Sunday, September 30, 2012

To Sleep. . . Perchance to dream.

One of the greatest struggles for me since getting out of the Army, is simply put, sleep.  It's very difficult for me to get to sleep, to stay asleep, and to feel in any way rested when I wake up.  It is pretty often to wake up with my sheets all over the place thrown all over the bed in my various tossing and turning.  That is so say nothing of the dreams, or perhaps the better word would be nightmares, that accost me in the night.  Every night I must battle my own fears and doubts, sure in the knowlege that I will wake up exhausted from the struggle. 

How many times have I looked at the clock, knowing I would have to get up for work or school in only a few, hours, knowing that I would get less and less sleep.  You can calculate through the night.  8 hours, 7 ,  6.  Often times I'll let that clock tick down to just three hours, and bemoan the impossibility of getting up when the alarm finally goes off.  I want so much to just pass out into blissful sleep, but that state always seems denied from me.  As I sit there looking at the clock, knowing that this is going to cost me tomorrow, but also knowing I literally can not sleep till I'm exhausted or its daylight out. 

Then there are the nightmares.  It is not just what actually happened, those moments can be a horror all of their own.  Seeing young men, in the prime of their lives literally torn apart and being able to do little more than bandage their wounds.  Medics do not heal, they keep you alive.  Healing comes later.  In the meantime you do everything you can to keep their heart and brain going, and sometime those things hurt like hell.  But then there are the times I failed.  Then there are those scenarios that my mind creates for me.  Every horror amplified.  Did I kill someone?  What if, while returning fire my bullets went too low and tore apart a family?  What if my friend was still alive when he started to burn?  What if the insurgents had captured me?  What if I grew to like killing?  These thoughts made into vivid surreal movies for me to watch night after night.  Is it any wonder I toss and turn so much?

I wish there were a solution.  Many times I've been asked if there is a pill I could take.  Yes there are several.  But they all have side effects.  Ranging from unpleasant to unacceptable.  The major problem is that a minor sleep aid like say melatonin, which I can get over the counter, doen't work unless I take about 6-8 times the recommended dose.  Lunesta, leave a godawful taste in my mouth, and sadly doesn't do anything more.  Ambien, does actually work. . . if I take enough, but I also sleepwalk, and that has potential for disaster.  I've already found out the hard way that it does  happen.  On top of all that if I take anything stronger, it needs to be strong enough to literally drop me, because that's the only way I'm getting to sleep.  Those drugs are even more distasteful because they not only have serious side effects, but they're also addictive, leading me into the ultimate catch 22.  In order to get a good nights sleep I need to take drugs, but if I do, I'll get addicted to them and can't ever really stop taking them. 

I won't lie, there are times I really envy the people that can sleep soundly.  What dreams do you have?  Are they of great and wonderful things?  Loves you may yet have?   Adventures?  When I see people fast asleep in a state of peace that I never seem to know or feel, I can not help but think that perhaps the price I pay for having served my country is actually worth it.  I may never know peace.  I may never again know a good night's rest, but when I see others that are able to, free from the burden of care and worry that I bare, I think that perhaps if I can not have peace, then I can have satisfaction.  

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Wronger than a monkey eating his own [expletive deleted]

I just watched the opening episode of Last Resort, which was ok for the first five minuets, before it became the biggest steaming pile of crap I've seen since Hurt Locker.  let's start off with the plot: An Ohio class ballistic missile submarine picks up some SEALs making a hot extract from Pakistan. . . OK that's a little weird but ok.  The plot immediately takes a left turn, and the submarine gets orders to fire its missiles all over Pakistan.   

It gets even stranger because the orders come from the "Antarctica network" which doesn't exist, and couldn't exist because Antarctica is international land, this throws the ship into confusion, because, they didn't get the orders from the ULF/ELF antennae in Nebraska.  They turn on the TV (on an SSBN at battle stations, why would they have a TV that works?) and see America hasn't been attacked, and when they try to verify the orders, the captain is relieved, then when the XO refuses to obey, the ship is fired on. 

