Veterans Day 2013

The better photo ops during the shutdown involved patriotic old men in their 80s and 90s unable to get to war memorials.

Reading this somewhat self-serving history of the Department of Labor during and after World War II: “When the war ended, attention shifted to the needs of those returning from war and their families. The Serviceman’s Readjustment Act of June 22, 1944—widely known as the G.I. Bill—provided a weekly unemployment allowance, as well as counseling, placement services, education and job training to nearly 10 million veterans between 1944 and 1949.” Taking care of that generation was important to the country.

At the end or near end, of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we see that
most Americans now believe those conflicts were mistakes. I’m sure battle fatigue was a major factor in people’s opposition to an American incursion into Syria. Yet this is not a reflection of what people felt about soldiers’ bravery, from all reports.

The Veterans Affairs Department is drowning under mountains of paperwork representing services not rendered. During the government shutdown, the VA secretary said that “more than 5 million veterans, as well as some active-duty service members, would not have received “crucial benefits after Nov. 1 if the event had continued much longer. As it was, the shutdown slowed the process of paying those vets.

The better photo ops during the shutdown involved patriotic old men in their 80s and 90s unable to get to war memorials. Yet, one could argue that veterans were hurt far more by the loss of benefits during the shutdown than by the symbolic lack of access to some shrines. Open memorials may matter, but money for essentials matters, too.

Facebook and the shutdown

If no one’s is talking about the shutdown in YOUR Facebook circle, maybe it’s because it’s SO toxic.

In the Ask Roger Anything tradition, New York Erratic recently wondered:

Why do you think almost no one is discussing the shutdown and debt on Facebook? Usually, when something even vaguely political happens (e.g. an election, a school shooting, the Supreme Court decided something that made it to the national news), people are posting like crazy. So why virtually nothing?

OK, two contradictory answers about the shutdown:

1) It is not MY experience on Facebook that people aren’t talking about the shutdown. I see stuff every single day.

Here’s a couple on my timeline, from the last 36 hours, none from me:
“I think it’s time to start a revolution, friends. It only takes one! Imagine if one percent of Americans marched on Washington DC and demanded a new government. We could change the world!”

“REMOVE THE RADICALS IN DC ASAP. Ruining this country.”

“Gov. Andrew Cuomo announces that the state will pay the roughly $61,000 a day to reopen the Statue of Liberty. On the one hand, it’s a nice thing to do (and it no doubt helps tourism), on the other, these little tweaks to take the sting out of the shutdown just take the heat off the House of Representatives. ‘Hey, the parks and monuments are open, so what’s the big deal with the shutdown, right? Maybe those tea party folks are right that we don’t need the gubmint.'”

Plus LOTS of links to articles about the causes of the shutdown, like this one. People I know on FB are ticked off that “the Republican shutdown has now cost American taxpayers more than $3.3 billion and continues to sap our economy every day the government’s doors are closed.” I mean the shutdown doesn’t even save money!

Also, several data users are pointing out alternative sources for information, now that some of the core tools are not currently available.

In other words, NYE, I haven’t sensed that no one on Facebook is talking about the shutdown.

And, BTW, I totally disagree with the person on your FB timeline who wrote: “I think the main reason is that the ‘shutdown’ is not directly messing up anybody’s day.” I know people who have been furloughed. I AM one of those people without some resources I’m used to. People who plan their vacations to a national park all year and find a padlock on the doors aren’t inconvenienced?

2) If, in fact, no one’s is talking about the shutdown in YOUR Facebook circle, maybe it’s because it’s SO toxic. A SCOTUS ruling is announced, an election happens, and though the events have consequences, often long-term, they may not be immediately apparent. Whereas every day, we are reminded of the range of services not being provided by our government: sick people not in clinical trials, accidents and disease outbreaks not investigated, real life-and-death stuff.

We’ve become aware at a level not previously known that our government isn’t working, or at least is not working for the citizenry. When things like that happen, some people yell and holler, but others just want to cry in dismay. It’s what I linked to yesterday about us giving up, which is what some of them want; a discouraged citizenry that has surrendered, leaving THEM even more in control.

3) Re: the debt limit: When individual people weren’t paying their mortgages four or five years ago, it was painted by some as personal irresponsibility, and terms such as “moral hazard” were thrown around. THOSE people – J’accuse!

But the debt ceiling is such an amorphous concept, it’s difficult to wrap one’s mind around it. Many people believe/hope/pray that it won’t come. We’ve been threatened with it before, and we expect that, because the political fallout has been so fierce, they’ll fix it, maybe as early as tomorrow.

But I also subscribe to the “I’m used to it” theory. Remember when the price of gas first broke the $3 barrier and there was great gnashing of teeth? Likewise, when it went over $4. So now, with gas prices generally down, but still, over $3 for a very long time, it’s just not the issue it was. We get used to the “new normal” and shrug.

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