Last week Ed Konini asked for a clarification of inequality (“The ‘inequality’ canard,” Letters). He asked if a bank teller should be paid the same salary as a doctor. Obviously not. But the CEO of a bank should not make more in a day than a bank teller makes in a year.
Then he asked if a bus driver should earn as much as a pilot. There was a time when wide-body international captains earned $300,000 or more a year. Now? First-year pilots at US Airways would, theoretically, earn a minimum $21,600 a year (If they were hiring). In 2009 Congress was shocked to learn that the co-pilot on the Cogan Air commuter plane that crashed near Buffalo on Feb. 12 earned only $16,000 a year. (The company later said $23,900.) People who transport garbage earn more! The average salary for an MTA bus operator is $46,000. Is that too high? Is a human life worth less than garbage?
Mr. Konini says the Constitution only guarantees equality of opportunity. And he is absolutely right. The average American is not asking for a handout, he wants an even playing field. A chance to earn a decent living and not have to work two or three jobs to provide for his family. According to the U.S. Labor Department, since 1978 CEO pay went up 725 percent, worker pay went up just 5.7 percent! I hope that helps clarify the definition of inequality. Yet unions are to blame for our economy?
Mr. Konini continues his letter by asking if anyone with an ounce of integrity can clarify which international law authorizes confiscation of private wealth. Ask the CEOs who’ve kept the American worker from earning a decent living wage while lining their pockets with obscene profits. I can’t speak about international laws but I can speak about the universal laws of compassion and fairness and human dignity.
The Pope knows what I’m talking about. The Pope whom Republicans used to hold in high reverence. That is, until he condemned them for their greed.
Mr. Konini continues by saying “no amount of government redistribution can overcome the ultimate poverty of spirit.” I’d like to give him a different viewpoint: “No amount of personal wealth and self righteousness can overcome knowing your fellow man is dying of starvation while you light a cigar with a $100 bill.” He ends his letter with a quote by Alexis de Tocqueville. Here is another one he should consider: “Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.”