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Bernie Madoff is a Piker

By Thomas G. Bostock

Charles Ponzi
Bernie Madoff is a Piker - Photo © Charles Ponzi

Move over, Bernie. The chickens are coming home, and you're going to need a bigger cell. All you did was fleece a bunch of greedy people for a few billion. Chump change! Your cell is going to have to have so many extra cots that it will probably occupy a state the size of Rhode Island. (Come to think of it, that will make Rode Island more desirable for tourists.) The American people are waking up and realizing that they have been scammed in a way that would make Charles Ponzi green. We're almost broke, and we find it was all for "The Children." It's a "Let them eat cake moment" without the grace and beauty of Marie Antoinette and, unfortunately, without the guillotine. The contorted faces of the demonstrators we see on the tube carrying their hate filled and sometimes misspelled signs is all we need to know; the ride is over, and the freeloaders are going to have to get off.

Imagine "rights" that are special privi-leges for an elite whose working day is six hours and its working year is 183 days. Ask the independent plumber or carpenter or warehouse worker about retirement at fifty-eight at eighty per cent of his last three years. Oh, and you can cash in your accrued sick days, too, you know, the ones you didn't use to extend your weekends. Think of it, the incestuous relationship with politicians is now getting some air. Politicians: define them as mendicants for union largesse one day and negotiators sitting across a bargaining table and giving a wink and a nod to the union reps on the other side as they "represent" the people who pay the bills. How cozy, how sweet, how Keynesian: "In the long run we are all dead." Let the future pick up the tab.

In the meantime, the public schools are hollowed mausoleums filled with some people who are aware of the scam but are actually trying to instruct, education majors who accept the system as their just desserts, and administrators who are keeping the lid on while they extoll the new program that will turn things around if we are only patient. A programmatic churning which constantly recycles the same tired old ideas with new names while they seek more and more money from the feds, the state, the municipality, and grants from guilty billionaires. The churning never ends. So shameless is this churning, that if it were your accountant, he would end up in the cot next to Bernie.

The inevitability of this moment has been obvious for many years. It is sad that most of the people who started the public union movement were motivated by real abuses. I heard the stories from the founders of my local teachers' union in the early seventies while, over beers, they regaled us with stories of keeping their jobs by affixing signs to their cars and standing in the rain campaigning for their sponsors. The pay was low and real job security was missing. They had fought the good fight to clean up a system that was corrupt and acted to force some light in. These teachers I honor. They were members of the generation that had endured the depression, had won WWII, and had returned and taken advantage of their veteran's benefits and entered the profession. As they moved on, Parkinson 's Law took over ("Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion."). The bureaucracy inexorably expanded from two administrators and a secretary overseeing forty thousand students to the present scores of administrators overseeing a little more than half as many… all of these faceless bureaucrats justifying their positions by regulation, rules, and more churning.

Reality is difficult. It's nice to think that Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic can be acquired through charm and fun. Mantras are nice, too. We have purchased them with our taxes and our credit for too long. Verities are better and longer lasting: learning is work; time on task may not be fun filled; discipline is not medieval; manners and virtues are not outmoded, and there is no free lunch. There are others, too: one is "There is a sucker born every minute …" The rest of the line should be acknowledged: "…and two to take him." The American people are getting over being the first, and the second group must wake up or join Bernie. After all, it's never too late to repent.


The author of this op-ed has been an educator in the public school system for over four decades and is a former "Massachusetts Teacher of the Year".The following is a point he made that is pertinent to this issue. "This is my 41st year of compulsory unionization. 41 years of seeing my dues in three associations going to candidates I don't support. The undemocratic nature of being blithely fleeced by the state and the national organization raises my blood pressure."

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