an opinion…to ponder

I came across the following in today’s Wall Street Journal which I thought deserved sharing, primarily because of its author.

afghanistan

afghanistan (Photo credit: The U.S. Army)

The gentleman is not someone of notoriety; rather, he’s more like…every man.


A Marine Volunteers–for a Pay Cut

by Benjamin Luxenberg

US Navy 090424-N-3271W-021 More than 500 veter...

US Navy 090424-N-3271W-021 More than 500 veterans who escorted the unclaimed remains of seven Iowa veterans to their final resting place at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery line the procession route with American flags after providin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

America owes its veterans. For the past 12 years, they have toiled and sacrificed in Iraq, Afghanistan and in so many other places around the world. Thousands made the ultimate sacrifice with their lives, and thousands more were wounded. Even those without serious injuries gave their blood, sweat and tears. When service members take their oath, they are writing a blank check to the U.S. government, to the American people, for their lives. When and how America chooses to cash that check is beyond their control.

Nor should the untold sacrifices of military families be forgotten. How many husbands weren’t with their wives during the birth of their child? How many kids’ birthdays or Little League games were missed? How many childhoods were missed almost entirely? Twelve years of war does that. The time cannot pay veterans enough to compensate for those kinds of losses.

America has asked–or, more truthfully, demanded–so much from its veterans. And yet the country must now ask for more. Not for more of those things that really matter, the things that make life worth living. What the country seeks is more material in nature: basically, money.

The current budget sequestration plan protects military pay at the expense of all other costs in the Defense Department. Because our pay (I am a Marine) has become sacrosanct, even deeper cuts in the rest of the Defense Department budget will have to be made–cuts that will endanger us now and in the future. It isn’t just a matter of national security but also of personal security. As the Pentagon reduces funds for equipment, troops may begin to wonder: Are we going to be forced to surrender body armor to keep our pay? A more reasonable balance needs to be found. Even the currently envisioned cuts won’t necessarily be enough to stave off future ones, especially if military pay continues to be off-limits.

National security shouldn’t be sacrificed on the altar of military pay. But cuts wouldn’t have to start with basic paychecks. They could begin by aligning special pay across the branches. For example, airmen who serve aboard Navy ships earn “hardship pay” while the sailors aboard those same ships don’t. Serving aboard ship isn’t reasonably more difficult for an airman than it is for a sailor or Marine. Lodging and food allowances for those temporarily assigned to certain units can be reduced; there is no need for service members who are on temporary active duty in Bahrain–sometimes for as long as a year–to receive $142 per day on top of all the other moneys and forms of compensation. And there are, no doubt, dozens of other small fixes that can make some difference to the military budget.

But, ultimately, even base pay may have to be put on the line. Congress should cut only what feels justified in the name of national security. The cuts should be done the American way: Those who most need the money should be affected the least. Don’t start with cuts for everyone across the board. In the Marine Corps, we have a saying” “Officers eat last.” We officers exist to serve the enlisted Marines under our command. Start with us. But don’t start with those of us who are married and on whom spouses depend. Don’t start with those of us who have children. Start with those of us who don’t. Start with the single, childless officers. Start with me.

Yet active-duty service members and veterans cannot endure these sacrifices alone. For the past dozen years, most Americans have barely felt the impact of the wars and deployments abroad. To steer the government and the U.S. economy–the greatest pillar of national security–back on track, let everyone bear some of the burden. Let civilian officials take a pay cut too. Let older Americans, including my own grandparents–Nani, Papa Bernie, Grandma Dorothy–accept some cuts in Medicare. The middle-aged (that means you, Mom and Dad) must accept some cuts to Social Security benefits upon retirement. And to my civilian friends (Greg, Preethi, David, Anna), you must accept raising the Social Security retirement age, whether it is a mere two years or a painful 10.

It is long past time for all Americans to share in the sacrifice. Nothing should be off the table. Maintaining present comforts at the expense of future security endangers everything that veterans and their families have fought for. Don’t tell them that they fought in vain. That is what America owes.

Mr. Luxenberg is a first lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. His views do not represent those of the Defense Department or USMC.


We all make sacrifices, big and small.

Even civilian families are often denied the substantive presence of working fathers…and mothers. And many do not have Uncle Sam footing the bill for health care costs and the like. 

Notwithstanding such comparable sacrifices, those in the military are charged with the extraordinary task of dying…to preserve our freedom and those of others who desire democracy for themselves.

Death is…the ultimate sacrifice.

English: Arlington National Cemetery: A U.S. M...

English: Arlington National Cemetery: A U.S. Marine with the Drum and Bugle Corps, Marine Barracks Washington, plays Taps during an interment ceremony for 11 Marines recently brought back from Vietnam. Hundreds of friends, family and service members were on hand to pay tribute to the men who made the ultimate sacrifice so many years before. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

…not something to be taken lightly…

………hugmamma.

cod liver oil?…or amputation?

