Where’s the smoking gun on the general? or STOP THE (Afghanistan) MADNESS!

June 26, 2010

As promised, I have finally read the Rolling Stone Magazine article that led to the dismissal of Gen. Stanley McChrystal from his duty as chief of the Afghanistan war effort.

Did I miss something? It’s possible (although I doubt it), because I read it on the computer screen. I always have a hard time reading and retaining what I read on the screen, as opposed to what I read in hard print — but life has changed and I’ve had to change with it. But try as I might to look for the smoking gun that leaped out at me (a mixed metaphor, I know) and yelled: “this man must go for his terrible insubordination”, I couldn’t find it.

For sure, the article paints a picture of a rebel, a loose cannon if you will (a better metaphor).

But again, maybe I missed something (I still admit it’s possible). But I didn’t see any quotes from McChrystal to indicate any direct defiance of the president. But he did indicate agreement with criticisms of the Obama administration and others made by his own staffers.

What I did get out of the article is that the United States has no clear mission in Afghanistan and should withdraw — the sooner the better.

I don’t agree with McChrytal’s counter-insurgency tactics (impractical — let the Afghans fight it out themselves and re-build or destroy their own nation), but I don’t fault him for them. He is a professional warrior who was faced with a thankless task.

While I don’t have a crystal  (or even a McChrystal ball — oh well let’s don’t go there) to predict the future, I do have a memory of most of my past 60 years and it tells me we will eventually be out of Afghanistan and we will not have won a victory, but we will have incurred many more casualties. Worse yet, this war may actually bankrupt us.

As that TV infomercial huckster exercise lady Susan Powter used to yell:

STOP THE MADNESS!

P.s.

I plan to reread the article and blog more about it — I found it fascinating. A point of view piece, I would call it — but sometimes to tell the truth, you have to give the point of view instead of ruining the story with ridiculous obligatory counter assertions and denials in the name of objectivity.


Some want to kill the messenger in the McChrystal affair

June 24, 2010

Some of the hard core never criticize war or generals or the good old USA crowd have actually called for the killing (figuratively) of the messenger. They blame the reporter that wrote the story for Rolling Stone Magazine that led to the canning of Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

About the only thing I would say about that is that I don’t want their ilk deciding what I read or where my news comes from. Sure a lot of stuff you read is trash (this blog excepted, I would hope), but that is for the individual reader to decide.

A lot of the uber right wing let’s fight war at the drop of a hat crowd think the role of journalists is to put on those old time Movie Tune newsreels where everything is victory and happiness — if that it were so.

I will also say, though, that I heard the author of that article himself, one Michael Hastings, on an NPR interview and he, if I heard him correctly, indicated that some of the quotes he got were from slightly inebriated McChrystal staffers, and McChrystal himself seemed to indicate agreement with them, Hastings said (I didn’t catch whether he said the general himself was tipsy). And didn’t they know loose lips sink ships — or the general?

One critic suggested you don’t go write a story about warriors’ barroom bragging or trash talking. Well, these were no regular soldiers. But I do think that there is a difficult to see fine line for journalists. It’s a judgment thing. But I would rather the journalists do the judging — not the happy talk only censors.

Anyway, no one is claiming misquotations yet, not even McChrystal.

And he’s gone. We have Gen. David Petraeus taking over, the guy who was given credit for some success in Iraq and who has now technically taken a demotion of sorts since he was the overall commander of what is called Central Command.

Where’s Ike, or Patton, or George Marshall, or U.S. Grant, when we need them? gone to the grave yard every one.

I think the military experts wished we would all understand that there will be no World War II like victory in Afghanistan. It’s a different kind of war — just like all these conflicts we have had since the big one.

No, war is war. One side wins and one side loses, either outright or by default because it eventually quits — or it all just goes on forever.

And I still have not been able to read the story. I feel ashamed to even comment on it — but I am not commenting on it directly, just the events surrounding it.

Next step will be for me to read it. If only I didn’t have to work. But I will — read the story that is.


The general pulls a MacArthur, but it could do some good after all…

June 23, 2010

Just as I suspected, we don’t know what we are doing in Afghanistan and the whole war effort is in disarray, with the top general there in rebellion against the U.S. Constitutional civilian authority over the U.S. military. Gen. Stanley McChrystal has pulled a MacArthur and gone over the president’s head. And by the time most read this blog he will have no doubt been history, as well as he should, bad history at that.

