Random Thoughts

NY Transit Workers' Demands and Pensions of the Powerful

The transit workers' strike crippled New York and we are all thankful that it is over. Governor Pataki, Mayor Bloomberg and sundry echo babbles of reporters and chattering pundits have indulged in harsh criticisms, name calling and howling from rooftops about the illegality of the walkout. The last is true and some criticisms have partial merit, but truth is the first casualty of all wars dies unnoticed like our armed forces in Iraq.

No one mentions or compares the millions of dollars worth of golden parachutes, non-qualified pension plans and other goodies claimed by the powerful. A Disney executive walked off his job of a few months with millions of dollars. A similar package was given to a former AT&T CEO after a little over a year. Gerald Ford, who used his head in the service of the country only to soften its ground on many occasions, has cost the country millions in retirement benefits for two years of personal and national head trauma. 'W' who has been responsible for a loss of trillion dollars (half a trillion in wasted expense for an unnecessary war and half a trillion for higher oil prices due to his war policy), serious injury or death to nearly 50,000 American servicemen and probably over 100,000 Iraqis, will receive millions in retirement for doing nothing useful besides clearing brush from his own property but not his brain.

The munificent pensions of senators and representatives still do not stem the greed and self-abasement for money that they indulge in by jumping out of suitcases, selling carbonated soft drinks or confessing their impotency to tout Viagra like drugs. The recent evidence of Indian MPs and ministers taking bribes for asking questions in parliament and profiting from oil for food program of the scum-bucket Saddam shows that all politicians are the scourge of society.

What is even more irksome is that they use their office to waste even more money by bribing journalists to publish false propaganda or to hold a referendum for reducing the pension benefits of nurses and teachers as the Republican Executives in Washington DC and Sacramento, California did. Republicans and especially the right wing ones, are obsessed with a desire to control the reproductive and sexual inclinations of women and others and completely oblivious of their own moral shortcomings as the Abrahamoff lobbying scandal and the unresolved Delay, Frist, Libby Scooter and other Swords of Damocles hanging to decapitate them, suggest.

We are all painfully cognizant of the foolishly promised burden of future health and pension benefits and realize the need for compromise and adjustments by renegotiation. This does not condone the legal cheating of airline pilots and flight attendants while sparing the executives. Many states including New Jersey, Illinois etc. have unsustainable future commitments, as do cities like Duluth, Minnesota and many corporations that have dumped their unfunded pension benefits on the government's Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation as did the Savings Banks with their obligations on the Federal Treasury, due to the equally insane policies of an Alzheimer ridden Republican President, who planted the seeds of the currently flourishing tree of our national bankruptcy. This is not a blanket indictment of Republicans. The Democrats are just as venal, corrupt and self-serving with the added curse of being more stupid and dishonest. The two play the same role as the BJP and Congress in India respectively.

Rather than casting covetous eyes on the social security and retirement benefits of the common people selectively, let them first reform the pension benefits of the powerful first, by bringing them down to the level that they would like to bring down the benefits of Joe Q. Public. After they have done that then there will be room for rational dialogue and compromise. People are getting tired of being shortchanged and we need to pass a referendum that legislators' and executives compensations can only be increased by referendum and must be reduced each year by the amount of inflation.

This is what caused the ire of Pennsylvania voters against the late at night clandestine unconscionable pay raise by legislators and judges which they were forced to rescind. The American public is tired of playing the role of Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter, while the real seducing fornicators preach holier than thou piety from their fortified pulpits on a high plinth of a gated and guarded enclave. 


More by :  Gaurang Bhatt, MD

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