By Bob Harris
The newspapers and TV constantly tell of all kinds of crime. At a recent meeting, one senior citizen made the comment that the mentality of our country is to get something for nothing. This statement sounds plausible, but the question is how many people think this way.
A number of Queens residents invested with Bernard Madoff. People constantly walk in the rear door of buses or under the turnstiles to get a free ride. Goods sold on Queens sidewalks are probably stolen, but are cheaper than those sold in stores.
For years this column has complained that almost all the retirees from the Long Island Rail Road receive high disability pensions. Finally, the U.S. attorney and the FBI have indicted 11 people for helping people file false disability pensions. LIRR officials are angry now, but when almost everybody was receiving extra-high disability pensions for years, they did nothing. It seems that even last year, after there were stories in the newspapers about these scams, LIRR disability filings continued to remain high.
Do not get me wrong, if employees are injured on the job or toxins make them ill, they should receive a disability pension, but not for normal aging or reckless lifestyles.
Since 1936, various bills have been passed to give our uniformed city workers’ pensions due to line of duty activities. But the list of illnesses have expanded so much over the years that many uniformed workers get disability pensions. Those who worked at Ground Zero deserve compensation for their illnesses, but some illnesses may just be due to a person’s lifestyle or family genetics and are not job-related.
Our society cannot afford these extra-high disability pensions. Our pension systems were set up to cover normal pensions based on normal salaries and normal amount of disabilities, but these scams will cause the systems to go broke which will hurt many innocent retirees.
Some people file false Social Security claims. A Floral Park woman was convicted of filing false Social Security claims and is now serving two years in prison.
The selling of drugs is our biggest scourge. Addicts steal, rob or kill to get money for drugs. Cartels corrupt officials to let them deal in drugs. The global and local war on drugs has been going on for 40 years by the United States since it was announced by President Richard Nixon June 17, 1971. We have spent about trillions of dollars over the past 40 years fighting drugs.
What do we have to show for it? We have more people in prisons than in any other country in the world. What do we give our public schools?
Another scam is that millionaires and some big firms in the United States pay little federal taxes. These tax scams deprive our government of needed money to pay for services for the people and drive up our deficit. Why can’t we get these tax loopholes closed? To be fair, some companies may have only deferred taxes. But how much is deferred?
Subsidies to all types of companies are a scam on those of us middle-class people who pay our taxes automatically because we do not have scams to help us. Farm subsidies are terrible. At one time, subsidies to corn growers to get our ethanol industry going may have been desirable, but not today with our federal debt.
Last year, 25 CEOs of our wealthiest corporations were paid more money than their companies actually paid in federal taxes. Some of these CEOs received millions of dollars. Some people criticize the Occupy Wall Street Protesters, but they seem to have something to complain about.
There were articles saying that OWS protesters were driving customers away from businesses, but when I was down there last week many business-type and tourist-type people were on Broadway and nearby streets going about their business. The NYPD also agreed to take down those crowd-control metal barriers it had on nearby streets so ordinary people could move more freely. The few crimes reported in the papers seem like the normal crimes one finds around town.
We need a moral awakening to stop all the scams and crimes and criminal activities in our society. Perhaps the OWS demonstrations will galvanize society to take moral action and not to just put more people in jails.