Does anybody think about the common good?

I was poking around on the Internet over the weekend, trying to feel better about my need to stay in (and away from holiday revelers) thanks to the cold to end all colds.
But it’s hard to feel good about much when you’re reading the news these days – and the latest on the auto bailout (or non-bailout) did nothing to improve my mood.
What it did was get me thinking.
The unions have apparently said no, they won’t accept a pay cut for the workers.
If you’re down in the lower echelons of the pay scale (like most of us in Sullivan County), I hear you. When you’re making only enough to pay the bills with no frills, being asked to take a pay cut for the greater good is like being asked if you mind having your face ground further into the muck and grime.
It’s not feasible.
But let’s step back here.
When did everything suddenly become one-size-fits-all? Don’t the facts of an economic downturn throw equality out the window?
More to the point, isn’t there a line that can be drawn – wherein people who have screwed things up royally can kiss their raises good bye, and the people who have simply been working their tails off get something to keep them going?
Cutting salaries for the greater good becomes laughable when those cuts put people out of their homes, put people on the public’s back in the form of unemployment, welfare and other social services.
Here in Sullivan County, we have people looking for parity in a job that already pays more than double the average income of a county resident – and in a county job. But parity walked out of the room years ago, as the taxes in Sullivan County climbed so high that a born-and-raised resident making $30,000 can’t afford to buy a house because of the taxes.
It walked out of the room when people started expecting things not because they could afford them, but because it’s the American way – we should all be equal, and all should have it all.
Where do you find that in the Constitution? Where does it say, the rich should get richer, and the poor should get a piece of it?
On both ends of the spectrum, there is a lack of responsibility.
There are people asking for a $10 million bonus (even if you do turn around and say you really don’t plan on asking for it, Mr. Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain) despite a year that saw their company spiral downward so fast that people literally couldn’t hold on.
On the other side? People moaning that the piece of paper they signed two years ago – without consulting a lawyer or reading the fine print – is being held against them. Now they’re actually being asked to pay up.
And stuck in the middle? The average Joe is losing his Christmas bonus – which is actually going to worsen the economy by lessening all that bonus-generated holiday spending (remember National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation? The bonus means a lot to the little people folks).
He paid his bills. He worked.
He didn’t ask for his bonus, nor did he ask to lose it. He didn’t ask for a raise, nor did he ask to lose it.
But he’s giving up a lot for the greater good. He’s making things work, because it’s what he’s always done.
He is the greater good.

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  1. I am so with you on this one. What are they thinking – it’s ok for the little people to get a pay cut, but not them. I don’t think anyone should have been bailed out. There are always other businesses out there that will rise to the top.

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