-called pension enhancers were also part of the social and legal contract that both parties agreed to for legitimate reasons.

To make civil servants pay for political mistakes of the past is an invitation to the law of the jungle!

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