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Working isn’t working unless you’re actually working

GARY LINDSTROMspecial to the daily

“That ain’t workin’. That’s the way you do it. Money for nothin’.” – The famous refrain from the Dire Straits song.When I was working in construction in the 1970s, there was a term for the fellow who had the job that did not require too much work. Everyone called him “Easy Money” because his money was easy to make.I thought of that song last week when the Denver Auditor’s report came out about the workers at Denver International Airport getting paid for not working. Easy money.In the 1960s, when I was a New York City police officer, one of the hundreds of scandals involved several police officers and firefighters who were being paid but who had never worked one day on the job. In fact, they had other full-time jobs, so they were getting two incomes while only working one job.

Apparently, it involved supervisors in the police and fire departments who were signing time sheets for them and then getting a cut of the take. I wonder if they were given retirement parties by the department after 20 years of not working.It is about government and the inherent inability to pay attention to detail.I have worked several places where there was a resistance to time cards or a resistance to creating a system of accountability. I am sure that they still do not have them in the New York police or fire departments, but I would hope that they would do something at DIA.We just passed a bill that will allow the Colorado Department of Corrections to put global positioning satellite equipment on persons on parole. That will allow the officers to track the clients without having to run all over the place looking for them.Maybe we could do this with employees? (Before you write your nasty letter, I am not serious.)

I think the issues are much greater, and it gets into something I have written about before.We have two choices. We can do things right, which means following a rule or a procedure, or we can do the right thing, which means doing what is moral and ethical.The people who do the right thing do not need a GPS system or a time card system. They show up early and leave late.The people who do things right are always pushing the envelope and coming to work as late as possible and leaving as early as possible. If there is not a written rule or procedure, they feel they are not accountable.I tell my students that 98 percent of our population is normal, and 2 percent are sociopathic and incorrigible. That group does not know the difference between right and wrong. Our jails and prisons are full of these folks, because their rule in life is there are no rules. They can even commit murder and never feel any remorse. They will often go through life blaming the other person and never accepting any responsibility for their own behavior.

The truly sad part of this story is there are some highly co-dependent people in our society who spend their entire lives trying to fix these people. Of course, the bottom line is the sociopaths end up taking everything they can from the co-dependents, and then go merrily down the path of life whistling a happy tune.In the case of the police officers, firefighters, and DIA workers, there might be some redemption. Maybe they do know the difference between right and wrong. Maybe they will not blame the system for letting them get away with their crimes. Maybe they will not blame their supervisors for not doing a good job and letting them get paid for work they did not do. Maybe.State Rep. Gary Lindstrom of Lakeview Meadows represents Summit, Eagle and Lake counties. He writes a Monday column. He can be reached at gary@garylindstrom.com, or visit http://www.garylindstrom.com.


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