Can you see the problem here?  Another conspiracy show, where shadowy elements of the United States government try to dupe the poor soldier into committing acts of atrocity.  Gee isn't this the plot of just about every Hollywood movie involving the military?  The fact that there are numerous females on board (which hasn't even happened fully yet) and the fact that there are a ton of stereotypes in the characters was a dead give away that whoever wrote this doesn't know thing one about the military.  

at some point they take over a small tropical island with a NATO tracking station in the Pacific (completely ignoring that NATO means North ATLANTIC Treaty Organization) they take over the island with their 150 men and women, and apparently a freaking arsenal, which doesn't exist on an Ohio class, and they proceed to try to contact both family and their chain of command to find out what the hell happened.  When two bombers are sent to apparently destroy the island or the boat, they launch an Trident ballistic missile towards Washington. 

What the fuck!  The fact that no one on the show seems to know about Permissive Action Locks, which prevent the unauthorized launching of any missiles.  It will literally explode a missile in the tubes if you try.  The thought that an American captain in the United States Navy would willingly fire a ballistic missile, is so far out of the realm of possibility it truly staggers the imagination.  

Who the hell would write this show, knows nothing about the Navy, the use of force, or the military in general.  No Officer or NCO in charge of nuclear weapons.  They also have no idea the kind of procedures and drills that are run involving the release of nuclear weapons.  They can only be authorized by the President, and there are about a million types of safety measures to ensure that no one, rouge or otherwise can launch nukes without the consent of literally everyone in the chain of command from the President on down. 

Furthermore, the very subject of the show is an entire US ship committing mutiny, and/or treason.  Such a thing is just plain insulting, and there would have to be some very wrong things with that boat.  Its insulting to tell the truth.  I was never in the Navy, nor on submarines but my dad was and I know enough to know that just about everything that was in the show was just plain wrong.  Sadly the civilians who see the show won't know that. 

This is one of the many instances of the military civilian divide, which is becoming ever more painfully obvious.  I wish I could find the words that could tell you how angry I was made by this show.  That Hollywood thinks so lightly of our commitments is just plain troubling.  From the wife begging the XO to go AWOL, to the Chief willfully challenging the XO, there are a ton of examples that just churn my stomach.  Don't watch it.  This kind of shit should not be rewarded.  

Friday, September 21, 2012

Think Long and Hard About This

One simple question: What kind of military do we want?  Before you give a blithe answer, think about what kind of enemy we're going to fight.  Are we going to be fighting insurgent enemies or large states?  Does our military have the ability or even right to enter the political theater?  Does our Army, Air Force, Navy or Marine Corps need to change, and if so in what direction?  Are we going to keep getting the best equipment, which will keep getting more and more expensive, or are we going to keep using the same stuff we have?  How will our troops be trained, and what methodology will they be trained in? 

Think back to the Surge.  Do you remember when the New York Times reported on General Petraus' decision to pay former Sunni insurgents to guard roads?  The Sons of Iraq, was clever, and a perfect example of COIN (Counter Insurgency) methodology in practice.  It was also a political decision, that no civilian authorized.  Think about that for one second.  We're all happy it worked, and some were so happy they wanted him to run for president (I don't think he will, but he'd be a shoe in if he ever did), but think about that giant invisible line between making policy and enforcing it.  Making policy is something a military does not do, unless it has plans on running the country.  Was the action right or wrong?  Remember no civilian approved or even knew about it until it hit the news. 

Service members know that politicians can and more importantly will intervene in the working of their lives, their missions etc.  The President has the authority to reach down to the lowest private and give direct orders regardless of the sensibility it might make, the Private is legally, ethically, and duty bound to follow those order as long as they are legal.  The military can advise, can offer options, but it can not dictate.  On the whole the military is given free reign to accomplish the general outline of the missions given, but even Petraus himself acknowledges that a textbook COIN operation is just as much about a political victory as it is a military one, so the question arises, how much latitude, politically speaking will the military have?

