Pirjo Raits

Editorial: Milking the system for all it’s worth

Column talks about the abuses our system puts up with

Exposing travel expenses and entitlements in the public service sector is enough to make a grown up cry and a taxpayer cringe.

While most of us taxpayers and working poor scrimp and save for a vacation or even a flight somewhere, there are those who seem to think they are entitled to raid the public purse for their own good time. And they do this without considering the source of the money.

Just recently, a freedom of information request showed the former head of Elections BC spending $43,295 of taxpayers money on travel in four short months. Never mind going economy class, this executive went business class and had the nerve to take his wife along to Kenya and explain it away as a group rate.

On Aug.28, it was reported that a former legislative clerk, who served for 54 years, was given a two-year golden handshake of $240,000/year plus expenses for his consulting job after retirement. That’s a pretty long training period for the new clerk.While it may well be a very complicated job, two years worth of “consulting” is more than a prime minister or premier gets. It’s a good guess that his pension itself is nothing to sneeze at. Oh, the former head of Elections BC, mentioned above, took over the legislative clerk’s job. And we can’t forget Bev Oda, a federal member of the House of Commons who loved to live the high life. She will collect $700,000 in benefits over the next 15 years on just $130,000 in contributions. And she’s not the only one by any means.

Add to that the over-the-top pay cheques and bonuses for executives and the bloated management in our provincial and federal employ and it’s no wonder there is a 99 per cent movement. These protestors are ticked off at the audacity of these corporate bigwigs. While so many are struggling, the honchos are growing fat dining at the trough with the taxpayer’s credit card. It’s sickening. And the higher up you go in the public service the worse it gets.

The worst thing though, is the fact that they often continue to work for the government in one capacity or other, even after being caught red-handed. There is no slap on the wrist, no hauling to the carpet, no censure, no job loss worries. They look after each other in an old boys’ club sort of way.

It happens in small communities as well as large, in the public service and in the private sector. For some reason, when people get into positions of power, with no checks and balances or common sense, they soak the taxpayers. There’s no accountability and worse yet, there’s no conscience. Their arrogance is what makes people mad. Let’s not forget Conrad Black and his inflated ego and wallet.

For us, who pay their wages, the anger doesn’t come because we want to get all those goodies for ourselves, but it’s the incredible sense of entitlement from these stuffed shirts (male and female). What makes people angry is that our taxes keep going up and our quality of life keeps going down, not even keeping up with the rate of inflation.

Those who milk the system should be exposed and no public entity should hire them if they are caught with their hands on the udders of the public purse.

But they do go on and land new jobs and double dip if they can. Their sense of entitlement remains. They have lost touch with what it is like for the average working stiff. They are above it all.

This is exactly why countries like Greece, Italy and Spain are faltering and failing economically. Their civil service is bloated and it is exploding. Civil servants there believe they have a right to a job for life once they get into the employ of the government. The scary thing is it could easily happen here.

 

Pirjo Raits is the editor of the Sooke News Mirror.

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