Battle on the Hill

We all have been listening to the news the last several weeks and how Congress is battling over how to reduce the budget. In the speech that President Obama gave on July the 25th that this had gone on some 30 times since the days of President Reagan and how those that had the money made certain concessions to get this country back on track.

The one thing he didn’t mention was all the concessions that the little man like you and me made. At that moment in time I was employed by Armco Steel Corporation. I had basically hired on straight out of high school and expected to work here for the rest of my live. But that was one thing that didn’t happen.

According to President Obama, Reagan had asked the big boys of industry and finance to make the concessions. It wasn’t the corporate chiefs giving back it was all of the employees that were unionized. I remember being a part of the United Steelworkers Union and several of the final union meetings that I had attended prior to being laid off and I get a laugh at the people today who are whining about not being able to find a job. Back then the maximum that you could draw on unemployment was $250 a week with the average guy drawing approximately $125 a week. I happened to be lucky having made an average $28 an hour back then plus full medical benefits, so when I was laid off I managed to draw $198 a week for six months then we either when on federal extensions which took us to approximately a year and a half of payments then we were on our own and back then you weren’t allowed to draw food stamps like you can now.

However that’s not the thing that bothers me, the thing that got me was the way the people are whining about not being able to find a job. I have a friend who works in the accounting field, the sad thing is, she doesn’t have a degree and she cries when can’t find a job in that field. The thing I laugh about is that before she got laid off from a job that paid about $18 an hour with partial benefits and forced to unemployment she wouldn’t consider any other field. That’s what gets me back when I got laid off in 1983 I was willing to work any job that I could get and every company I applied to looked at the fact that I made $28 an hour when the average wage was a little over $6 an hour Unless you were in a job that required certain skills like plumbing, electrical work or mechanic. The only reason I made that much was because the job I worked at was hazardous. And the last two years when Reagan asked the corporations to give in on some of the tax breaks they were give; it wasn’t them giving back, it was people like me who worked union jobs. We had a contract that gave us a $.10 a month cost of living increase and an over the board $ 2.50 per year raise until 1986 when the next national contract would be negotiated. Like I mentioned it wasn’t the corporate officials that made the concessions, it was the working class. At the time my taxes were based upon a single household and I made plenty of overtime while there. But I wasn’t in that high dollar bracket like the CEO’s that make $200K and better a year and have the advantages of all the tax breaks. Approximately 60% of my income went to taxes and back then they didn’t take out Medicare tax and based upon what I got back as a tax refund was mere chicken scratch. Those pay increases were put on hold and we were asked to pay a $1000 deductible on our health insurance. And now these A-holes that are supposed to represent the little people are say that it will be those little people that have to suffer. They want to accomplish this by cutting entitlements, limiting what can be gotten on Medicare. It’s not that we are asking for the new drugs on the market, it’s that the FDA finally says that this drug is hazardous and when it’s about to be put at a place where it can be made in a generic formulation it’s taken off the market and another drug put in its place. Or the government (Social Security) says that you can only make so much and the disability funds get cut. When I applied back in 2002 I was denied for four years. The entire time they kept telling me that I wasn’t able to work do to my injury and when I finally was approved that I didn’t qualify for back pay and prior to this time all these so called injury attorneys wouldn’t take my case seeing that from the time that I was initially laid off I had to work temporary positions and with the majority of these firms that contract the work out don’t have significant accident insurance (workmen’s compensation). The way the contract was drawn up upon initial hire stated that the companies that we would be assigned to were not responsible in case of accident or injury. And the period of time that I had to wait after I was injured to get approved cost me seeing with anything associated with the government it’s a wait and see thing because it seems as if no one can agree upon anything and if it’s not benefiting that congressman’s’ particular district then it won’t be allow to benefit anyone else. And by the way the talk is going now, those people at the bottom will again suffer by having to make the brunt of the concessions by lose of benefits that have taken so long to obtain. As they speak it is those of us who receive the entitlements that will be out not those who make the dollar (like our Congressional constituents). Look at how much we would save if they had to give back a minimum of 10% of their current salaries and to make the pay for all those little perks they receive. And just what if we made them do everything by email and cut the paper trail. Seeing each of them get printouts of the congressional daily’s even though they may not be on that particular panel. The money that could be saved in printing costs alone. And then if they would cut all the wasted hot air arguing and not getting anywhere, look what we would save on the energy bill used to cool the halls of congress. The thing that they don’t look at is the generalized waste, that being in time wasted arguing and the materials used so that each have a record of what was said. As a student when we have class discussions we do it by internet and the material is archived for future use taking up only a pinhead of space compared to the energy, time and resources required using the traditional method of storage. Look at the space our government maintains for storage itself. Some of these properties could be converted to house the homeless or be used as training facilities for the disabled with the aid of outside partnerships. And it’s those who contribute in these partnerships that should get the tax breaks not the CEO’s of big business. Because the only contributions that if seen them make in the past ten years is pocketing profits and as the company falters allowing the tax payers to bail them out like we did in ’09 when government came to the rescue of the banks and auto industries . I don’t really see them creating any new jobs to allow for our tax base to rebound to what it once was before the doors were shut and the jobs sent overseas. Yet these businesses still get the breaks and the little man made to suffer.

If the American people would stand up and kick some butt, maybe we would regain the strength and prosperity that we were once noted for. But as long as we sit back and let government dictate what we will and won’t do we will continue to be in the position that we are. And you know as well as I do that the boys on the hill will get their pay but those of us who are disabled will be forced to do without if they don’t pass the extension. So wouldn’t it be nice if they were to take the hit seeing they have money saved where us little guys could continue to exist. We know that God will provide even though our government can’t or won’t. So may God Bless all and may all find a means to prosper during these hard and chaotic times?