Now if he’d been a general that really wanted to fight a war, such as MacArthur, I might feel a little bad, but from what I understand he was more into creating complicated rules of engagement for his troops, as if they needed any more problems.

I tried to do a quick read of the Rolling Stone article that has got McChrystal into so much trouble but couldn’t make a go of it, as it was late in the day for me — I having driven some 11 hours today, which is yesterday now, according to my blog date, but I’ve been hearing about it all day. Unfortunately most of the interpretation of it was coming from right wing nut radio. And the callers seemed to be torn between being upset with the general for breaking the chain of command, but being glad he dissed Obama.

And so it goes.

And maybe if all this prompts new thinking on our hopeless cause in Afghanistan, it will be a good thing.

I’ll try to have something a little more insightful to blog later.


Right wing nut fundamentalist radio keeps at it or it’s all the environmentalists’ fault and how dare a rich man give away his money!

June 22, 2010

1. The environmental catastrophe playing out in the Gulf of Mexico is the fault of liberals or environmentalists.

2. Saying that man is ruining the environment mocks God somehow, because really only God can do that.

3. When a rich man gives away his money to charity he is helping to destroy the middle class.

4. The moratorium on offshore drilling is doing more harm than the BP oil spill.

These are just a few of the assertions I’ve heard on the ever dependable right-wing nut Christian fundamentalist radio over the last 24 hours or so.

Why do I listen to it? Well, I’m kind of a captive audience, because that’s about all I can usually get on my radio, save for NPR from time to time.

As to number one. I guess the assertion is that by political pressure environmentalists (usually liberal, by definition) have at times prevented drilling too close to shore where it can be seen (I don’t know the truth to this, really). They have also prevented drilling in the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge, a place that seems to be so important to the drill baby drill crowd. So as a result, the oil drillers have been pushed way out to sea (again, I don’t know the accuracy of all this).

Number two just seems to defy logic. We know at face value man can indeed do great damage to the environment. That does not mean the Holy Creator could not as well. Who knows? Maybe the oil leak is some type of sign from God that we have gone too far.

Number three is just bizarre. Rich people give away portions of their money — it’s often referred to as philanthropy — for a variety of reasons. It was said the Robber Barons of the 1890s did it partly out of guilt. Some of the rich say they just want to show their appreciation for what has been made available to them and re-invest some of their wealth back into society. I guess the wing nuts or nut who suggested it was wrong was saying that money should have been invested in the normal way, into some type of business activity that would presumably create jobs. I guess if things got too far out of hand, and too many rich people gave away too much money the whole system would go down — but really? Is that going to happen?

Number four may or may not have a kernel of truth to it if one thinks in strictly immediate and economic terms. But that’s about it. Destroying or degrading our eco system and despoiling the beauty of nature over time creates a much higher cost, at least that is how I see it.

Why I bother to comment on this I cannot say. But it seems to me that a lot of this fractured reasoning finds a lot of willing listeners who take it all in as gospel.

Heaven help us all!


East to Eden to a Father’s Day memory…

June 20, 2010

He was dressed in high-laced working boots, khaki trousers, a wool shirt, suspenders, and a felt hat with the brim turned slightly up in front and back.

That was my father, ready to take my middle brother and I on a hiking trip into the Kern Wilderness area of California, just east of the High Sierras.

This was in the early 1960s. I don’t know where he got the idea for that get up, but I suppose it was his idea of how you dressed in the woods. He often told of the summer he spent as a youth working in a logging camp as a smoke chaser, making sure conditions were safe from fires. The loggers at that time, at least where he was, were still using hand-powered cross cut saws and axes.

Dad was already in his late 50s when he took us on this trip. As I recall, I was 12 and going through a pudgy time of my life and not quite in shape for the hike, and that would have made my brother 16 — he was in much better shape.

And my father must have been in fairly good shape, even though he had a rather sedentary job at the time as a newspaper editor.

We spent the first day hiking up a steep mountain side on a switch back trail. This was not a bit easy for me, and I am sure I complained much. My father was patient about this.

We made camp at the end of the day, and after dinner, cooked by dad on an open fire, he hoisted our food supply up into a tree in a canvas bag to keep it safe from bears.

As I recall, the three of us slept in two sleeping bags zipped together on the hard ground.

In the middle of that night I heard a commotion and I heard my dad yell something. But I went back to sleep without knowing what was going on. Come morning I found out that a small bear had got into camp and dad chucked a rock at him.

