The train into Manhattan was ten minutes late the other day and to my surprise, a few people started talking. This was noteworthy because these people take the same train every day at the same time and stand in the same place each morning and sit roughly in the same area, and yet conversation is rare.
Perhaps because the weather was warm and there was nothing else to do, a few commiserated over how poor the Metro North service has become.
One gentleman, dressed in a custom-tailored Italian suit said, “Metro North has the money to fix these lines, but all the money goes to pensions. They’ve got to break those contracts.”
I’m sure rail workers have fabulous pensions and benefits, but it’s difficult work and dangerous: every couple of years someone dies on those tracks. When I think of Metro North issues, pensions don’t jump out as the reason for old trains, rickety tracks and delays. But no doubt pensions are a problem for lots of public operations, including Metro North.
I was tempted to jump in as these banker types bemoaned the wealth of these working folks, as if they were making millions illegally through insider trading. What are the odds each of these execs have a contract that is guaranteed even if they get fired?
But I’ve learned you have to pick you times for such engagements, and this didn’t feel like the time or place.
Someone needs to tell these folks that when the rules for the haves are different from the rules for the have nots, sooner or later the have nots are gonna rise up and make a big stink.
The haves are more disconnected today than ever to what’s really going on with folks who simply get by paycheck to paycheck. If this economic gap continues to grow, that will be a problem for all of us.