Once upon a time, in 1863, our city was greatly divided over a draft law that mandated service in the Army.
The South had passed a draft law exempting anyone who owned 20 slaves. In the North, the draft law exempted anyone who could pay a year's wages for a low-paid working man ($300 in those days).
After Riot, a Solution
A shameful riot occurred in reaction to the unfairness of the law but, when peace had been reestablished, the city government found a way out of the problem.
Those drafted who were unable to go were given help to pay the commutation fee exempting them. Those draftees who were willing to serve were paid a bounty in gratitude for their service. Thus, an unfair law was made acceptable.
Again our city is divided over a mandate, in this case vaccination. Mayor De Blasio sought to soften the order by offering a $500 "bounty" to those civil servants who complied, but I wish to suggest a bit more.
It seems unfair to offer money to those persons who did not comply with the Mayor's desire earlier, yet deny those who did cooperate. Why not offer all city employees (and Transit as well) $500 for proof of vaccination.
The cost would not be small. If we are talking of 300,000 workers, a $150-million price tag is large.
Or is it?
Fair Reward for Risks
We desperately needed these workers to keep our city running throughout the coronavirus pandemic. A $500 bonus for each of those workers is not a lot for their risking their lives for us. Since the authorities wish to avoid filling the hospitals with the next wave of COVID, and since they are convinced vaccinations will do this, paying a bounty to those who comply is a reasonable use of public-health dollars.
It was the experience of the Organization of Staff Analysts that by offering a similar health benefit award, we were able to raise the voluntary compliance rate to over 90 percent of our members.
Is over 90 percent enough? We could ask the scientists.
Editor's note: Mr. Croghan is chairman of the Organization of Staff Analysts