The sordid tale of Joe Paterno and Penn State is a metaphor for so much of what is going on in America and the primacy of blind greed over reason and brutal power over decency. The same toxic goo of deadly appetite, ego and evil that ruled the Penn State football program is the same as the forces that rule Wall Street and so much of modern corporate America. Penn State is nothing more than a dark mirror.
The New York Times story in today’s Daily Call details the contractual machinations of Paterno and his family and a clearly corrupted university board. The details of the coach’s lush contract read like the wish list of some banana republic pasha. All of this money, opulence and comfort for … a football coach? But such is America.
There is an instructive little add-on to the gooey Paterno scandal that comes toward the end of the Times story, where there is reporting about the fear of nullifying Paterno’s lucrative contract. At the very end of the story we get this:
“…given revelations in the independent report released this week that suggest that Mr. Paterno knew about allegations of child abuse involving Mr. Sandusky as far back as 1998, the question over whether the university could rightfully renege on paying the Paterno family what was owed under the August amendments was “complicated,” and one that “we haven’t looked at.”
“At a board of trustees news conference Friday, Karen B. Peetz, the board’s chairwoman, made clear that the issue would not be revisited. “Contracts are contracts,” she said.” [Emphasis added.]
So there you have it working America. If you are rich enough you can behave in a manner that detonates the reputation of your employer, betrays the very principles of someone charged with leading and educating young people, abandons basic human decency and your contract is considered a scared untouchable text.
After all, the noble chairwoman intones: “Contracts are contracts.”
Unless of course you are a labor union. In that case contracts can be nullified, voided, painted out and tossed out on a whim. Why is it a contract for a rich guy is chisled in granite and a working guy’s contract is written on toilet paper … in disappearing ink.
The reason is because we have two standards of justice in America; one for us and another form of “Just-Us” for the richest 1%. The story of the callously cruel Coach Joe Pa is an emblem for so much of what is wrong. He wasn’t so much a master of the grid iron as he was a wizard of the rigged game that is being played against working Americans.