Monday, November 9, 2009

Two worlds: a morality tale.

Here are two vastly different worlds.  You decide which is more attractive, more in touch with reality.

The Chapel Hill News lands at the foot of my driveway every Wednesday
and Sunday morning.  Like many free
periodicals, it’s sparse editorial pages serve mostly as wrappers for
advertising supplements.  So it
usually goes directly into the recycle bin with no more than a cursory glance.  But last Wednesday’s headline really got
my attention, Top school leaders forgo bonuses.  Citing funding shortfalls and a freeze on teacher salaries, Superintendent
Neil Pederson and his top deputies asked the school board not to pay their
contracted performance bonuses. 
The top payout would have been a modest $12,000, but a significant sum to
any public school educator.

Two days later a New York Times story carried this heading: Bonuses
Uncertain for Bloomberg Election Aides
It seems that, considering a razor thin victory, the Mayor’s campaign
staff are concerned they might not receive the kind of bonuses paid them by His
Honor in past campaigns.  In their
case, top bonuses had been an eye popping $400,000, often for but a few months
work.  That’s probably close to the
combined annual salaries of Pederson and his three deputies in Chapel Hill.  By the way, Bloomberg spent twenty-five
times as much on his reelection campaign as the total Chapel Hill funding
shortfall, “pocket change” to him, an essential lifeline for teachers and

Two worlds – they are as if on different planets with divergent mindsets
and distinct sets of values: selflessness verses selfishness.  In the context of a nation in pain with
still growing unemployment and the struggle of so many who, like those teachers,
face wage freezes, cuts in pay or are underemployed there is something obscene
about the fretting of Bloomberg staffers.  To put this in a broader context, consider that in Charlotte,
a two hour drive from Chapel Hill where Pederson gave up his bonus, Ken Lewis whose
“leadership” almost brought down Bank of America will be walking away any day
now with $125 Million including $53 Million in severance.  His bank, which has already made
drastic cuts, is expected to lay off some 30-35,000 more people in the years
ahead.  The vast majority will exit
with nothing but a pink slip.   That’s the world in which most of us live, the one
Pederson clearly understands and that seems a mystery to the tin-eared in the
land of make believe.

1 comment:

  1. What a contrast. You've renewed my contentedness with this little part of the earth.