Don’t Come To Work Tomorrow. You Are “Non-Essential”

As a result of the possible (probable?) government shutdown, I learned this morning that the various agencies, including the military, are reviewing their work force to determine who will be furloughed and who will continue to work.  “Essential” workers will continue to work and “non-essential” workers will be furloughed.  What?  Non-essential employees?  How do you say “bloated government?”  Why do agencies have non-essential workers?  Who are these people and what does it do to their self esteem to be told “you don’t need to come to work tomorrow.  You are “non-essential”?  (What jobs do they have?  Non-essential in charge of filing staple guns?)  Imagine approaching your company CEO, your firm’s managing partner or the owner of the small business where you work and asking for approval to hire a non-essential employee for your department or office.  You explain the person is not necessary to the performance of the operations of the company or department and the non-essential will be provided with benefits and a salary in the tens of thousands of dollars.  Will you be rewarded for your clear thinking and societal concerns for the unemployed, or will you be asked to join the ranks of the non-essentials?

If  the government had to get along with only essential employees, how much lower might the cost of government be?  If we weren’t paying non-essential workers, what would the unemployment figures be?  Which is worse, higher unemployment or higher governmental costs?  ( I know, we have to pay unemployment benefits to the unemployed non-essential worker, etc. and we have their self esteem to worry about.  But, is an unemployment check harder on self esteem than working in a non-essential job?)  If a non-essential were not hired by the government would he or she figure out how to become an employed essential in the private sector?  Would lower taxes be derived from not paying non-essential persons?  Would tax savings result in more consumer spending, which would create more essential jobs in the private sector?  Would some of the out of work non-essentials use their ingenuity and innovate new products and services creating more essential jobs?  These Econ 101 arguments simplify the continual debate among economists.  But, not unlike the argument against deficit spending which says that the government should balance its budget and quit (at least reduce) deficit spending as we have to do in our homes and private businesses, sometimes simplified versions of the economic dilemma makes good common sense.

Maybe, like sequestering turned out to be not such a terrible thing, shutting down the government for awhile may not be so terrible either.  After all, the essential jobs will continue to be performed and, apparently, only the non-essential frills will be postponed.


On Tuesday I witnessed the bravest, hardest, kindest and most loving of decisions be made.  I spent the day with my friend at the local hospital where his wife of 48 years had been admitted in the morning and was with him in the afternoon when he told the doctor to take her off the machines that were keeping her (technically) alive.  She survived only a few minutes afterwards. God bless them both.



Sun Herald (MelbourneAustralia)

June 13, 20129:00 AM 

The United States plans to buy 21 Mi-17 helicopters for the Afghan military from Russia’s Rosoboronexport by 2016. The contract totals $375 million by 2016, with an option to buy additional aircraft worth $550 million. 

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accused Russia of sending more attack helicopters to Syria and said Moscow was lying about its arms shipments.


Russian Helicopters toSyria A New Political Headache for Obama

U.S.News and World Report

June 12, 2012

The Pentagon has no plans to suspend or cancel purchases of helicopters for Afghanistan’s air force from the same Russian firm that is allegedly sending attack helicopters to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s loyalist military.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that U.S. officials have pressed their Russian counterparts to stop sending the attack helicopters, which human rights activists say aid in “crimes against humanity.”

The Pentagon, under a controversial program, for several years has been buying Mi-35 helicopters from Rosoboronexport, a Russian government-run arms manufacturer.


Aside from the cross purposes of the DoD and State Departments, one must ask: Are there no U.S.companies that can make helicopters for Afghanistan purposes?  A billion dollars that will be spent on some Russian arms dealer surely could be spent in the U.S. thereby putting some folks to work at some helicopter plant somewhere here (or at a minimum, keeping some folks working).  Isn’t this the same administration that complains about the corporations that have kept their dollars overseas where there are favorable tax benefits instead of spending it here to create jobs and help our economy? 

This would be the same administration that had the unbelievably stupid program of selling guns to the Mexican Drug Cartels.  Wonder where those guns were produced?    

You just can’t make this stuff up.

May You All Be As Fortunate As I (on wedded bliss)

Corinne and I just returned from dinner at a favorite restaurant where we celebrated our 48th wedding anniversary.  An amazing occurrence and yet another longevity landmark in the family history.  We agree that we do not know where the time went.  For me, sharing the time with someone you love and respect erases all consideration of time.  It could have been that we met just yesterday except for certain observable facts, such as having three children in their 40’s. 

I cleverly married a woman who is the smartest person I have ever known.  Not only is she smart, but she is kind and generous to a fault.  Oh, and did I mention that she is beautiful?   The combination of these things made those 48 years pretty easy for me. 

The real reasons we have stayed together for these years, though, are due to her.  Not just her brilliance or her beauty (though maybe those too)  but her tolerance, forgiveness and  sense of what is important.   I can recall waking on certain Sunday mornings ruing my actions of the previous night and asking her “what stupid things did I say or do last night”?  Her response was: “why do you think you are important enough that anyone cares what you said or did?”  And that ended the discussion, salved my need for self flagellation and she would not again raise the subject.  