I‘m not sure that was such a good idea. But we all survived and our food stayed secure.

Next we climbed up an even steeper trail to what is called Franklin Pass. I really had a tough time with this. Dad patiently waited while I rested. My brother went on ahead.

But eventually we were all at the top where there is a notch in the high range, Franklin Pass. Via a camera with a self-timer, dad made a photo of the three of us with a sign in the background. I think it read that we were at 11,000 and some feet above sea level.

We spent the next day or so hiking down the other side and through a semi-dry, but forested Rattlesnake Canyon.

I remember when at one point after we had made camp, nature called. There were no flush toilets and not even outhouses out there. I went some distance from camp to take care of business. With that done I walked the wrong way back. I eventually found myself at a point that looked at lot like the terrain we had been in earlier in the day. I was lost and terrified. In not too long a time I saw my dad standing on a rock yelling back at me. Thanks dad.

Eventually we came to what is a shear drop-off into the Kern River Canyon. Below we saw the magnificent stream lined with a verdant jungle.

Once we made camp down there, dad had us gather the abundant dry leaves and we made a much more comfortable bed for us all.

Each day we got up early and my brother and I would fish in one spot and dad would go off to another and fish by himself.

The water was crystal clear, and you could see the trout swimming around.

I was using salmon eggs for bait, and at one point I saw a good-sized trout, and to get his attention, I let the egg bounce on his head. The fish snapped it up. I caught the biggest fish of the trip. We all caught a lot of fish down there.

Dad cooked fish in a frying pan every night and fixed pancakes every morning.

One day dad was lying down prone at stream side with his hands cupped to drink some cold stream water. I noticed a small rattlesnake slithering next to his leg. I told him. He said, no it was just a lizard. He had seen one before he got down. But he did stay still until it passed. As it turned out it was a rattlesnake after all. I save dad.

We all enjoyed the trip immensely. But toward the end of our time there, my brother and I got lonesome for the comforts of home — to include candy bars and Coca-Cola as I recall, not to mention our own beds.

No offense mom, but dad did not want to leave. He loved it there. I think one of the reasons he liked it so much was that at the time he had a distasteful job, putting out a small weekly newspaper for an ill-tempered publisher.

But another reason was the place with its dense growth of trees and ferns and its beautiful and fish-filled stream was like a Garden of Eden.

I think this was the happiest I ever saw dad in my life.

And I know my brother enjoyed the trip.

As for me, it was difficult at times, but I think it may have been what led me to start trimming down and to be in somewhat better physical shape.

And for my brother and I it is a good Father’s Day memory.


Congressional hearing on BP embarrassing waste of time…

June 18, 2010

Congressional hearings can be a waste of time, and in fact the one I caught some of today, which will be yesterday by the time most anyone would read this, was embarrassing, if not shameful.

I’m nearly as mad at BP and its CEO Tony Hayward as anyone could be, save those directly affected by his company’s ham handedness or greed and carelessness.

But I think I have to agree with some citizen commentors from the affected areas. What we need to be doing now is get the oil leak stopped — we can sort out the blame and punishment later.

I watched the very opening on the computer and listened to some of it while I was working (driving an 18-wheeler down the road and dropping off and picking up freight). All it was was congressmen asking self-serving loaded questions and they demanded that Hayward answer in a certain way, but like Obama, he kept his cool — he ain’t no fool.

It was like a kangaroo court.

I think we pretty much all realize by now that BP cut corners on safety in the name of profits and they were working in unknown territory, a mile under the sea. While the top guys of other oil companies claimed in earlier testimony they wouldn’t have done things the way BP did, that is easy and convenient for them to say — maybe so, maybe not, they didn’t get caught.

I’m not at all sure that the oil leak can be stopped by man.

I was going to post a blog the other night right after the president’s speech, but due to a computer glitch or my own mistake, added to the fact I had just driven 11 hours, I had to give it up.

But all I was going to say is that I thought something was missing from Obama’s speech, but I could not quite put my finger on it. I had blogged earlier that I thought he should directly address the American people. And at least he did that. And he did promise to put all efforts into fixing the leak and not let up until it is done.

I also now don’t think that speech was the time to politic on alternative energy, even though most political experts would say a crisis should not go wasted. Since alternative energy seems to be such a hot button and divisive issue (what isn’t these days?), I thought it kind of got in the way of the message that he was on the immediate problem at hand.