We also have to face the question of what enemy do we see ourselves fighting?  Here's another question for you, the Carrier Battle Group, awesome tool of destruction, great big chess piece on the open ocean. . . Who else has one?  The answer is really no one.  On one has a Carrier Battle Group as we understand it.  They have frigates, destroyers, cruisers submarines and even light carriers, but nothing even comes close to the sheer jaw dropping power of a Nimitz class aircraft carrier.  We have 11 Carrier Battle Groups.  They're not cheap.  They're not easy to maintain, and they're expensive as hell to own to say nothing of actually using them.  So who are we fighting that we can't bomb back into the stone age with one airstrike?  We have what is called a Blue Water navy.  In the open ocean, no navy in the world can challenge the might of the USN.  The littoral regions, or the regions close to shore are another matter.  Ultra quiet diesels and land defenses mean the Navy tends not to want to risk a half billion dollar Arleigh Burke class destroyer.  If we're going to have to fight our way ashore, this is where the threat will be greatest and where the Navy shudders at the losses it might receive.

The Air Force also has to be defined.  It does three main things, Air Mobility Command, Close Air Support, and Strategic Bombing.  If you look at the first two, then they work at the behest of the ground combat services.  Even air superiority could fall into the close air support role.  Strategic Bombing, is still a relatively new concept in the annals of warfare.  It really began in WWI with the zeppelin raids on London and Paris.  You really saw it take effect in the Blitz of London, in WWII and the retaliation by the allies in 43 onward.  The idea is pretty simple.  If you bomb everything of use and value you can literally win the war through air power.  So here's a question.  When has that ever worked?  The only example that can be given is Kosovo, and there, we're not entirely sure if it was the bombing or the ground invasion that was spinning up that finally stopped Milosevic.  So if the efficacy of strategic bombing is not proven then what does the Air Force do?  This is a rather uncomfortable question to ask the AF brass because they fear that they might cease to be a service.      The Marines, too fear some questions.  What do they do, that the Army can't do with the proper training?  To be sure both the Air Force and the Marine Corps are too much a part of our national consciousness to ever really fade into the night.

But there are a lot of really uncomfortable questions, that are not being asked in the halls of congress, and in the White House.  No one is clear on what we want, and where we plan on going, and thus we are not clear what will happen in the future.  We've been making due with a military that has been adrift since the end of the cold war, and now that the looming sequestration hangs over everyone's heads, we are left with the question: What now?  We are still the world's 911.  Do we still want that role?  If we don't have that role who would?  In a global economy, can we afford not to be the ones called when the world goes to hell in a hand basket?  Think long and hard about where you want to go before you think about even attempting to answer any of these questions.   

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Here's a thought

So we're 16,000,000,000,000 +/- a few billion in debt (more on the plus side).  Now to put that in perspective you could literally buy out pretty much all of the fortune 500 companies outright, if you were given that kind of cash.  I kind of expect there to be something really cool that we've bought with all that, but sadly there's nothing that you can take to the pawn shop, so that's all useless debt.  Pretty awesome right?

Before you get on about talking about how the War on Terror is the primary cause, seeing as about $5T of that was in the last three years and the totality of the War on Terror (to include both major fronts in Iraq and Afghanistan) is $1T, and that was over 11 years. . . you don't really have a leg to stand on.  Also before you wet your pants about all the things you can do with the cash ceasing these operations will free up. . . it was all borrowed money so there is not one single penny that will be freed up by leaving Afghanistan.  On top of that even if the DoD were to cease to exist tomorrow (bad idea but not if you're smoking weed in San Fransisco) that would still leave us with about a half Trillion dollar deficit. 

So where is the problem.  Well the problem is entirely in entitlements.  Social Security Medicare, Medicaid, all that jazz.  Now to be totally clear I'm not saying that their aims were a bad thing, but with the increase in life expectancy, and the population retiring and the decrease of the economy the numbers mean simply put that we can't afford to keep the ridiculously lofty promises politicians delivered us.  We're going to have to do something and relatively quickly, because within a decade, or less we will be roughly in the same position as Greece is now, and you better believe that there will be not one country on Earth that can bail us out.

