Tag Archives: NYT

Whistleblowers and Wiki-leaks: Hater Talk, Half-Step Walk

New Orleans Reading the long story in The New Yorker recently, it was clear that Thomas A. Drake was no dream employee at National Security Agency (NSA), but it was even more obvious that trying to convict him of the Espionage Act was ridiculous, so seeing him plead out on a misdemeanor deal is probably largely an example of his inability to muster the resources to weather a trial and embarrass the Obama Administration.  I’ll be darned if I’ll read all the gee-whiz stories about Sarah Palin’s emails, which I have to bet are 24000 pages of the paper pushing done by governors in small states which make them do crazy things like run like the dickens for vice-president.   All of this makes me wonder what’s happening with Julian Assange and Wikileaks, who were last year’s scourge of society and humankind?

Thankfully, Assange has finally gotten the message that if he wants to save the value of Wikileaks and keep his own keister out of the calaboose, he needs to finally put a sock in it and try to hide some of his more obnoxious and paranoid personality quirks (which is not to say some of his paranoia is not warranted!).  Smartly, Wikileaks and Assange have now expanded their partnerships with even more media outlets around the world, which has meant that now a long time after the original dumps of information we are still reading citations almost daily somewhere in the world to Wikileaks.  It is categorically true that their movement of this information to the press and the people has been an invaluable resource all over the world, and one that continues to keep on giving.

The New York Times seems prissy and hypocritical in still wanting to use soon departing executive editor Bill Keller’s ham-handed and mean-spirited ad hominem slaps at Assange to give cover and comfort to all manner of forces confused over the difference between the messenger and the message.  Almost daily I read somewhere in the Times a reference to information they have gotten from Wikileaks, so who cares if they want to eat dinner with Assange and how often he showered?  Are they on the high school football team, still looking for a way to make fun of the class nerd or what?

Even more hypocritical is the continued savage curtailment of whistleblowing,  news leaks, and public spirited public employees with the bullyboy bluster of the Justice Department and its irresponsible prosecutions of anyone committed to transparency and truth.  There are hardly any other areas other than immigration and foreclosure modification policies where what the Administration says is so different than what it does.

I don’t see any apology coming soon to Wikileaks from our government or others much less news outlets with diminished capacity who are relying on Wikileaks like lifeblood, but is it too much to expect that some of them might at least finally say, “thanks!”

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Bullseye on Public Sector Workers and Unions

afscmeNew Orleans For all the talk about the U.S. Congress and what it might do at the hands of the new majority, there’s still a couple of circuit breakers handling too much power surge when business has to go to the Senate or even face a Presidential veto.  In the states rouge legislators could be much more frightening, especially as they move against public employees and therefore their unions in this last bastion of relative labor strength.

Steven Greenhouse of the New York Times wrote a scary piece this week detailing some of the draconian steps that legislatures and new governors are proposing to stick it to public employees and their unions, including in some situations outright withdrawal of recognition for the unions.   There are few folks out there that have not seen this coming particularly given the last year of struggle in heavily unionized California around state and local employees and the drumbeating by New York’s new democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo, and President Obama on wage freezes.

Part of the problem is the wide misperception that public employees are living high on the hog with better salaries and benefits, so now it’s time for them to share in the pain.  There is little evidence that this is in fact the truth.  The only traditional advantage that public employees have had historically is that their jobs were simply more stable and secure than in the private sector, and workers traded the security of a job certain for the ups and downs of the private sector business cycle.  Unions in the public sector, rather than being greedy, simply enjoyed the same security as their members since they were not facing constant employee turnover and therefore costs were less to service and generated a stable dues base.   The real crises could be the loss of that stability.

There may be some states and isolated cities where certain jobs between private and public sector are equivalent when one measures both pay and benefits, but this has been an exhaustively studied situation, and the notion that there is a significant public sector advantage is largely a politicians’ mirage.  A good example often in the news is the mismatch of pay for public sector nurses compared to those in the private sector where devotion to the job is about all that holds the workers.  Lower wage workers in the service sector have increasingly been contracted out in past economic crises and are tit for tat with the private sector if not below.

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