And beyond all this, I find it puzzling indeed that so many who scoff at environmental concerns and say they are nothing more to barriers to business, now seem to want to blame everything on Obama. It was the policies of primarily Republican administrations (but I suppose Democrats too) that led to such lax safety precautions.

But it is true that for a variety of reasons that this nation must move full speed ahead on the issue of developing alternative energy. I think now that it will take a government program similar to the moon landing project. Private industry can kick in later, but it is not good at long-term research and development. Shareholders are impatient and profit driven (and I suppose somewhat understandably so).

That comment I made about not being sure man can stop the oil leak came as the result of me reading a blog supposedly quoting various engineers — but of course you have to take a lot of what you read, especially on the internet, with a grain of salt, to include this blog, maybe. I try to stick to facts or at least legitimate conjecture, along with a little sarcasm and satire.


So Meg Whitman is reportedly a bully…

June 17, 2010

I want to work for Meg Whitman. I’m sure that I can make her mad enough to hit me. Then if she follows her pattern she’ll pay me $200,000 to keep my mouth shut.

Hurt me, hurt me, shove me, please — I need the money Meg!

I write this after reading a blog that quoted a New York Times story that claims she shoved a young lady media relations assistant, an employee of hers while she was CEO of eBay. The company reportedly paid the victim $200,000 to keep her mouth shut.

I don’t know what the poor media aide looked like, but from the story I picture a young, diminutive Asian girl — her name  is Mi Kim. Whitman, I know from all those photos I have seen of her, is a tall and old white woman, and seems to perpetually wear that forced grin that says I can’t stand putting up with all of you idiots, but I’ll just grin and bear it — for the billions I make, it’s worth it.

The story says that Whitman, or her spokespeople, give a somewhat different account. They say the hapless young woman was guided out of a room by Ms. Whitman.

Man, if you have to pay someone $200,000 to guide them out of a room — I mean if you are doing them a service they ought to have to pay you.

One author of a business blog allowed as the accusations might have been exaggerated, but that nonetheless there is concern for how often Ms. Whitman loses her cool because she would likely run into a great deal of stress if she gets to be governor of California, as she hopes to be.

Since all of this was confidential, with no public charges or inquiry ever made, it’s kind of like asking someone “when did you stop beating your wife?” Or in Whitman’s case, “when did you stop beating up on little Asian girls?”.


Frankly I don’t care if Gulf residents don’t want drilling stopped or not…

June 17, 2010

There seems to be a conflict between people on the Gulf Coast and even in the life of individuals themselves when it comes to this BP oil blowout.

While the oil polluting the waters is devastating the fishing and tourist industry, the moratorium on underwater drilling (a direct result of the unfolding environmental disaster) is throwing large numbers of people out of work, since the oil economy is so big down there. In fact, it is reportedly much bigger than the fishing industry.

So while everyone is ragging on President Obama to stop the oil — everyone from die-hard environmental-denying right wing Republicans to fishermen to even oil drilling workers to the average American, he is taking heat for doing the prudent thing, shutting down drilling until we can be sure it’s safe — the oil’s killing us, but don’t stop it.

I can see the quandary or dilemma here. On the one hand, we have to stop the oil from polluting our ocean and since we thought things were safe before, but they were not, it only seems reasonable to stop things for now until we can get a handle on it all. But meanwhile in the middle of the Great Recession we are throwing thousands out of work.

And then today on the radio (and most of the talk on radio is reactionary right wing) they are saying that a majority of folks in Louisiana do not approve of the way Obama is handling things and that they don’t like the moratorium on underwater drilling — even as the sea turns red and marine life dies off as in some biblical plague — and right there, isn’t that ironic, since the right wing loves so much to spout off or refer to biblical prophecy — maybe this is part of what is foretold in the Book of Revelation.

Maybe you bible-quoting right wingers who seem to worship the god of oil money and comfort more than God Almighty himself, are reaping what ye have sewn — may ye drown in a barrel of oil.

But seriously, I don’t care what the people of Louisiana think, necessarily. It’s not their Gulf or their ocean; it is all of ours’.

I need to read more about this all, but one headline I read hit what has occurred to me — what if the leak or gusher or whatever you call it cannot be stopped?

Will the people who call you a tree hugger or crazy hippie environmentalist still deny it all? No, they’ll blame it on Obama or Bill Clinton or maybe they’ll go way back in time and blame it on Jane Fonda.

