my daily rant

I am troubled today about a couple of things. Today I read in the New York Times about the protests that firefighters and police officers are staging around town against the mayor. These protests center around the fact that the mayor’s new budget proposal only includes 5% pay raises for them, spread over three years. This is the exact same raise negotiated for other city employees, but for police officers and firefighters, they think that it isn’t fair that the raise is the same as for other city employees. Rather, they assume, that because their jobs are dangerous and high profile, they should get higher raises than other city employees. Lucky for them, since September 11, everyone loves New York City firefighters and police officers. They have the high profile visibility to make a scene. The thing is, I support labor unions. I think they should have the right to protest for better wages and benefits. What I don’t support is greed. What I don’t support is people assuming their city service is more superior than the next person. The truth is, police officers and firefighters already get paid for their overtime quite generously. I, as a so called “city manager” do not. I get no overtime no matter how late I stay, no matter how early I come in. I do not have a union to speak for me, I just have to accept whatever raises the city is going to offer me. In contrast, what the police officers and firefighers have doesn’t seem so bad. They come into court on their Regular Days Off, getting overtime, and sitting around for six hours for their cases to be called. I wish my Family Court experience was so relaxing. I do think that police officers and firefighters offer a unique public good. However, so do city sanitation workers, so do teachers, so do city attorneys even.

Here is my second troubling issue for the day – the social experiment called Reality TV. I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I watched the FOX series, “Trading Spouses” last night. I know that was a considerable waste of time, and I am sure that I could have found something more productive to do, but I just got home from the gym, collapsed on my couch, and wanted not to think for awhile (because I thought that I would just miss talking to David if I thought about anything too much). On the show, a well-off, blonde, California mother of two spoiled children switched places with a working class, overweight, Massachussetts mother. I wanted to hate Mrs. California, see her as a characteristic example of the Orange County, California Consumer class. Certainly she was materialistic. Certainly she was superficial. Yet the Massachussetts family loved her. They loved her “positive” attitude. They loved her diatribes on not eating sugar cereal. Meanwhile, the Massachussetts mother in California received a less heralded welcome. The California friends and family hated her. Certainly she was sarcastic. Certainly she was bossy. But the explanation I offer has less to do with personality and more to do with appearance. Perhaps the overweight mother was less well received because she was overweight. Perhaps her appearance alone made her self-conscious enough affect her bossiness in trying to fit in with an obviously sleeker (and I have to say tackier) Orange County. And when you are an overweight kid in Massachussetts, of course you are going to love having a skinnier, prettier mommy. It is a humiliating commentary on our civilization – because appearance is still all that matters.

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