News From OSA - August, 2012

“So, periodically, the concentration of wealth becomes extreme, and gets righted by taxation or by revolution.”

This quote is from Will Durant in his book, “The Life of Greece,” published in 1939 and eventually part of a 10-volume set, “The Story of Civilization.”

The quote refers to events in the city of Syracuse, (the one in Sicily, not the one in upstate New York.) Syracuse, in 300 B.C., was a democracy. However, in 320 B.C., a rich man’s revolution put the government into the hands of 600 oligarchic families. This led to a more radical revolution in which 4,000 were killed and 6,000 of the well-to-do were sent into banishment. Eventually, a dictator (Agathocles) arose, promising a cancellation of debts and a redistribution of land. He won control.

The story of Syracuse was repeated a thousand times, with local variations in the many Greek city states.

In city after city, some citizens became wealthy, and then, more wealthy still, thanks to the advantage of their original wealth. Money makes money.

Here, in New York, as in the country at large, the concentration of wealth has been accelerating since the late seventies.

America’s wealth increased due to globalization of trade, which is a good thing. Unfortunately, most of us did not get any of that wealth.

We pay taxes. General Electric and other corporations escape them. Billionaires use off-shore tax havens. We are in unfair competition with the rich - and we are losing.

You really should march in the Labor Day parade this year. The reason for marching could be that you are disgusted with the Mayor for playing politics with your salary.

The Mayor gave most of us 4% and 4%, after the fiscal crisis was clear, simply because he wanted to be re-elected. If we doubt that, consider his current position. Now, we either give him money or he won’t negotiate at all.

In other words, he doesn’t give raises because we deserve them, or need them to keep up with inflation. He gives raises only when he feels he has to, in his own self-interest.

Right now, the Mayor is sitting pretty. He is rich, and we are not. He is important, and he makes it clear, by him, we are not. He doesn’t like us very much anyway. How else would you explain his comments regarding our fate after he leaves office?

He said we would get no retroactive raises for these years from the next Mayor, either. There is an old folk saying, “From his mouth to God’s ear.” Used sarcastically, it mocks the speaker’s arrogance in ordaining that over which he has no control.

The one thing we have going for us is that we actually can run the City very well without him, but he cannot run the City at all without us.

We are important, but especially when we march or stand together.

We must remind ourselves of our own power, and one way to do that is to march in the Labor Day Parade.

Mayor Bloomberg has cost you a couple of thousand dollars a year for the past two (or four for some members) years due to inflation. By Labor Day of 2012, almost all of us will be at least $5,000 behind where we should be.

What can you do about it? You can blame the union for being weak and then stay home and help to make the union weak. Or, perhaps, you can join us at 11AM on Saturday, September 8th, put on the OSA t-shirt and cap, hoist the OSA umbrella as a sort of flag, and march with us up Fifth Avenue. We are assembling on 46th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. Look for the union banner and print out a copy of this flyer to remind you or share with friends and colleagues.

It will seem like a very short walk, with cheering friends and admirers on the sidewalks. The union will provide the shirts, hats and umbrellas, and once it’s over we always share a nice lunch at a restaurant.

Demonstrations and Parades matter, both to our friends and our enemies. If we show strength, we will gain respect. If we do not act now we will be given even more cause to do so later, because there is no limit to how low the Mayor and his friends want our salaries to go. Keep in mind that this was the Mayor who was enraged, openly enraged at having to pay a Security Guard $10 per hour.

Come to the parade, and by doing so, give the Mayor the raspberry. Bring your family as well, because they too are affected by what’s going on. We are not alone. We’ll be marching with perhaps one hundred labor unions.

We’ll be marching because we need a raise, we deserve a raise, and we are getting very angry at an economic elite who have lots of money for themselves and none for us.

We have had more members attending each year. If you have never come before, come this year. It will be fun, and it will make a point.

At the bottom of this page you will find links to a "master coupon" and other items of interest, including our annual analysis of our Welfare Fund, our financial statements, and how to sign up for our Political Action Committee.

