Nipawin - Saturday, October 20, 2001 - by: Mario deSantis

abuse of

"I maintain that the main source of corruption is the abusive exercise of power, be it economic,political or military."
-- Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate


"The behavior of a system arise from its structure"

-- John D. Sterman, Professor at MIT




It is only now that I realize why in the last ten years we have been told to be nice and be politically correct. It was a way to deny the wrongs that today's capitalism has brought upon ourselves and conceal our widespread corruption.


There are ways to change Capitalism and I have made a reference in the past to the work of Jeff Gates and his idea of Shared Capitalism for a more equitable and sustainable form of free enterprise. President Bush says that we have to fight the evil-doers and I say that we have a social system that produces our own evil-doers. We must just think about our social inequalities as the world's 200 richest people own assets greater than the combined income of the world's 2.5 billion poorest people. But let us deal with this problem of evil-doers within the following perspective.


I stated that we are our own evil-doers. I am going to make an exmple referring to our airport screening personnel as U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta is reiterating Friday, October 19 about the need of background checks for airport personnel.


After September 11, we have come to know that safety in the United States airline industry is being secured by airport screening personnel who are paid the minimum wage of $6.00 per hour, who have had only few hours of training and who in some instances experience an overall turn over employment rate of 700% per year. In Europe, these same screening personnel have stable permanent employment, they are trained and they are being paid approximately $15 per hour plus benefits.


In 1998, the U.S. prison population was 1.8 million or roughly 674 people in prison per 100,000 while in Europe the imprisonment rate is 60 to 100 per 100,000.


A reasonable inference. Out of 100,000 people approximately 40,000 are not employable because they are either children or older people or because of other reasons; this leave us with 60,000 people. U.S. airport screening personnel come mostly from the lowest income households. The lowest fifth of households ranked by income had an upper limit annual income of $17,950 for the year 2000. One fifth of 60,000 people would represent the pool of people from which to hire airport screening personnel, that is 12,000 people. Some 90% of inmates come from the poorest segment of the population and therefore we could say for instance that out of the above 12,000 mentioned people approximately 600 were in prison in year 2000. Whenever we realize that people get in and get out of prisons every year, then after so many years there is a good probability that everybody of those 12,000 people has been in jail at least once throughout his/her lifetime.


Last Friday October 11, investigators found that Argenbright Security was continuing hiring employees with criminal records. Also, in May 2000, three managers of this security firm pleaded guilty to hiring employees with criminal backgrounds and deliberately falsifying the records, and as a result the company was ordered to pay more than $1.5 million in fines and restitution as well as take steps to prevent the violations from recurring.


Now we know why these three managers were falsifying criminal records for their employees, they were running short of any pool of people with no criminal record and who would be working for a minimum wage! Therefore, U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta along with the Federal Aviation Administration are wrong in demanding that screening personnel be clean of any criminal record without making major changes in both the airline industry and public policies. The airlines are at fault when they want to increase their profits by offering minimum wage to screening employees.

anti social

It is my contention that today's social inequalities have created a perverse economic structure where people with lower incomes have acquired more than any other people a propensity for anti social behaviour including criminality. Therefore, the raising of the minimum pay for screening employees is not per se an answer to increase the flying public's safety and social well-being. It is my contention that we need to narrow the gap between the poor and the rich, and it is my contention that social policies compatible with the philosophy of Shared Capitalism would be a supportive solution for a better social system.
"challenging a paradigm is not a part-time job. It is not sufficient to make your point once and then blame the world for not getting it. The world has a vested interest in, a commitment to, not getting it. The point has to be made patiently and repeatedly, day after day after day"-- Donella Meadows, author of The Limits to Growth
  The Shared Capitalism Institute, Jeff Gates & Christopher Mackin
  Airport security is national defense and a public good, so why do we rely only on the private sector to provide it? Paul Krugman, September 16, 2001
  FAA orders criminal checks on airport workers, CNN, October 17, 2001
  Money Income in the United States: 2000, U.S. CENSUS BUREAU, Issued September 2001
  Table A-2. Share of Aggregate Income Received by Each Fifth and Top 5 Percent of Households:1967 to 2000 (Households as of March of the following year. Income in 2000 CPI-U-RS adjusted dollars)