Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Helen Thomas and Other "Entitled" Dinosaurs

When I heard about Helen Thomas's remarks and the final surrender of her coveted front row seat as the grand dame of the "elite washington press corps." mostly I felt angry. Not only because of her racist remarks, but why is a 90 year old woman - like that - still taking up space in the public domain because she is what, "an icon?"

The issue is not as many journalists claim "when is old, too old?" It's really when is enough, enough? I feel the same way about the grand Manhattan prosecutor - Robert Morgenthau. I admired, respected and liked him. But how much has he contributed lately?

In my experience, these iconic geriatrics, particularly in academia and the judicial system, draw huge paychecks they don't deserve, while sitting atop nest eggs most would envy. This selfishness alone suggests their judgment is impaired - clearly they no longer care about what's best for the organization.

Hopefully in the wake of Thomas's seat vacancy, other iconic geriatrics being harbored by non-profits and government bureaucracies will be shown the door. How can there be room for new people, new energy while these dinosaurs are still taking up too much space. If you don't move out the outmoded, there's no room to let the new in.

Plus, I'm more than slightly called that despite Thomas's public persona, clearly she's been biting her tongue for years. A woman to be admired? Sounds more like Andy Rooney of 60 Minutes. A close friend was on his production staff and said he was far from that kindly old man with observations. Can't NBC find a pundit without only an old-timer's perspective?

I recently talked with my daughter's college roommate who would desperately love to teach art in elementary school but can't find work. Meanwhile I know a third great art teacher who just shows up. She really could care less - but has tenure, a 6 figure paycheck and no real chance of being axed. She won't quit because she only has another 10 years for a full pension. It doesn't take an MBA to see what's wrong with this picture and how it's affecting our economy.

My advice to the other geriatrics taking up good jobs - you know who you are - you make the big bucks, ride on past glory and do very little (if any) work. Why not clear the way for someone else to have a chance in the sun?

That's my take. What's yours?


  1. I wonder if it's pride or a sense of entitlement that causes these people to hold on so strongly to their jobs forever and ever. There comes a point where you do have to get rid of the old blood in a company, and not just keep someone around because they've been there forever. I like your use of "icon" in this case. As one of my friends commented to me, he loved his grandma, but people like her (old racists, set in their ways) need to die so that the rest of us can evolve.

  2. thanks for the post - I didn't mean to sound harsh or that senior senior workers are all not worth it - it's the system of entitlement that perverts the ADEA that bothers me. You shouldn't get fired because you're older - but you shouldn't get to keep your job because of it either - if the juice is gone.