Details about individual seminars are posted on this website in the "Member Services" section. You can take advantage of a range of workshops and seminars. They will help you understand what it means to be a civil servant, tell you how to deal with workplace issues and avoid conflicts of interest, encourage you to be a more effective writer, train you to be a better driver and help you plan for your retirement, among other subjects of interest. But, the most important coupon is still the "Member Update Form," where we ask you for your new phone numbers and any other updated information.

The next union General Membership Meeting will be held on Thursday, September 27, 2012 at the OSA union office, 220 East 23rd St., Suite 707, starting at 6pm sharp. You can download a flyer at this link which you can post or share with colleagues or use to remind yourself of the date.

Finally, at the bottom of this page we have posted links to a variety of articles we think you may find of interest on subjects ranging from growing inequality in our city and the growth of student loan debt to the corrupt ways of Wall Street and why government is useful, despite the myths spread about it.

Coupons, Forms and Information

2011 OSA Welfare Fund Analysis

2011 OSA and OSA Welfare Fund Annual Financial Report

Agency Shop Fee Payer Procedure

Voter Registration Form

Labor Day Parade 2012 Flyer - September 8, 2012

General Membership Meeting Flyer - September 27, 2012

Member Info Update Form

OSA Political Action Committee Enrollment Form

One Big Coupon

Use this coupon to select the workshops and seminars you would like to attend during the fall of 2012. In a few cases, you should also send in the form posted on the OSA website (for example, the individual coupon from the website for transfer requests or the pre-retirement seminar). If you are signing up for the Driver Improvement Course, don't forget to make your $40 check payable to "Cynthia Kaplan."

Articles of Interest

Five Ways Privatization Degrades America

America For Sale: A Report on Billionaires Buying the 2012 Election

Wealth and Income Inequality: Who Gets Left Behind

Harder for Americans to Rise From Lower Rungs

Comparing Economic Mobility Graphic

What A Tangled Web

Who's Very Important

News Release From NYC Comptroller Liu About NYC Income Inequality

Report From NYC Comptroller Liu About NYC Income Inequality

New York, New York, A Most Unequal Town

Economic Policy Institute Criticizes NY Times Pension Reporter As Biased

The Message From Wisconsin - NY Times Editorial

The Austerity Agenda - Paul Krugman - NY Times Column

For Sallie Mae, The Student Debt Crisis Is Enormously Profitable - Minyanville

William M Diefenderfer: The Financial Hit Man of Student Loans

NYCHA Payments To City Are Under Scrutiny

We Don't Need No Education - Paul Krugman - NY Times Column

The Safest Bank - Joe Nocera - NY Times Column

The Scam Wall Street Learned From The Mafia - Rolling Stone

(Loop)Hole In One - Elite Private Golf Clubs Do Not Pay Federal Taxes

Government Is The Solution - E.J. Dionne - The Miami Herald

Reagan Was A Keynesian - Paul Krugman - NY Times Column

Where Public Employees Aren't "American People" - Richard Steier - The Chief Leader

Ideas on Company Pensions Include Turning To States

Behind Super-Sized Sodas, A Deeper Danger - Too Much Blog

Anti Union Air Grows - Rekha Basu - Des Moines Register America's Long Slope Down

Cartoon: Use the Verb "Sacks"

The Tiny Tax That Terrifies Wall Street - Sam Pizzigati - Campaign For America's Future

How Banks Could Return The Favor - Gretchen Morgensen - NY Times

We Have Your City, Pay Up, Or Else - Dollars and Sense

$12 Million To Help Cuomo Came From Just 20 People

The Deal Not Taken - Editorial - Berkshire Eagle

Why You Vote The Way You Do - Jonathan Haidt - The Week

A Politics For The 99 Percent - Robert Borosage and Katrina Vanden Heuvel - The Nation

Doonesbury by Garry Trudeau - May 17, 2012 (Read This One First)

Doonesbury by Garry Trudeau - May 18, 2012 (Read This One Second)

Myths About Government Why government is important and needed. You can find more at the website of the Roosevelt Institute at this link: Rediscovering Government