Buffalo BEAST - Buffalo's New Best Fiend

August 24 - September 7, 2005
Issue #82

  ..Buffalo's Best Fiend
Evolution Rock
Jesus or Darwin? An ultimatum
Allan Uthman

Keepin' it Real
Cindy Sheehan, representin'
Shawn Ewald

It's Gettin' Hot in Here
Global Warming: Warming the Globe?
Kit Smith
Large & in Charge
Bob Wilmers, Buffalo's control freak
Donnie Dobovich
People Like You
You people just don't get it

Michael Manville

No Strategy, Just Exit
Fractured left threatens itself

Stan Goff

The Real Greatest Americans
Screw the Discovery Channel
Erich Schulte

Buffalo in Briefs
The Sports Blotter
The Week in Sports Crime
Page 3
Celebrity Math
Separated at Birth?
Kino Korner: Movies
[sic] - Letters
 Cover Page

Idiot Box
Perry Bible Fellowship
Bob the Angry Flower

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“Swan” Song

You’ve probably heard this rant, if not on a right wing talk show then maybe at the water cooler at work, or over a few beers at the bar:

“There they go again! Those fat and greedy unions are sticking us poor taxpayers with their liposuction bills because they’re too damn lazy to work for a living like us little guys. Why should they get health insurance? I don’t get health insurance; nobody gets health insurance. Cosmetic surgery they get with their health insurance! It’s public school, not “The Swan!” And we have to pay for it!”

This rant was brought to you by a recent article in the Buffalo News by Lou Michel (“The Public Cost of Vanity,” 8/21/2005). Although the article does shed light into how cosmetic surgery came to be included in the unions’ health care packages, it’s a hanging curveball for right wingers intent on fomenting anti-union animus at a time when the union movement as a whole is at a nadir.

If you’re not in one of those cosmetically enhanced public employees’ unions, you’ve probably felt compelled to simply nod your head in agreement to the “unions are to blame for everything” argument. After all, it’s really hard to argue that such elective surgeries should be paid for with tax dollars—in fact the idea sounds totally crazy, until you realize that these privileges wound up in union health care packages as poisoned fruit.

If you are a professional negotiator, your job is to get the best possible deal for your client. If you’re a health care provider, you’re looking to fatten your bottom line, not put it under the scalpel. So it shouldn’t come as any great surprise that public employees are given an incentive to visit plastic surgeons. Naturally, the problem is that it gives the unions a black eye and the taxpayers a thin wallet. But everyone else makes out.

In Buffalo, the push is to force all public employees’ unions to get their health insurance from a single provider. That health care provider is none other than BlueCross BlueShield of WNY, the very same health care provider that included cosmetic surgery under the unions’ “traditional plan.”

The City’s contract negotiator, who ostensibly should have been the person to sound the alarm about the nip and tuck perks, Leonard Matarese, was quick to point the finger—not at himself or at BlueCross BlueShield, but at the unions. He told the Buffalo News that “There are a lot of people in the city without health insurance, and they’re paying property taxes for hair transplants. The moral thing for police and fire would be to give up cosmetic surgery so we could afford to put nurses in schools.”

This is another sad case of union leadership not realizing that public opinion has been mobilized against them by the business elite of this community. The next time they allow this kind of Trojan horse within the gates, they should check its anatomy. After all, the monopolistic business leadership in this area has very little to offer that is both real and fabulous.

Brief 1 -- Power? Authority?
Brief 3 -- The Joy of Gioia

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