Opinion » Maxed Out

Maxed out

Choices in hard times

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Second, there's no way in hell the muni is going to seriously contemplate anything on the spending side of the equation until after the Olympics. To hear Billy tell it, there's no way anything's getting attention except the Olympics. If that comes as a surprise, you should consult your family physician and check to make sure your brain hasn't run out your ears.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, there's a deep pool of frustration in the community at what people see as a new, elevated class: municipal workers. This will come as a shock to the municipal workers themselves, who see themselves more as the trodden upon rather than the trodders.

The anger and outrage goes something like this. My business is taking a kicking in this global recession. My job - choose one - hangs by a thread; vanished like a fart in the breeze. Why the hell shouldn't you feel the pain too?

Now, I've got to level with you, oh my brothers and sisters toiling away for the Man, you were not done any favours by the defence thrown up on your behalf. If anything, it outraged the villagers more. If you see any glowing fires outside your door, I wouldn't jump to the conclusion it's an Ullr celebration.

The defence? "We have a contract with our staff and we can't break it."

Last Thursday, that sounded feeble and specious. This week, after the management of AIG, the company that pretty much lit the fuse on the global economic crisis, used that same we-have-a contract excuse to pay bonuses totaling $165 million to employees whose performance(sic) sunk the boat in the first place - after sucking the federal teat to the tune of $170 billion - it sounds a little too, how shall I say this, Nuremburg.

"Ve haf a contract." "Ve vere only following orders." You decide.

Nobody buys the contract excuse. We've all seen too many contracts disappear in hard financial times. A contract? Tell it to auto workers. Tell it to airline employees. Tell it to pensioners. Tell it to businesspeople who've watched firm orders disappear. Tell it to twinkies. Tell it to anyone who can't offload lower revenues to taxpayers.