Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Heart, Politics. That Kind of a Day...
As expected, two things: I'm still allergic to the tape and adhesive on the electrodes. It itches. A lot. Started 2 hours after the heart monitor was set up. I told them. They said, "It's only 24 hours, it shouldn't be too bad."
I take it off in about 8.5 minutes (not anxious or anything...) and then have to return it. Also, second thing: unless I slept through anything exciting, my heart behaved itself. Of course. Murphy's Law is in full swing.
In yesterday's Chicago Tribune, which I didn't get to because I was whining about my Crappy Red Camera (which mystery is solved, by the way), there were two articles next to each other in what I can only call Karmic Editorial Balance.
The first article was "Some Military Digs are Castles" and it concerned the vast amount of our tax dollars at work renting headquarters for top brass. For example, Marine Gen. John Kelly lives in Casa Sur, described by the Trib as "an elegant home with a pool and gardens on one of the area's swankiest streets." It's a 5-bedroom house, provided rent-free to the general. But not to the taxpayers. WE are paying $160,000 per year. One Hundred Sixty Thousand Dollars. Per. Year. For this guy's house.
Mind you, I'm not being disrespectful, but I'd like to point out that MY house (paid for by me and not the taxpayer) is probably worth about that. Period. And yes, he's a military man. And yes, he probably needs something a little more secure than my 1550 square foot ranch.
But wait. There's more. The US (meaning we the taxpayers) also paid $402,000 for renovations and security improvements that are in progress now.
Now that you've snorted your iced tea out of your nose, let's look at the other side of this jelly sandwich.
The article next to it is entitled "I'm Still Hungry" and focuses on our national embarrassment: child hunger. In America. The so-called "Greatest Nation on Earth." During the summer, when the kids are out of school, they don't get the meals the schools provide. Schools now being "food pantries" as well as places for kids to be educated. So the federal government has stepped in to provide at least one meal a day, delivered, in this story, by a school bus in a town called Greeneville, TN. Lest you think the school bus is being used for non-educational purposes, the organization responsible actually bought 4 used vehicles to get the food to the hungry kids. On the day the story was written, the Feds decided that an appropriate lunch was 2 oz. of celery sticks, 4 oz. canned oranges, chocolate milk and a bologna sandwich. We the taxpayers spent $3.47 for that lunch.
The kids aren't allowed seconds. They get what they're given. Period. Like it or don't eat it. The bus is emblazoned with a sign - or a forecast of what the economy still looks like in rural America: "Kids Eat FREE!" The article goes on to state: "For some, this would be the first meal of the day. For others, the last."
Just sit here with those two stories for a minute. Let it sink in. Go ahead.
Are you angry yet? And if you're not, why not?
Here's the thing. I'm not saying that these commanders don't deserve to live in a secure place. I think they probably should, given the amount of nuts we have in the US, not counting the foreign nuts. But since we're in a budget sequester because Congress is still mad that the Black Guy is in the White House - and since the result of that sequester is that the social services our poor depend upon have been shredded in the name of someone's idea of balance, then riddle me this: WHY are we spending that kind of money on homes for commanders?
The Pentagon has closed facilities, cancelled training and missions, and has (about the way they always do) threatened to cut enlisted pay. That doesn't include the furloughs of the civilians employed by the DoD.
The article states that "...some senior officers have quarters so expensive that they violate the military's generous rules." Including a commander of a submarine group who lives in a 6,600 square foot villa in Naples, leased for $172,000 a year. One Hundred Seventy Two Thousand Dollars. Per Year.
Contrast that with the article on hungry kids...Even with a task force of governors from various states, and food banks opening "...thousands of summer cafes" - still, only about 15% of eligible children received regular meals. Fifteen percent. Childhood hunger, according to this article, has been worsening for seven consecutive years. Seven years.
So let's ditch some of those high-end digs for the commanders. Save the $172,000 per year of the sub commander's villa. Spend it on the meals currently provided to the hungry kids: that would be 49,567 meals. I mean the meals I described above: only sack lunches, with only 750 calories each. I'm sure some nutritionist and some finance whiz could come up with a way to make the meal a little more substantial and perhaps provide more than one meal per day per kid.
All I know is that the editorial Karma that set these two articles side-by-side certainly caught my attention. I want to make sure that people are aware of what's going on.
So here's what you do: You do something in YOUR community. It's gonna take US - not the U.S. but US -- we the people. We the people have to make sure that our neighbors are fed.
If you're a liberal inclined to look at it one way, you'll say this is social justice.
If you're a conservative who tends more toward the Christian Biblical injunction, you'll note that the Bible says that's what we should do. From Proverbs to Luke to James, to Matthew and beyond. My favorite at the moment is Galatians 6:2 -- "Bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ." Do your research if the Bible isn't your preferred Book. I'll bet a lunch that the Q'ran, Torah, and any other Holy Book has a version of this quotation.
Start locally. What we do here will spread in ripples like the rings created when a tiny stone is dropped into a vast lake. Will you help by being the stone that gets dropped?
I know I will. Our church has a food pantry every week. I hereby commit to bringing something EVERY week. It stays local, and you know what? That's ok. I can't ignore my neighbors.
Neither should you. They're out there, if you have eyes to see. And a heart to care.