Continuing Community Conversations

             It occurred to me that a major advantage of public service is the training and experience in actual public administration by city/county employees, who have at least the expectation of loyalty to the citizens they “serve.” A private contractor only has loyalty to its investors, reinforced by the demands and expectations of capitalism itself. Screw the Public! What’s your bottom line? Intimate knowledge of the nuts & bolts of running a city & supervising its employees can be called the “muscle” of a community, or at least as long as the city pols are responsible to that community. By outsourcing those skills, they weaken their grip and betray the community.

And it shows in our community.

Bingo’s city fathers apparently consider their community as a pre-capitalist Feoff, (property given by a lord to a vassal in return for service) with inherited rights of Mortmain (perpetual ownership) for them, the rest of the population of Villeins (peasants) being subject to Tallage (a tax) at the will of their betters.

-Jim Amory

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My family lives on disability and a teacher’s salary. My wife received no raise this year from the school district and I saw only a marginal COLA for the 3rd time in 5 years from the Federal Government. Those COLA’s did not come close to covering inflation on food & fuel alone. This is NOT public/private partnership as Broome County Executive Debbie Preston and Chair of the BCIDA would have the County citizens believe: This is Neo-Feudalism! We are living in a feudal County where the Akels’ & Newmans’ are the Royalty and we, Broome County citizens, are their Serfs. Maybe it’s time to grab some pitchforks and torches and start storming the Castle!”

-Broome County resident and taxpayer.

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Until the 1980s, corporate CEOs were paid, on average, 30 times what their typical worker was paid. Since then, CEO pay has skyrocketed to 280 times the pay of a typical worker; in big companies, to 354 times. Meanwhile, over the same 30 year time span the median American worker has seen no pay increase at all, adjusted for inflation. Even though the pay of male workers continues to outpace that of females, the typical male worker between the ages of 25 and 44 peaked in 1973 and has been dropping ever since. Since 2000, wages of the median male worker across all age brackets has dropped 10%, after inflation. As a result, a good chunk of women’s increased salaries, according to Betty Friedan, can be explained by men’s decreasing wage.

This growing divergence between CEO pay and that of the typical American worker isn’t just wildly unfair. It’s also bad for the economy. It means most workers these days lack the purchasing power to buy what the economy is capable of producing — contributing to the slowest recovery on record. Meanwhile, CEOs and other top executives use their fortunes to fuel speculative booms followed by busts.

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I applied for food stamps in 2013. My partner was out of work and my salary is a mere $15,000 a year. Due to the car that my parents gave us and my pay schedule, we were denied. We tried, as any sensible family would, to get public assistance in a time of crisis. We were found to be ineligible. OK, fine. But does that mean that the benefits denied to me figured into the so-called $11 million savings for Broome County? How is my continued poverty a savings for Broome County? I guess Broome County thinks everyone who exercises their right to apply for welfare benefits and gets denied has just tried to defraud them! In this calculation every resident is a potential criminal and a liability, not a citizen.   And if you treat people like criminals and liabilities, you can’t treat them as citizens!

-Unaware Attempted Defrauder

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I was excited to hear the Working Families Party (WFP) finally did something good and forced Gov. 1% to publicly support a minimum wage increase to $10.30. Before we celebrate and the current momentum dies off we must remember two things: a minimum wage increase requires Democratic takeover of the Senate (not terribly likely) and that $10.30, while are good start, are still just crumbs from the masters table! The increase will not happen until after a new Senate is sworn in, no way no how. And if the minimum wage increase does happen, we cannot stop actively engaging concerns of low-wage workers! Low-wage workers need unions to force consistent wage increase, not just when it’s politically possible in Albany. Furthermore, a wage increase is not going to protect workers’ health, force employers to pay overtime, get good health coverage, and demand regular work schedules. If and when the minimum wage goes up, which I hope is soon, WE HAVE TO KEEP PUSHING FORWARD. Wages are only part of the demand, and, as it turns out, the easiest and most politically feasible option. Cuomo hopes that by supporting $10.30 he can keep low-wage workers from demanding and getting real representation in their work places. His support of the minimum wage increase is an attempt to co-opt and take the winds out of our sails. We cannot let ourselves be stopped! Low-wage workers need unions, not just $10.30!

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