Wednesday, December 11, 2013



Many of you have seen a variation of this picture/cartoon which pokes fun at how a municipal  works crew appears to the passing taxpayers. One man working while 10 watch.
If you think it's exaggerated, take a longer look at work on our streets.
The picture is also ridiculing the tendency of all work to be bureaucratized into too many silly compartments with lofty titles, especially in government. The work of management consultants and those useless HR departments staffed by those who can't do real work.
The private sector is guilty too, but at least there the victims are those who pay too much for the product or the service. not the taxpayer, so the flabby corporations filled with lazy titles and lazier workers runs the risk of going broke.
I suggest to you that what this picture illustrates is disappearing from private companies because of tougher competition and will be assaulted everywhere soon by all the young men and women with good education and no real jobs who figure that if they have to endure a life not as prosperous as their parents, they'll be damned if municipal, provincial and federal workers continue their fatcat existence without angry condemnation and revenge at the polls.
Newspapers daily report on the obscene compensation for CEOs, but at least we don't have to use their companies or buy their stocks if we are offended.
Unfortunately, it is the exceptional week that doesn't have some similar scandal about stumblebum managers inflicting on us an enormous waste of taxes. Look at the latest concerning the provincial utility monstrosity called Ontario Power Generation. What do we do now? Pay the higher electricity bills and grimace and bear it?
It is astounding that the awful Liberal government still exists at Queen's Park, considering how inept it has been in spending any sum greater than one buck and in supervising outfits like the OPG.
And the Tory government in Ottawa seems to have forgotten it is a conservative government because it  has been too liberal in spending. Clinging to power is more important than being good stewards of our taxes.
Ontario residents have been upset for years about high power bills, especially those charges for servicing debt caused by past stupidities. The OPG  has been found guilty by the provincial auditor-general of driving up the prices of electricity through, and I quote the National Post lead para, "rampant nepotism, high labour costs and one of the province's most generous public-sector pension plans."
That the respected provincial watchdog would come to that conclusion is no surprise. In fact, I would be amazed if she didn't. But what really shocks, and after five decades of watching governments as a journalist I am not easily shocked, is the ugly reality that 62% of the utility staff make more than $100,000 annually. (I added annually just in case some thought such a sum would be for two years.)
This is happening in a province of record unemployment. I don't care what the official estimate of jobless is. I include all the people who have given up looking for work, all those who don't have real work, all the work that is really part-time, all the kids being screwed by companies who don't pay them as interns, all the people who would like to retire but can't afford to, and all those who hate their jobs but can't find a better one.......
Many would settle for half the salary of these OPG fatties.
The great defence, supposedly, of the huge salaries paid to CEOs of public and private companies and agencies is that you have to pay them that much to keep them. Why? When you consider all the talent sloshing around every country, it is just plain silly to pretend that you have to overpay to keep some guy just so he can lose hundreds of millions in gold mines, buy the wrong helicopters for medical evacuation, or not save a phone company, to name just three of the recent examples.
There there are the giant public service unions who say it is important to pay handsomely -  or should that be pay ugly - or the men and women will just go and work in the private sector. Oh really? You mean where there are mass firings and layoffs 365 days a year.
Union membership has been shrinking in the private sector. The only reason it hasn't in the public sector, where obese unions like CUPE seduce our taxes from politicians, is the pols never act like it's their own money.
Consider after all the incredible crap that Rob Ford has pulled that he still has a large minority of support. In a world where taxpayers were content, 125% of them would like to see him being chased by police dogs through Nathan Phillips Square.
Ford is a champ of tax cuts. That is such a rare thing these days that he could be spaced out on every strange substance in the world and he would still have some support.
What a terrible indictment of urban politics today!
Too many people are furious at their politicians at every level. They are cynical about their every move. Mistrust in government has become an epidemic. No, make that the Black Plague of the 21 century that will destroy more politicians and more people and more belief in common sense democracy than any great pestilence that decimated London or decimated the world with Spanish fly.
It's so bad that in a debate in support of the famous Churchillian phrase about democracy being the worst form of government save for all the others, victory would not be certain for Winston's side.

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