Now before you jump out a window, or decided to OD on your Xanax, the fact that no one is coming to save us is actually a good thing.  It will do two things, namely 1). motivate us to get it right and get it right the first time, and 2). motivate us to ensure that it's not just a patch job, but really sustainable.   Here's the bad news, despite the fact that politicians do indeed agree that something must be done and quick, they are still playing a lot of the business as usual games in Washington.  Sadly many of the States are not helping matters as they are spending like drunken sailors on their first liberty with a shiny new credit card.  Too many of the States, and Municipalities *California* *Harrisburg* whether admitting it or not are not actually getting serious about reducing their budget, and are still in a lot of ways looking for someone to bail them out. 

There are a lot of so called Sacred Cows, that we're going to have to use out metaphorical Ten Commandments of Economic theory to destroy, sadly I don't see too many Charlton Heston's running around, but never say never. 

So here's my thought.  How about we all fire everyone in Washington.  I mean fire every single Representative that is nothing more than a useless windbag (Maxine Waters) a tax cheat (Charlie Rangle) or any semblance of corrupted, or speaks in any way like a politician.  How about we do a write in campaign for Engineers, former Service Members, Nurses, Doctors, Bankers, Farmers, Football coaches.  Hell you think Michael Jordan would make a good Representative, write him into the ballot.  The idea is that for just one, just one congress, there is not a single Representative there who actually ran for or sought office. 

Two years later we can go back to the same old faces, but I would like to see two years of people who really don't have an axe to grind, getting together and talking things out in such a way that no one has had a hand in their campaign.  Their staffers can be fresh out of college, and just as an added bonus we can actually swap parties on them, having Democrats working for Republicans, and vice versa.  Sure nothing might get done, but then, that might actually be a good thing.  Imagine a house wife looking at our federal budget and saying "golly, I don't think Bake sales are going to cover this". 

Of course this is a pipe dream, but really this is one of those pipe dreams that goes back to We the People.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Thoughts on 9/11

What did we, as a nation, learn on September 11th?  There are so many lessons that we can take away from that simple question, that it would take whole essays to explain.  Each person that witnessed that day, will need to find their own answers, and in the end it will always be viewed as a turning point in the affairs of America.  For myself, I decided to become a Medic, if not in words, I decided I would do my best to emulate the firefighters that showed so much bravery that day.  Selflessly, futilely rushing to their doom, so others may live.

I can tell you where I was.  I was in the master bedroom, sitting next to my mother, who was silently crying.  Like many listless teenagers with nothing to do I had stayed up all night so I was up when it happened, I don't remember a hint of tiredness, despite the fact that when this happened I would have typically, gone to sleep, being a bit of a night owl.  But on 9/11 I like my mother was glued to CNN and later Fox News for over 12 hours.  I remember seeing the North Tower on fire and hearing "Small plane, possibly a Cessna" had hit it.  My thought was no way that was a Cessna. and I remembered thinking that the pilot must've been drunk, because it was clear, there's no way they could have missed the big towers. 

I remained confidant that the fire would be put out eventually people would be dead, naturally, but there would be survivors, and things would be brought back under control in short order.  I have no lack of confidence that the building would stand, and that despite this tragic occurrence all would be well. 

Then I saw United 175.  I don't remember if I said anything, but as soon as I saw the plane on screen it was absolutely, painfully clear what was going to happen.  I remember thinking no, no, no, NO. and then the plane almost gracefully was obscured by the tower. . . and then the fireball.  In that one moment, I realized this was something that no one had ever seen before.  A fully loaded passenger plane barreling into a building like a cruse missile, who, honestly would have thought such a thing would, or more importantly could happen.

I do not want to talk about seeing the jumpers, but lets face it, that is perhaps some of the cruelest part of the whole day, watching helplessly as person after person fell to their doom.  You could see a few had tried to climb down to a floor below, and simply lost their hand holds.  Others, willingly took the leap, falling far away from the building.  I will never forget the image of two people holding hands as they fell.  Who were they?  Two strangers, or close friends?  They held onto each other all 90 odd floors down, and one tends to hope that somehow that closeness gave them some strength in the end.  Worse, was the question, what sort of Hell were they trying to escape?

The hits just came one after another after that.  6 planes were hijacked (really only 4), some were headed towards the Sears Tower, some were headed to the Space Needle.  It was utter confusion.   Then the Pentagon was reported to be on fire.  Another flight (later identified to be United Airlines flight 93) was said to be heading up the Potomac to hit the White House.  All was utter confusion.  What could possibly happen next?