Moreover, she was truly “the wind beneath my wings” as the song title goes.  But for her encouragement, I would likely not have received the degrees I have and I would not have had whatever modicum of success I had in my career.  She never held back when I found what I thought to be better job opportunity, even though it meant moving from one state to another.  She willingly put her studies on hold for a year when we concluded that we should move to start my own practice.  She then went on to get her law degree while rearing our three children to be the wonderful people they are and all while providing me with the support I needed to create a successful practice. 

We have been very, very fortunate and I particularly so.  Our relationship has grown and strengthened over the years.   She is my best friend.  My one true love.   I can only wish for all who are married and read this the same joy that the last 48 years have brought me.  


Brooks’ Article – My Take (a bit belatedly)

A few generations ago no self respecting U.S.citizen would expect the government to provide him or her much of anything.  Employment, health care, old age support were not considered a function of the government.  These were matters taken care of within the family, church or neighborhoods.  But slowly socialistic thinking has gained traction in the U.S., primarily within the academic community and among those who classify themselves as liberal thinkers.  Europeans accepted these philosophies earlier than has the U.S.populace.  As a result Europeans have a much more extensive “cradle to grave” involvement of their government than do we and they face a more serious economic crisis, at the moment, than do we. 

Increasingly, politicians  have accepted the socialistic lessons of the academicians.  As pointed out by Mr. Brooks, it is easy to persuade too many of us that our welfare is the responsibility of someone other than ourselves.  That “someone” should be the government, the politicians say, recognizing that promising more of these services is likely to curry favor among enough voters that their re-election to office is, if not insured, greatly enhanced. 

We went from pride in self sufficiency to “a chicken in every pot” to “a car in every garage” to “a house for everyone”.  No one asked and no one said how the payment for fulfilling these promises would be made.  Meanwhile the chickens, pots, garages, cars and houses are less available to the citizenry and the answer to how will we pay for what has been promised divides the country. 

Unfortunately, no discussion of the very divergent views of the social role of government can be held by politicians or their surrogates (or perhaps by any of us) without demagoguery – on both sides.   Discussions invariably devolve into arguments about enhancing the rich on the backs of the elderly, middle class and the poor versus government’s Orwellian control of our lives under the guise of  providing social programs or screaming matches about protecting the 1%  vs. the creation of “death panels.”  Can we not have a rational discussion about extending the age for social security eligibility for those decades away from being eligible, without scaring those currently relying on social security checks?  Can’t we have a rational discussion of health care responsibility without reverting to death panel scare tactics?  

My father was laid off from his job during the Great Depression. There was no unemployment insurance and his “severance pay” was merely a “pink slip.”  He went out the next day and sought work.  He took on “odd jobs” that allowed him to feed his family.  It never occurred to him that the government should bail him out or provide him with anything.  Dad had only a high school education but he insisted upon his children obtaining college educations.  We didn’t go to expensive colleges.  We went to the local college and we worked part time to help him pay our way through it.  There were no student loans.  We took more than four years to complete our studies because we worked. But we did complete them – and then more and had no debt to pay off.  After graduation  we took jobs that paid the most and if they were in our “chosen field” we were lucky (assuming we had a chosen filed).  If those jobs were not in our chosen filed we worked until we either found a job in our chosen field or found a different “chosen field” to pursue as a career.  

So, when politicians and pundits tell us that we can have it all if only we tax those who worked hard to make themselves successful; tax corporations a little more so that there is less for them to invest in their businesses or to distribute to their investors (who they also want to tax more) and when the “Occupy” crowd holds up signs that they want “good jobs in their chosen fields” and demand  the  redistribution of wealth because someone who worked hard makes more than someone who doesn’t want to work at all, I see a future such as Europeans now face.  And I dispair for my grandchildren.

Brooks’ message is right even if a bit obtusely put.  We have to correct our current desire for things for “free” and we have to stop educating each new generations that their every need and desire will be fulfilled by their government.   Whether this is what our forefathers understood or not I don’t know.  I learned that the checks and balances system was to keep the few from tyranny over the masses as the monarchists had done and from whom our independence had been gained.  That aside, Brooks’ article is just another sounding of the alarm that we are on a path of self destruction.  I wonder if enough folks are listening?

What say you Richard, Russell, UJ?

Encomium To Maggie

Maggie lived with us for almost twelve and a half years.  Mom took most of the care of Maggie.  Mom’s do.  Maggie would sit patiently at Mom’s desk in the kitchen waiting for her piece of toast at breakfast and to share Mom’s sandwich at lunch.  But when I was home ol’ Mag hung with me.  She had the patience (or a tin ear) to come into my practice room and listen to my very amateur saxophone practicing and never once complain about the squeaks and squawks.  At cocktail time she was pleased to get an ice cube or two from me while I made a drink and then enjoyed helping me eat my cheese and cracker hors d’oeuvres.   