Interesting choice, Paul Ryan for Mitt Romney’s Vice Presidential running mate.

(Photo credit goes to http://www.salon.com/2012/08/11/paul_ryan_and_the_rights_long_game/ )

Ryan…an attractive, charismatic, 42 year-old man. A self-professed geek, fitness fanatic, pro-life Catholic, embodiment of the values later made popular by the Tea Party, and ardently supported by the National Rifle Association.

While Ryan did not mince words about his opinion of the President, I applaud the candidate for heartily approving a black man occupying the White House. Paraphrasing Ryan’s words…he thinks it’s “cool.” It’s just that Obama’s not the right one. An opinion to which Ryan is totally entitled.

Also of notable interest were the different effects the loss of a parent had upon Obama and Ryan. The former enacted healthcare for all, including coverage for pre-existing conditions, while the latter wants to…obliterate ensured healthcare for all.  

The President and Ryan have already “tangoed” over their visions of America’s future. Their debates would probably be more Olympian than those scheduled between Obama and Romney. Will the candidate speak for himself…or for Ryan?

According to http://www.biography.com/people/paul-ryan-20828085,

Paul Davis Ryan was born on January 29, 1970 in Janesville, Wisconsin. Father Paul Ryan Sr. worked as an attorney, and mother Betty Ryan was a stay-at-home mom. Ryan has one sister, Janet, and two brothers, Tobin and Stan.

After graduating from Miami University in Ohio with a degree in economics and political science in 1992, Paul Ryan began working as a marketing consultant for a family run branch of a Wisconsin construction company. He entered politics a few years later, working as a legislative aide for U.S. Senator Bob Kasten, and later for Senator Sam Brownback and New York Republican Representative Jack Kemp. Ryan became interested in government after reading the literature of Ayn Rand, with whom he disagrees philosophically; Ryan has said that he rejects Rand’s emphasis on an individualist philosophy because his personal beliefs center on collectivism, a group-based philosophy.

And according to  http://objectivism101.com/Lectures/Lecture39.shtml,

There are two basic ways of understanding the relationship between individuals in a group. The first way is individualism, which states that each individual is acting on his or her own, making their own choices, and to the extent they interact with the rest of the group, it’s as individuals. Collectivism is the second way, and it views the group as the primary entity, with the individuals lost along the way.

Of primary concern to some of my generation and those that precede mine, Ryan’s economic proposal as set forth for the RepublicanParty some time ago, proposes to privatize Medicare and do away with Social Security as we know it. While these might be ideal solutions theoretically, those who have paid into the system, but have not yet reaped any benefits…will have to fend for themselves. Who in their late 60’s is adept at wending their way through the minefield that is a health insurance carrier’s bureaucracy?

And those senior citizens who are already borderline impoverished, will most likely sacrifice their health in choosing to put food in their bellies. Vouchers for $5,000, as supported by Ryan, will never cover the escalating costs to cure the aging sick in our society.

 The middle class will join the ranks of the homeless, skyrocketing their numbers into orbit in no time.

 The wealthy need not be overly concerned.

(Photo credit goes to http://www.nationalmemo.com/do-romney-hood-and-friar-ryan-steal-from-the-poor/ )

A youthful 42, the epitome of health, with a lovely wife and 2 young children, Ryan represents the future. His father and grandfather died of heart disease. With their passing, perhaps his personal ties to the older generations are easily severed.

Throwing off the shackles of the past is Ryan’s choice. Start over again. Amputate the body parts to keep the life intact, such as it is. No matter that the “parts” represent millions of people who will likely die in the process for lack of health care, rooves over their heads, food in their stomachs. They should be sacrificed for the good of society. Survival of the fittest, after all.

Ryan will have health coverage for himself and his family. His paycheck will continue…on the backs of those who go without. Some may even sacrifice their lives for this, their fellow man. No matter. The past and present should make way for the future. The aged and downtrodden are already on their way out anyway…aren’t they? Let’s hurry them along.

Better the wealthy spare a few dollars for the less fortunate…than all men, women, and children fending for themselves. Pockets of people collecting to form societies unto themselves.

If Obama is perceived as attempting to drive a wedge between the wealthy and everyonelse, Ryan and his running mate will cement that division as did the Berlin Wall which separated East and West Germany.

Ryan said in an interview when his economic plan was first proposed that it’s better to suffer the consequences now, for they would be much worse if such action was delayed. I wonder if he is prepared for the fallout should it be seismic?

More thefts, more killings, more greed, more disdain for the law.

If those with, have no regard for those without…then why shouldn’t it be just as acceptable…the other way around? Consider this when next you hear of some random killing in the news.

