December 1, 2010

loosing faith

I'm not real knowledgeable about politics. I don't fully understand the ins-and-outs of public policy, etc. But, I do know when something upsets me. And, yes, I admit that my boyfriend is a government employee (I try not to let that bias me). I also admit that I'm taking a pretty black-and-white look at these things, when I know the whole issue is pretty gray.

Yesterday's local newspaper (Minneapolis Star Tribune) had an article about a two year pay freeze for federal employees to help decrease the federal deficit. Today's newspaper has an article about paying out 1.3 BILLION dollars to black farmers.

I've got a couple of issues here.

First off, the farmers article actually says "black farmers" - now, I read the headline and the beginning of the article wondering if there was a special kind of farmer that was somehow "black". Later on in the article, I discovered it was talking about African American farmers. I guess our PC-police were axed. I don't really care if you call me a white person, or an Anglo American, or just a person... let's just make up our minds and stick with something.

That being said, I'll start with my feelings on the two year pay freeze. The article isn't very clear about who qualifies as a "federal" employee, I imagine police officers and other county/city/state employees qualify. So, let's hamper our public service people by refusing to give them raises. Because their jobs aren't thankless already. Oh, and they have NO impact on the well being of our communities (sense the sarcasm there?). By the way, military is not included in the pay freeze, nor is postal workers or congress (and I'm ok with that part).

So, Obama proposes that we freeze salarys for federal employees, because that will slash $5 billion from the $14 trillion defecit, over the first two years. The biggest issue I have with this is that not allowing pay raises hamstrings the buying power of these (2 million) people, many of whom are middle-class. No buying = no growth in the economy. Mission of stimulating the economy, which would in turn lower our national debt, not accomplished.

I believe people should be paid based on their merits, what they bring to the table. I am not against longevity playing a role in compensation, but it should not be the only thing considered. Getting a raise is a very motivating factor for people to work hard at their job. Everyone has dreams and aspirations, and it takes money to accomplish those things.

One day after this announcement to freeze federal salaries to slash the deficit, an article is printed that shows a plan that would cost the US government $1.2 billion dollars. At first blush, this sounds pretty counter-productive to me. And, after reading the article, I still feel it's pretty counter-productive. The article, to be fair, does not lay out specific wrongs committed, or really give any details regarding how these 94,000 claims came to be. The article focuses more on how Michelle Bachman (Congresswoman, MN) strongly disagrees with this settlement plan. She feels that the claims are unfounded and a scam. In my opinion, the article doesn't do anything to refute Bachman's claims, but maybe that's the biased spin of the newspaper, I don't know.

A few specific things in this article infuriate me.
1. There is a National Black Farmers Association - I thought we were an equal rights country. Why do the African American people have their own farmers association? Why are African Americans singled out, are they different than Caucasian, Asian, Hispanic, or Mung farmers?
2. A quote from John Boyd, president of the National Black Farmers Association "If you look at it historically, every black person in this country is probably one or two generations from somebody's farm," - ok, so this is about slavery and the wrong-doings of generations past? Well, people, what is it? Are you upset about how your ancestors were unfairly treated? I'm sorry that slavery happened, but I had nothing to do with it. Also, not EVERY black person in this country is 1-2 generations removed from working on SOMEBODY'S farm.
3. from the article: "In addition to the settlement with the black farmers, another $3.4 billion would go to American Indians who have battled in court for nearly 15 years over claims they were cheated out of royalties overseen by the Interior Department for resources such as oil, gas and timber." - so this settlement is costing our country $4.6 billion. I don't know all of the background here, so I cannot say whether or not the African American farmers or American Indians were wronged. If they were, then a fair compensation should be determined.
What I do know is that the American Indian's have their own sovereign nations here in Minnesota on their reservations, where they live by their own rules, where they host their casinos and make quite a bit of money off of gambling. At what point do we stop repaying the debt of our ancestors? I'm not trying to be cold-hearted. I just feel like on one hand our government is freezing incomes to cut debt, then turning around and paying out billions of dollars for wrong doings that 1. are not entirely proven, at least not in the article, and 2. happened decades ago.

Between these two articles, our education system, and the new government health plan I'm really starting to loose my faith in the ol' U. S. of A. I do not like the path we are headed down. I do not agree with so many things that are happening. I kinda want to move away.

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