You may have heard that there is a school bus strike in New York City, affecting 150,000+ children. What you might not have realized is how absolutely nightmarish the existing city contract with its kiddie-haulers is. New York Post columnist John Podhoretz sketches out a just hellish vision of city services gone horrible:
These workers aren't city employees. They work for private companies. The city's contracts with those companies are up in June. The city plans to bid out the work.
It has to. You want it to. Trust me: Under the terms of the current contracts, providing this bus service costs — I hope you're sitting down before you read this next clause — $7,000 a year per passenger. […]
All in all, the city spends — again, are you sitting down? — $1.1 billion on school busing. […]
[The 1979 contract] effectively ensured lifetime employment for unionized drivers no matter what private company they worked for. Contracts with the companies were renewed without competitive bidding. […]
The then-head of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181 pleaded guilty to charges of bribery in 2006; he was a member of the Genovese crime family. Four city workers whose task it was to ensure safety for handicapped riders were sent to jail in 2009 for soliciting and receiving bribes in the tens of thousands of dollars — from bus operators looking for lucrative routes.
In other words, everybody in the system was profiting from the colossal streams of cash guaranteed by the 1979 deal.
That deal, as Podhoretz points out, was thrown together as the result of…a long strike. Here's hoping the city doesn't cave.