August 11, 2008

A Question of Possibility

Justin Katz

Reading some of the comments to my post on the Lincoln teacher union contract agreement, it strikes me that many of my anti-union compatriots give due appreciation to the reality of change.

The bottom line, as far as I can see, is that the union acknowledged the reality of limited funds and, rather than tumble into the public-relations nightmare that has attached itself to, for example, the Tiverton NEA gang, chose to shuffle the dollars around pretty much within its existing slice of the pie. That's a step in the right direction.

Sure, the members probably wanted to put as much money as possible into "raises" (in reality, step adjustments) so that those percentages would continue to grow into the future. No doubt, they likely hope to undo or shift some of the "concessions" when the economic environment improves. But continuing to ratchet up the squeeze is the duty of private citizens.

Don't insist on all or nothing, because even well-meaning beneficiaries of a corrupted system will burrow back into the comfort of unjust manipulation if their little steps forward yield nothing but heightened rebuke. The goal must be to translate our gains, as limited as they may at first be, into the language of systematic reform that remains even when dollars aren't so scarce (which is a distinct possibility sometime before mid-century).

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Unfortunately, some of the dollars shuffled completely out of the budget when they traded family sick days (used yearly) for regular sick days (accrued and the costs passed on to future budgets). That part of the deal was easy to package for public consumption. Not telling the whole story on salary increases was too. The systemic reform needed is to treat public sector employees like private sector employees - no better, no worse. I hope this is the camel's nose. But, can we afford to make slow incremental shifts? Will we have the political will to continue that shift in flush years?

Posted by: William Felkner at August 11, 2008 9:51 PM

I think you are right on, Justin. While there's plenty of room for disagreement, I think we must acknowledge those steps in the right direction.

Unfortunately the hostile comments on the previous post sound more like those from the other blog. I hope this isn't becoming the norm as I have always appreciated the reasonable debate here.

Posted by: mikeinRI at August 11, 2008 11:10 PM

Putting aside that we have not seen the details the Contract, the key is that, as Justin noted, the Union (and the School Committee) acknowledged the reality of limited funds (i.e. Taxpayers do NOT have unlimited resources).

Now, some hand-wringers might argue that what Lincoln does has nothing to do with what other cities and towns do (and for that matter, Tiverton's teacher Union has nothing to do with Lincoln's).

But I agree that all the Unions are interrelated and that lessons can be learned by observing the actions of one particular Union.

So with that in mind, I wonder if the Providence Fire Department Union is paying attention to this, particularly Justin's observation that "the union acknowledged the reality of limited funds".

Indeed, I wonder if PFD Union Pwesident, Lazy-Ass Pauly "No Show" Doughty, who squandered LIMITED Taxpayer resources by not showing up for 3+ years to the job he was well paid to do AND who believes his Union should be paid based on what "other big North Eastern Cities" get paid as opposed to being based on the LIMITED resources of Providence's Taxpayers, is paying attention and learning something here?

Posted by: George Elbow at August 12, 2008 7:06 AM

George Elbow, I am sure you have heard of "BDM" Bush derangement syndrome, which afflicts many liberals. It seems to me that you have contracted "DDM" Doughty derangement syndrome. I don't know your history with the man, and I'm not saying you're criticism is wrong. Some progressive people are championing Russia's actions in Georgia because they hate Bush so much, if you can believe it. Try to post for awhile without mentioning you know who, it'll probably do you some good to get him off your mind.

Posted by: observer at August 12, 2008 8:55 AM


Thanks for the concern.

I never met the man.

My only history with Lazy-Ass Pauly "No Show" Doughty is that, like you and everyone else in the State, I pay taxes to support some Union hack to sit home on his lazy keaster so that he can dream up more ways to redistribute more of my hard earned cash into his (and his supportive Union members) pockets.

Get him off my mind? Hell, we should errect a god-damn statute of the leech as a constant reminder of the screwing we are getting from these Union hacks while we are busy at work and not paying attention.

You know how we like to say "Never Forget" with respect to the fallen victims of 9/11, same goes here.

Any ways, thanks again for the concern. But I suggest you concern yourself more with the ramming you are getting from the likes of Lazy-Ass Pauly "No Show" Doughty, who for 3+ years failed to show up to the job that the Taxpayers paid him to do.

Posted by: George Elbow at August 12, 2008 9:00 PM

"Lazy-Ass Pauly "No Show" Doughty, who for 3+ years failed to show up to the job that the Taxpayers paid him to do" --maybe this guy Doughty could become the poster child for RI government?

We could put him on milk cartons and have concerned taxpayers call-in if they see him. How do you like that idea?

Posted by: Citizen Critic at August 13, 2008 12:59 PM

>>>We could put him on milk cartons and have concerned taxpayers call-in if they see him.

Right under the heading:

"Milking the Taxpayers"

Posted by: Tom W at August 13, 2008 1:33 PM

How about a Mel Brooks inspired statue of a smiling Lazy-Ass Pauly "No Show" humping a Taxpayer with the caption: "It's Good to be a Union Leech".

Or perhaps a stutue with him sitting in the lap of a Taxpayer, sucking the Taxpayer's Tit with Tom W's Caption: "Milking the Taxpayer"

Posted by: George Elbow at August 13, 2008 11:33 PM
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