Maggie was good looking and very gentle.  She was a reverse brindle Boxer dog and, though gentle, was big enough to give pause to anyone who didn’t know her gentleness.  Grandchildren could fall on her, poke her and yell at her and she just stood patiently.  But, I  don’t think it would have been wise for anyone to try to do harm to the kids or any other family member, for that matter.

Oh, she was some bother too.  As is the Boxer’s wont, she slobbered a lot.  That meant when we were ready to go out without her, an activity which she didn’t much understand – why would we go without her? – she would invariably slime us with her muzzle while pushing to keep us in.  Boxer drool on black slacks is unattractive and embarrassing.  Then, every so often (like hourly) she would shake her head and the drool would fly around.  Thus, cleaning up walls and windows was a constant job.  And, like all pets, she needed cared for, taken for walks and/or allowed to roam the backyard to “do her business” which we then had to clean up. 

Some older Boxer dogs have a flaw in their genes.  A degenerative condition in their nervous system occurs in their later years.  It works its way up their spine from the rear.  First their rear legs stop working and then they lose control of their bladders and bowels.  Maggie had the flaw.  She lost control of her left leg first.  Then her right leg started to drag a bit.  She became incontinent, not always, but more and more frequently.  I had to carry her outside as she couldn’t get up and down the steps without banging her rear legs on the landing and sidewalk.  Her left foot had started to bleed  from being dragged.  

So, Monday we made a decision.  We decided it was best for Maggie if we ended her travails and put her down.  I suppose the last paragraph is an attempt to justify our decision.  It was a hard one to make.  We stayed with her.  She deserved to be with those who cared at the end.  The gentle dog went gently. 

I know, intellectually it was the humanitarian thing to do. Her life no longer had much quality to it, though she was still coming for the ice and crackers.   And she never complained. Ever.  She was a good friend. 

The pet cemetery just called.  We will get her ashes tomorrow.  When she was outside she liked to patrol the edge of our property along the bush line that separates us from the marsh, smelling the deer and the raccoons that had passed through during the night.  We think that will be a good place for her now – along the patrol route.  

We will celebrate her time with us, though, to be honest, breakfast, practicing the saxophone and cocktail time will never be quite the same.

Sometimes Nice Guys Finish First

Aunt Bebe, as she is known in our family, is my sister-in-law.  She has been a devout Ohio State Buckeye fan long before Bob was even a glimmer in his father’s eye.  She adores the Buckeyes.  I’m not sure why.  She didn’t got to school there.

When Jim Tressel became the coach at OSU, Bebe was ecstatic.  Bebe thought he was great – in part, no doubt, because in his inaugural introduction to the fans, players and students he promised a victory over the dreaded team up north (Michigan- to the uninitiated).  She wrote Tressel encouraging him and raving about the prospects for the team.  She continued to write him. She wrote him when OSU lost (not often) and she wrote him when they won (a lot).  She was his most ardent supporter.

A few years ago, she wrote Tressel before theMichigangame and warned him that they might try a statue of liberty play.  He turned the tables and put the play into his game plan and used it.  In a post game interview with Sports Illustrated,  Tressel mentioned the fact that Bebe, an elderly lady inAkron, had sent him the play and he used it.  The team had gained significant yardage and the story was great p.r.  Needless to say, Bebe was flabbergasted and thrilled.  The local newspaper picked it up and Bebe was a minor celebrity.

When Tressel came under fire for covering up his players misdeeds, Bebe stuck with him and continued to send him supportive letters. One can debate whether Tressel was right or wrong in his actions, but one cannot debate the value of having a friend who understands mistakes, forgives them and continues to be supportive of the errant person.  That’s Bebe.  She understands that to err is human.  She may not accept that she is divine  in her forgiveness, but she is.

Yesterday Bebe was invited, by some folks who also hold her in high regard, to a fund raiser at which Jim Tressel spoke.  Before the speech, the gentleman who was in charge, and who had brought Bebe to the affair, while speaking to Tressel, noticed Bebe standing across the room and said to Tressel: “Do you know this lady?”  Tressel immediately said “Of course, It’s Bebe” (or words to that effect) and he then went over to her and gave her a hug.

Talk about being thrilled.  But the story does not end there.  At the beginning of his speech,  Tressel introduced Bebe to the audience, had her stand up and made some nice comments about her and their years of correspondence.  But wait, that’s not all.  As it was a fund raiser event there was a door prize.  Tressel drew a number for the winner, but the person wasn’t there.  He drew again and – yep, it was Bebe’s number.  And for icing on the cake, Tressel spent a few more moments with her after the affair was over.  Oh, did I mention that Bebe is 85 years old?  .  Bebe probably won’t sleep for a week.

Nice people don’t always finish last.  Sometimes they win.  Maybe not often enough, but sometimes.  No one is nicer than Bebe.  She deserved all that happened to her yesterday.  But it is also clear that Tressel is a nice man.  Maybe his trouble arose because he was just looking out for his players.  I don’t know.  I do know that in my book, Jim Tressel will always be a great coach and a good man just for how he has treated Bebe.