Thursday, July 23, 2009


It's six AM and I'm ready to face the day. On the internet. And what do I see but a news flash…F.B.I. Arrests Dozens in N.J. Corruption Sweep. Nothing changes. You could have seen this same headline any day, any year for the past century. That's New Jersey. I hate saying things like that because I don't like judging people by their origins, but in the case of New Jersey, corruption is a way of life. No, not for everyone, but it is for far too many people in power there.

I got a taste of it back in the late 1960's when I had to go to Edison, New Jersey as the superintendent for a subcontractor on the construction of a Buffums department store. I found out right away; the unions were corrupt, the building officials were corrupt, the general contractor was corrupt…it never ended. Everyone had their hand out. And it was never for big bucks; did I want my material delivered to the jobsite without a hitch? That could be done for $50. Did I want to bring in a couple of guys from California to help expedite the work? $100…per month. I resisted at first, but my boss, back in California, told me to go with the flow and sent me the cash I needed; no checks accepted! My local building material dealer told me how much and how to make the payments. It was fairly easy; just go to lunch with an official and bring a newspaper and an envelope with cash. Finish lunch early and depart without the newspaper and envelope.

I got to know quite a few of the local carpenters that I had hired. In fact, I was invited to Sunday dinners with lots of them. Nice guys. So I asked them why they put up with this blatant corruption? They said the alternative wasn't very pleasant. The status quo was. As long as they went along, everything was OK. Sad, but true.

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