Friday, April 8, 2011

Free Labor

I have no idea if we will get paid or not this upcoming pay period. I wish I had the energy to get worked up about it. But the fact of the matter is we have done this act a half a dozen times since joining the Hawaii Guard 6 years ago. My husband was on 2 year orders, which meant every 2 years (3 times) he had to renew his orders which meant there may or may not be a gap in the pay cycles depending on whether or not the chain of powers that be put their signature, entered data or generally paid attention before the due date. Sometimes it happened, sometimes it didn't. Each time we felt considerable stress- waiting to see if we would have to pay the mortgage and float the rest of the bills. We knew we would get paid, eventually. There are many families out there who are facing loss of hours, or jobs- for them there will be no reimbursement.

When Phil went to train in Florida, same routine- he became part of a different pay pot=lots of paperwork and uncertainty. Same thing on the return trip. Fortunately, it all worked out.  Many times people enlist and stay in the military for this coveted ideal called job security. I have heard the snide comment more than once during this recession- about how it must be nice to know where your pay check was coming from. I know exactly where it comes from. It comes from your tax dollars as ciphoned out by congress and signed off on by the president. The tax dollars many would like to put back in their pocket so they could reinvest in society, strengthening our economy. Tax dollars that also go into the pockets of congressmen who seem to have lost sight of their real purpose.  Perhaps we should consider letting Starbucks run the government.  Because the ridiculous expenditures in the military are legislated, not mandated by those who are forced to serve under a bureaucracy of mismanagement.

Let's face it, war does not pay. At least not the right people.  Millions of dollars are added to paychecks in a field ripe with benefits. I am amazed everyone doesn't want to join the military- it is so lucrative. GO ahead let the sarcasm wash over you. You get commissary benefits- which means food at a cost that is about 30-50% lower than the local grocery stores. You get "free" medical care. You get all kinds of travel and special discounts. These benefits were alloted because soldiers found their civilian counterparts made 30-50% more than they did annually. When you are deployed, you get additional "benefits" such as separation pay and hazardous duty pay. You get free transportation to some of the deadliest places in the world.  You get to carry a gun. And get shot at.  All you have to do is sign your life away.  Sounds like a bargain to me.

On average- a congressman makes $170K a year. He/she is expected to work 130-190 days. They average about 140.  Less than half a year. Mind you that representatives do not permanently reside in DC- that they have homes in the state they represent. Their trips home are subsidized, many times on private jets. Their families generally live in the state they represent. So theoretically they are spending 140 days a year away from their families.

On average- I couldn't tell you what a soldier/airman/seamen makes. It depends on their education and job,as well as time in service. Military members are very much a cross section of society. Income can range from $30K to well over $200K.  The days they spend away from home vary. Many are gone over 340. Sometimes it's only a couple of weeks. Depending on their job, they may or may not have to pay for their own airfare to see their family in their own state of residence. Sometimes their trips home are subsidized on loud cargo jets that may or may not leave on schedule, may or may not break down due to lack of parts from budget cuts and may or may not divert on the way home.

The average American has felt the recession for years and in 2006 the average american income was $46,000. They may or may not have a job due to cutbacks. They may or may not have taken a pay cut in the past few years, many who have are just grateful to have some sort of paycheck. They generally live with their families and will travel for work if necessary. They do try to pay for healthcare, which is usually out of pocket. They eat at McDonald's because sometimes it's cheaper than the manpower hours used to make a homemade hamburger and that proverbial slice of apple pie. That is capitalism.

On average Americans are dissatisfied with the way the government is being run. Conscientous citizens vote and write their legislators , yet rarely receive responses.  So are you telling me in the 200 and some odd days representatives are not in session- they are unable to return mail or is there so much of it that they can not possible respond to it all? If they are not reading mail- in what other ways are they in touch with their constituents?  Perhaps we should start electing officials by Facebook poll-or perhaps on Twitter. Is that where we will find them? If so, they must be privvy to the bevvy of unhappiness being thrown their way. Perhaps we should make both military and government service mandatory.  Then the common man and woman could get a feel for how tough it apparently is to spend other people's money. Perhaps it's time to level the playing field- and remember what is worth fighting for- what brought us here-and what can happen ultimately when 2 sides with 2 varying views cannot find a way to compromise and resolve.

"The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."  President Lincoln would be ashamed. This is not what the forefathers invisioned. Perhaps it is time we become the forebearers and make this nation great for all that live here so that we can pass along the bounty to those who do not- for a country without foundation does not have a place to stand either against it's foes or next to it's friends.

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