Archive for November 2010

Year 2010 and the draft

November 18, 2010

It’s been awhile since I’ve entered anything in Chronospots.  Sorry to be so lax.  I guess a good place to start would be what has been occupying my time instead of posting.  It’s been a pretty eventful year for Patty and me, especially Patty.   She’s active in the AARP Tax Aide program and is the State Training Coordinator which means she attends and plans conferences to train instructors and coordinators for AARP.   This job is volunteer and she doesn’t get paid for it but it keeps her active and involved.

As soon as she could break away from the Tax Aide Program she left for 6 weeks in Hawaii starting the first week in February.  I joined her in Maui the last week of February and we returned home on the 20th of March.  Then we spent a week at Kala Point near Port Townsend in April and a week in Seattle at Susan & Kai’s place in June.  Then Patty took off for Copenhagen with Traci and Rene and the grandkids in July for a couple of weeks where Rene was teaching at the Copenhagen Business School.  They made a weekend trip into Paris and had a great time.  Patty came home for a day and then left for Dallas for a training conference with Tax Aide.   In August she spent a couple more weeks in Seattle and on Patos Island in the San Juan’s where she is involved in another volunteer activity restoring a lighthouse there.

In September we got itchy feet and went to Hawaii again for a week.  This time it was all on Air Force cargo planes and we spent several days at Travis AFB trying to get on a flight.  We don’t really mind that, we used to live there.  Then in October we went to Eugene for another training conference and then to Seattle again where we went with Susan and Kai to Washington DC for Jon Stewart’s and Stephen Colbert’s Rally to Restore Sanity/ Keep Fear Alive. 

The only thing we have planned for the rest of this year is Patty going to a training conference in Portland which she has put together.  I can’t go because ‘The Neighbors’ (Traci, Rene and the boys) are leaving for the Philippines for Christmas and so I’m watching over the houses and pets.  Anyway, that brings us up to date on our year.

The one thing that I would like to mention is in regards to Veteran’s Day.  I got a lot of mail about honoring our veterans and how noble, patriotic and selfless they are.  I spent 20 years in the military, both Navy and Air Force, from 1959 to 1979, so I guess that qualifies me as a veteran and I’m none of those things.  Maybe patriotic; used to be, more than I am now.  I no longer buy into that ‘My country, right or wrong’ notion.  I now know we’ve been wrong lots of times.  I joined the service to get out of Springfield and see the world.  It worked.  I never went back.  I’ve had an interesting and exciting life and many experiences that I wouldn’t trade for anything.  The military was good to me and I got excellent training and a college education out of it.

I spent my final few years in the Air Force in Recruiting Service and I was a good salesman because I really believed in my product.  I felt the military provided the nation a good service in training kids that didn’t have many options and in showing them how to behave themselves.  I still feel that.  I think the worst thing we ever did was in doing away with the draft.  I believe everyone should serve in the military or public service at subsistence wages for a couple of years and then should be eligible for a college education or other training upon fulfillment of that obligation.  If everyone was subject to the draft again maybe politicians wouldn’t be so anxious to go to war.  Power and money could still keep you out of harm’s way, i.e. the deferments of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Bill Clinton and George W’s ‘sort of’ Texas Air NG service.   However, that could be better controlled if there was a price to pay for getting caught doing that or if we made that a condition for government or political service.

I’ve noticed that the pay has skyrocketed since I joined in ’59.  I got $60/mo then and when I got out of the Navy as an E-5 three years later I was making $170.  Now the pay scale shows an E1 could get up to $4,000/mo if he was also eligible for housing, subsistence and family separation allowances.  And a $1500 initial clothing allowance.  When I retired with over 20 years in, I got about $900/mo.  Now a Master Sergeant gets $7200 with the same allowances as above.  Oh, all this with free medical and dental and commissaries and exchanges and free travel options too.  Much of this has to do with the ending of the draft.  We’re paying up to $90,000 for reenlistment bonuses now to keep people in that we’ve trained because they’re too valuable to lose.

The military is now looking at modifying the retirement package because personnel costs are so high.  It’s probably way overdue, just like Social Security benefits need a major overhaul.  However, we’ll probably keep our heads in the sand until it’s too late with disastrous results.  We’re spending 63-68% of our Federal budget on the Pentagon, over $500,000,000,000 a year which is more than the rest of the world put together.  North Korea spends $15B and China $35B, together only a tenth of what we spend.  Yet we complain about spending money on health care and education, both areas where we trail the rest of the developed nations in the world.

So next Veteran’s Day, do honor those who stepped up and served but don’t buy into the idea they are all heroes.  They’re just the ones that need what the military has to offer.  Or, like Pat Tillman, wanted to something for his country and paid the ultimate price.  He’s the exception, he was a hero!


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