Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Pataki the Piano Player



The 2 January 2006 New York Post has an article "Gov Fury at 'Train Robbery'" by Carl Campanile, Stefan C. Friedman & Dan Mangan. Seems that the MTA made a secret side deal with the TWU, agreeing to reimburse the transit workers for their pensions from MTA funds even if the New York State Legislature fails to pass legislation providing for the same. This would, from the transit workers' perspective, more than compensate for the 6 days' pay that the Taylor Law requires be docked for illegally striking. This is NOT part of the new and (as of this writing) yet to be ratified labor contract, but a secret sweetheart deal!

Pataki's public statement "I never had any briefing or knowledge that there was a side agreement, and I have to say it's extremely upsetting to me. I made it plain from the beginning: You don't reward illegal strikes. You don't benefit as a result of illegal acts. And I am extremely unhappy that this side deal apparently exists."

Most of us have to make some sort of contribution to our own pensions. And, as the American life expectancy increases, we will surely need to work longer in order to keep our pension funds solvent. Retirement at age 55 and living to age 95? This means that the erstwhile employee is being supported by the system longer than he or she has supported it. Multiply this by all the employees out there and it just cannot work! The system has to crash eventually, unless something is done! Now the MTA work is certainly not without its dangers, but it just doesn't have the risks that are inherent in jobs such as, say, career military. And, speaking of career military, how many MTA workers would actually be brought up on charges and face imprisonment for refusing an assignment on the other side of the city, let alone the other side of the world?

[And, as an aside, what does it say about our society if we all are looking forward to retirement? Why can't we have jobs that we enjoy? Rare is the person who wants to keep working at their job until the very end (though some notables, including John Philip Sousa, did keep doing what they loved until they keeled over doing it).]

But I digress. Pataki now claims that he knew nothing about the secret side agreement! Well, yes, it is theoretically possible for the guy who, having played piano on the ground floor of a bordello for 6 months, to honestly claim that he didn't know what was happening upstairs after the vice squad raid. Theoretical, but in real life, how many bordello piano players are really that clueless as to the business transacted on the upper floors? During my high school days, when I had the job after school at the local drug store, I actually made deliveries to a bordello, and even though I never went beyond the threshold of the front door, I knew what was going on upstairs! Okay, I'm superintelligent, so don't use me as the norm, but the junior high kids who lived on the street, no intellectual heavyweights, also knew what business the madame was in. Pataki has made some very abysmally stupid mistakes, but now he wants me to believe that he was really, really clueless to this secret deal made by his own boys!

Okay, let us say that you have a job, and you make a secret sweetheart deal with a customer to give away millions of dollars in company funds to which you have absolutely no authority to spend. How much longer would you expect to be employed? Or, from the boss's perspective, let us say that your employee agreed to a thing of such magnitude with a customer, without getting you in on the loop. Would you be inclined to accelerate the employee's promotion, or would you be inclined to accelerate the employee's butt out the door? If, indeed, Pataki's boys on the MTA Board made a sweetheart deal of which Pataki was totally clueless, then MTA Chair Peter Kalikow's toochas should be hitting the pavement in front of 347 Madison Avenue very soon!

But I'm not putting any chips down on the wheel for that one. In my 18 December 2005 posting I questioned whether Pataki or Bloomberg had the wherewithal to enforce the Taylor Law's prescribed consequences for those individuals and unions that go on illegal strikes. And in my 21 December 2005 posting I said, "[a]s long as TWU Local 100 President Roger Toussaint is the only player in the game who engages in sound and intelligent leadership practices, you can expect the strike to continue until Pataki and Bloomberg give away the entire store!" As of now, those statements still stand!

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