Thursday, December 1, 2011


"If Parsons and Jones can’t see how insulting, 
how galling that is for ordinary working 
taxpayers — many of whom toil away without
the benefit of any pension savings whatsoever
— then they’re clearly unfit to represent the 
interests of average Newfoundlanders and 

Telegram Editorial
DEC 01, 2011


Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Case in point? American Airlines.
The airline’s parent company, AMR, decided earlier this week to declare bankruptcy. As soon as it announced its intentions, observers pointed out that the airline was primarily taking the step to keep up with the Joneses in the airline business and that the move would allow the airline to shed loan obligations, airplane leasing contracts and fundamentally alter its labour agreements, including pension obligations.
In other words, at the expense of lenders, employees and shareholders, airline management would get a “do-over” to cleanse itself of past mistakes.

The move will make the airline more able to compete with other U.S. airlines that have already done the same thing — but it throws into high relief the fact that, at the higher levels of business, you get a different kind of treatment for financial obligations you don’t feel like living up to. Imagine if you simply decided to go preemptively bankrupt to, say, get a new and lower mortgage rate and shed all your credit card debt. Chances are you wouldn’t be carrying on, business as usual, the way American Airlines says it plans to.
And you wonder why people are upset about special treatment?

While we’re on the topic of special treatment and things that you might be able to do — but probably shouldn’t — here’s two words: Kelvin Parsons.

After the Liberal Party bought ads to pick a new chief of staff for the party, Parsons was picked in short order. Yvonne Jones, who’s handling opposition leader duties until the Liberals find a new leader, says she has no problem with Parsons pulling down a full-time salary for the job — while at the same time receiving a pension for his years as MHA.

“I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t collect it,” she told The Telegram on Wednesday.

If you need any reason why the Liberals barely deserve opposition status, let alone government, this is it.
Yes, Parsons could probably legally double-dip, soaking up a taxpayer’s salary along with a gold-plated pension from a MHA pension fund so bereft of MHA contributions that it’s essentially paid in full by taxpayers, too.

But if Parsons and Jones can’t see how insulting, how galling that is for ordinary working taxpayers — many of whom toil away without the benefit of any pension savings whatsoever — then they’re clearly unfit to represent the interests of average Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

It’s not a simple misstep. It’s an indication of the fundamental rot of a class of politicians who believe they are, to quote former Liberal MP David Dingwall, entitled to their entitlements.

As mistakes go, it’s hard to imagine a more telling one.

Like American Airlines, it’s one set of rules for those at the top, and another for everyone else.

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