And then the South Tower fell.  In retrospect you kind of knew  that it would collapse, and as it bent to the side you knew this was it, but the twin towers!  They weren't supposed to fall!  It wasn't until much later that it was explained how many people in the triage center in the lobby, had just simply ceased to exist.  When the North Tower finally almost hesitantly began to collapse, you kind of knew it was coming, that it was really inevitable at this point.  The cloud as it fell was almost beautiful in a terrible sort of way. 

We are given a number of images.  We are given a number of conflicting emotions.  I know I might never have joined the Army if not for 9/11.  I know that a lot of the path my life would have taken would not have happened.  I know that I will not be the same for the rest of my life, and though I do wish that 9/11 hadn't happened, I know that it is an event you just can't take back.  It will be woven into the tapestry of our history, and it will not be forgotten even after all that were alive that day have long faded to dust.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

On Suicides

It is estimated that there are 18 OIF/OEF Veterans killing themselves every day.  I could cite pointless statistics, like the fact that white males are more likely to kill themselves, And the preferred method is a gun, or that females tend to use pills. . . We all know these statistics.  Citing them would at this point be utterly useless.  I have no doubt that some S-3 somewhere has power pointed you to death with these statistics.  So I’m going to tell you a tale.  Mine, bare with me, I’m about to tell you about the time I almost killed myself, then I’m going to tell you how we, the United States men and women at arms are going to deal with this like the family we are. 

North Kansas, somewhere.  I was sitting in my newly purchased ‘07 Mustang, listening to the engine idle.  Linkin Park was playing, somehow it seemed to speak to how I was feeling inside.  It was a Wednesday and despite my strict rules for myself I had had a few beers.  As I sat on the side of the road at oh-dark-thirty, listening to the music and trying not to think about my bed.  I hadn’t slept in a day in a half and I just couldn’t go back to my room. 

I would dream of the soldier who had his face blown off, his buddy shaking his limp shoulder.

“No, Oh God, NO!” tears streaming down his face. 

The face was gone from the eyebrows down to the adamsapple.  His hamburger face staring at me accusing me of my total inability to do anything. 

I would dream of the Soldier that had his jaw shattered, his wet snoring respirations spraying blood all over me.  The gunner over my shoulder talking as much as he could to his friend, 
“Hang on Bo, you can make it”

But I knew he wouldn’t.  I knew he was going to die.  A million thoughts of putting a Combie tube in or maybe a trach.  I should have controlled the airway better.  Maybe manage the bleeding, I should have done something more than hold him.

I would dream of the Iraqis torn apart by an Apache, I felt no sympathy for them, and that if anything bothered me more than the fact they were wounded. 
I would dream of my friend burning to death.  Screaming for help. 

Then I would dream of that woman I loved, the blonde who had made mistakes in life, but turned to me, and wanted a future.  Then it had all fallen apart, and I remembered how she was now pregnant with another man’s child.  Any hope I might have once felt lost.  I had wanted nothing more than to make up for all the lost time, and now, all the little fantasies, and happy memories that sustained me in Iraq were being twisted and warped as I imagined those same memories, being forced to watch a Grade A douche bag with my woman. 

I was alone.  No one to talk to.  You think I’m going to tell my parents of the dark things I saw, and the twisted shit that was going through my mind?  No.  There was no escape from this.  Everything that I had counted on was gone, there was nothing to turn to.  Even the Army which had been my home, and family, was now doing its best to get rid of me. 

What the fuck?

All these thoughts went through my mind, and the thought of facing that empty room, and that empty bed was just too much to bare.  As I sat there listening to the engine rev, I realized I could just. . . End it.  I didn’t need this shit anymore, I didn’t have anything waiting for me, why the hell not? 

“I don‘t want to be the one the battles always chose,
cuz inside I realize I‘m the one confused,
I don‘t know what‘s worth fighting for
Or why I have to scream. . .”  blared the radio

I hit the pedal to the metal.  The engine roared to life.  Quickly I was going 30, shift to second, my heart’s starting to beat faster, this is it, 45, Shift again.  These Kansas back roads aren’t meant for this kind of speed. 60, I feel a little jolt, it sends the car a little off into another lane. 70, time for 5th gear.  Now I feel truly alive.  90.  I can barely keep control of my car.  Now, for the first time in months I feel alive.  How odd at the end I should feel this way. 