Ryan’s own constituents dispute his premise about economic recovery as exhibited on this youtube video.


Ryan claims to have “given up fear for Lent.” And so he has no fear of the consequences his proposal would effect. Seems to me he needs a little more roughening around the edges…like living outside the box…than what he’s experienced in the last 7 years securely ensconced in Washington politics…with health insurance…and a steady paycheck…and power to write and rewrite our governing laws.

I like to think we’re in the midst of downing cod liver oil…and we’re half-way through the dose. And for rampant inflammation, like what our country is now experiencing economically…swallowing healthful medicine is more productive…and humane…than severing limbs.

“Name your poison,” as is sometimes said. 

…the choice is yours…

………hugmamma.  😦  

BTW…where is Romney in all of this? Backing up Ryan, I suppose.  😦

(Photo credit goes to http://skydancingblog.com/2012/08/10/its-the-granny-starver-breaking-news-on-romney-vp-pick/ )

moms do what’s needed

Got a surprise call from a blogging friend today. Jaclyn and I met months ago in Cat Rambo’s “Blogging 101” class at Bellevue College. I got good vibes from Jaclyn while in class. And she’s every bit as nice as I thought she would be.

During our conversation today, she reminded me what her life is like on a daily basis. For 18 years Jaclyn has been caretaker for her only child. While this doesn’t seem an unusual situation from that of other moms, her situation is unique in that her daughter has a rare disease known as Galactosemia, a milk sugar disorder.

Galactosemia is a rare congenital disorder which affects the body’s inability to convert galactose into glucose. Galactose is a type of sugar, which is a breakdown product of lactose. Lactose is found in milk and milk products, including breast milk. Given that the galactose can not be broken down, it builds up in the body and acts as a poison that can cause serious damage to it‘s carrier(“galactosemia“). “As milk is important to a baby’s diet, early diagnosis is essential to avoid lifelong problems from this potentially fatal disorder.”     

The first trace of information that was brought to light about galactosemia was in 1908 by Von Ruess. He composed an article of his findings in an infant with many of the symptoms we now relate to galactosemia. This work has widely been accepted by scientists as the first reported case of galactosemia. However, at this time the diagnosis of galactosemia was not yet possible. It would be nine years before a similar diagnosis of galactosuria was largely accepted by scientists as a hereditary disorder. 

At the time Jaclyn’s daughter was born, galactosemia was not yet within the mainstream of medical knowledge. So doctors failed to correctly diagnose her digestive problems. Meanwhile the disease took its toll on the youngster’s body, leaving her permanently handicapped, mentally and physically. Having recently turned 18, the young woman reads at the level of a 4th grader.

Needless to say Jaclyn has been at the forefront of fighting her daughter’s fight to make the most of her life, such as it is. Where schools were not willing to pursue academics at a more challenging level, consigning her daughter to classes for children with special needs, Jaclyn decided to home school instead. With the help of other adults, her daughter is experiencing as full a life as she can. Their assistance also allows my friend some much-needed respite from her 24/7 role as caretaker.

Surprisingly, or maybe not, I never find anything in my friend’s voice to suggest that she is pained to be saddled with her daughter’s predicament. Jaclyn sounds like other moms I know who love their children, and do what needs to be done for them. Jaclyn is always upbeat, never belaboring the fact that her child is, in fact, unlike those now capable of venturing forth to make their own way in the world.

When Jaclyn calls it’s usually to ask how I’m faring with my blog. The last time she phoned it was to suggest an online site where I might want to self-publish. Today she recalled that I’d mentioned that my writing skills were honed when I had served as a paralegal for TWA in NYC. She wondered if I had the title of the book which had been instrumental in my learning to write. I replied that I learned on the job. I was enrolled in classes at night to obtain a paralegal certificate, a condition for the job to which I had already been promoted. So writing legal briefs for the attorneys with whom I worked during the day, quickly instilled me with the skills I still possess today. I learned to organize my thoughts on paper, and offer support for my assertions. Blogging has enabled me to regain my skills as a writer, after a 24-year hiatus.

When I asked with what she was currently involved, Jaclyn explained that she’s trying to secure social security benefits, however meagre, for her adult daughter. We both agreed that government bureaucracy can be mind-boggling. Because galactosemia is unfamiliar to most, she has found it daunting trying to convince bureaucrats of her daughter’s disability which has essentially robbed her of an independent life.

Ending the phone call with her usual laughter, Jaclyn admitted to signing up for Cat Rambo’s class on the writing of fantasy stories. My friend wants to take a breather from reality, and escape to the land of fantasy. God knows she deserves to enjoy a little make-believe.

for a mom whose life is her daughter’s, huge hugs…hugmamma.