It’ll only take a little bump, and that’ll be it.  I undo my seat belt.  I know if I get ejected at this speed, I’ll break my neck at least C4, maybe I’ll be lucky and it’ll be C1 or 2, and I’ll die instantly.  But at least with C4 I’ll not linger long.  Even if I don’t get ejected closed head trauma will probably kill me.  Perfect.  No one is around, so I won’t hurt anyone, and more importantly no one will arrive on scene to render aide in time. 

110.  This is it.  These back roads were never meant to be traveled this fast.  I prepare to cut the wheel into this big tree in my headlights.  30 seconds.  One last mission.  One last fight. 

Then my phone rings. 

“FUCK!!!” I scream, I’m too rooted in Army culture to ignore my phone.  I hit the brakes, and clutch and come to a skidding halt.  My heart pounding.  The tree at the T intersection I was going to ram was only 200 meters in front of me.  Was that branch pointing at me like a finger? 

I answered my phone, it was one of my drinking buddies.  He had just broken up with his girlfriend (again) and wanted to talk to someone. 

Just like that, that moment passed.  I was that close.  200 meters, from being just another statistic.  I still had the nightmares, I still wanted nothing to do with the empty room in the barracks, but one thing had changed from just a few seconds before, I realized someone still needed me.  The woman who left, well that heartache actually still hurts.  She has a kid now and was almost married a few times, but seems quite happy.  There would be two other women that I would love just as much, and they in turn would leave me even more confused and hurt.  But I know I’m needed, so as much as it might hurt, and seem hopeless sometimes I know I just can’t bow out without fighting tooth and nail on the way down.   

I know the pain, and I have its measure.  I will never again let it overwhelm me as it did in Kansas.  Never again will I even entertain the thought of suicide.  I passed through the eye of the needle as it were, and I have come out stronger and wiser for it.  Sadly this is a knowledge you only really get after surviving or coming close to committing suicide.  Its not an understanding I recommend you seek out.     

Suicides are no laughing matter.  June was the worst month for the Army since 2009, and from all graphics July was worse.  Perhaps worst of all, no one is really tracking what is happening to those that have gotten out.  The 18 suicides a day is anecdotal more than actual numbers being tracked.  The simple fact is that we don’t know.  We have no idea how many soldiers are killing themselves.

I know at least one soldier who did.  The last time I talked to him he was so excited by the birth of his daughter, he was so in love with his fiancĂ©, I thought he had made it.  He had everything I did not, and I thought that was enough. At some point after the birth of his daughter he started having nightmares.  At some point after that he started looking at some of the old war photos he had on his computer, and began to convince himself of things that hadn’t really happened.  It all lead to a head when he finally took some 550 cord, and with his fiancĂ© on the way home from a girls night out hung himself.  There she found him, dangling, dead, with their child screaming nearby. 

When I found out I felt, and to some degree still feel that I had failed a battle buddy.  Somehow I should have stayed in touch.  Shouldn’t have let my own life get in the way.  We will all feel like that after something like that happens to us.  Could I or anyone else have saved him?  Perhaps.  Its not entirely clear.  What is clear is that he left a huge hole in a lot of lives when he killed himself.    

Big Army will have its suicide stand downs, and there will be a lot of slides on powerpoint, but the truth is, there is no one solution.  OIF/OEF could be bad, but they hardly compare to Normandy, the Hurtgen, The Bulge, Anzio, Pelilu, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Chosin, Heartbreak ridge, Porkchop Hill, Ia Drang, the Au Shau Valley, Dak To, Khe Sahn, Hue etc. . . .There have been tough battles before, there will, continue to be, and in the future some day.  War will not go away.  We know this.  It is not the battles themselves that are causing the suicides.  It is a lack of attention by the battle buddy, the first line supervisor, and the rest of the chain of command and responsibility. 

It is that E-4 or E-5 who is always in that Troop’s (Sailor, Airman, Marine, or Coastie) face.  He or she is the first person that is going to notice something.  He or she has to set the example, and if there’s a troop that just can’t take it anymore, they have to be the first one to speak up on that troop’s behalf.  Leaders have just two primary duties in the modern military.  1). Accomplish the mission, and 2). Take care of your troops.  We are failing on #2. 

Soldeir, Sailor, Airmen or Marine, I'm telling you right now you are not alone.  There are people out there that will help you, and you are needed, if for nothing more than to give people the wisdom you might've gleaned from your time in.  If there were any words I could tell you that would stop you and pull you back from the brink I would.  I've been there.  It's a dark and terrible place, but you can only go up from there.  Trust me.  If you need help, we, the Veteran, and milblog community are here.  We will help you.  No one gets left behind.  That is our creed, our code, and it does not stop when you take off the uniform.  There is help.  There is hope.  Just hold on, and we will be there for you, but you've got to tell us you're hurting.  

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Job is not a Charity

Jobs jobs jobs.  That seems to be all anyone is talking about in Washington.  Probably because most of their jobs are on the line, but that's just the cynic in me talking.  Lets face it if jobs were to somehow sprinkle down from the heavens (Washington) I'm sure spending trillions of dollars on whatever we've spent all that money on seemed like a good idea at the time, but the plain truth is jobs don't just magically appear.

You know, or should know that sitting on your ass and saying "gimmie a job" is going to work about as well as a sandpaper condom.  We should all know from dealing with children "gimmie" only works so long as someone puts up with it.  You can firmly plant your but and throw a tantrum, but really it will do you no good if the adults are not going to put up with it. 

Every one should be well aware that it is not the Government that ever makes jobs enough for economic prosperity.  It is the farmer, the small business owner, or just the guy in the basement with a good idea.  Sometimes they'll get it right, and we have many many companies like Bain Capitol, Apple, IBM, Microsoft, Blackhawk, Ranger Up, all are companies that had really small and humble beginnings, and all have grown to be truly massive in scope and scale compared to where they started. 

Along the way companies might actually spawn other companies.  Prosperity is entirely dependent on ideas, and those with the moxy and know how to get the job done regardless of the obstacles.  When talking about jobs we can not escape the simple fact that we can't "create" as much as we need because we as a nation have stopped rewarding as a society the "go-getter" and have instead the "good enough for gub'ment work" attitude.  People show up to work and as long as they have a base understanding of the standards required of their job, will do the bare minimum. 

These employees are a drag on companies large and small, but are less noticeable when they are in large companies, say Cosco or Sam's Club, because there are so many other people to pick up the slack.  In a small company they are like an anchor thrown out of a boat.  The smaller the company, the more high speed the other employees are, the more the noticeable the drag is.  Sadly even addressing a deficiency in motivation opens up employers to all manner of pointless lawsuits.  Did you know it's actually considered harassment in some states to tell an employee to try to be more cheerful when greeting a customer.  Is it any wonder the art of customer service is deader than dog s**t?

You do not have a "Right" to a job.  If you walk into an employer's office and say "you owe me a job" they'll laugh before they call security to escort you out.  So, why do we act like that when talking about what Washington is going to "do" for us?  If we are honest we will have to admit that Washington and its current sense of perpetual entitlement, is merely reflective of the electorate.  We feel that we're somehow owed everything.  The one lesson the Army taught me (the hard way) is that the world really is based on merit.  Doing a good job even when people are not looking may, believe it or not will get noticed.  You reputation is something you simply can not buy, and it will always proceed you like a bow wave of a ship. 

We need to stop treating Jobs, good, bad, or ugly, as some form of social charity.  They're not, that's what churches are for.  Every day on a job you are there to earn  your wage an potentially advancement.  You are there to earn money not only for yourself, but also for your company.  If your company does well, you by extension do well.  It is time to stop asking with you hand out for a job.  Here's an idea, if you can't find a job, get a few of your closest friends together and come up with an idea, put up some capitol and make jobs.  Stop asking your leaders or others what they're  going to do about it, what are you  going to do about it? 

"Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."

-President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
 Inaugural Address
 January 20th, 1961