I say it’s Sarah Palin’s fault!

P.s.

In the interest of balance, I note that Mr. Obama did some God talk himself in his Oval Office address. Of course he is not politically right wing — but even though we all have a right to refer to God, don’t tell that to the Christian right — they think they have exlusive rights on the subject.


Afghanistan surprise find and claiming spoils of war…

June 14, 2010

It’s not really about making a better life for the Afghanistan population, and it is not directly about keeping America free.

It’s about iron and copper, used to make steel, and it’s about lithium used in batteries and computers.

According to the story I just read on the New York Times site, it seems that it has been newly re-discovered that Afghanistan may well have tremendous untapped reserves of the valuable metals.

Russian geologists had discovered this back when the old USSR was fighting there, but when the Soviets pulled out, they left all that behind.

While I find it hard to believe no one in the U.S. knew about this, it was not talked about at all.

The story says it would take much time to develop the mining industry there, but the income from it could more than finance the war. Isn’t that great!?

I’ve always maintained that the main reason the U.S. fights in that region is oil — well maybe for some other valuable resources too.

(I always thought there must have been some secret oil find or something in Vietnam.)

Meanwhile, China keeps developing oil fields in Iraq and has become Saudi Arabia’s number one customer for oil, I read, edging out the U.S.

It does seem distressing that we spend so much blood and treasure in that region of the world but let another nation who has criticized our moves there run away with what in another time would have been judged the “spoils of war”.

I don’t want to come off as so crass as to suggest the U.S.’s one and only reason for being there is a raw power grab, so to speak, over or for raw resources, but one does have to remind one’s self from time to time that struggles between nations and forces in the world throughout history usually involve the competition for resources.

The former German president (that nation’s ceremonial head of state) resigned recently for suggesting that German troops as part of the multi-national force in Afghanistan were looking out for the interests of Germany. He was speaking the truth, but realized that he had broken a modern post-World War II taboo in Germany and admitted to using military force to look out for the nation’s interests.

The U.S. worked hand in hand with the right wing authoritarian governments (now left wing) in Bolivia to ensure that the communists would not get control there. One of those right wing military governments executed Che Guevara, leftist revolutionary icon, for the U.S. CIA.

Today, Bolivia has a left wing government whose leader is buddy with socialist dictator and U.S. antagonist Hugo Chavez of Venezuela (an important U.S. oil source, the country is I mean to say). But our Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, was there the other day making nice nice with officials there, Bolivia that is.

Bolivia may have the world’s largest source of lithium deposits (as yet untapped).

As far as I am concerned, we can’t or shouldn’t run other countries’ affairs, but it does not hurt to be on good terms with them if you need their resources.

And in the case of Iraq where we have sacrificed so much, it is almost an unforgivable sin to let China, who sacrificed nothing, to get the goods.

It’s interesting that just as enthusiasm for continued fighting in Afghanistan has really started to diminish both in the U.S. and Europe (according to what I read) that the news is now divulged that, hey folks, there’s a mineral bonanza there!

Well I would hope it could at least pay for the war as the oil in Iraq did not.

Seriously, I think the U.S. needs to decide if it is really worth it to continue what is yet another U.S. quagmire of a war, now in Afghanistan, and if the answer is yes, overwhelm those who resist us with overwhelming force, occupy the nation, set things straight, and then get in on the spoils of war. If this is not possible, say we tried our best, thank all for their service and sacrifice, and leave and return home and rebuild our own nation.

P.s.

Why I feel obligated to mention this, I can’t really say, but I realize that the U.S. went into Afghanistan initially and supposedly to go after Osama Bin Laden and his forces, the culprits in the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. But that effort fell by the wayside for years after George W. Bush decided to go into Iraq for reasons that may be known only to him. Then our new President Barack Obama decided that Afghanistan was the right war after all and named a new general there and sent more troops, with little to no positive effect to date (and the outlook is not good).

It seems to me that we should have set up our own provisional government there — that country did harbor those who attacked us — and set things straight, instead of putting up with a corrupt government. It may well be impossible to deal with Afghanistan, what with the stange culture and tribalism and resistance to outside influence.  Others have tried though the centuries to no avail.

If that be that be the case, as I suggested in this post, thank everyone for their service and bring our forces home.

And then we should say to Afghanistan: don’t attack us again. Next time we won’t be so patient.


Over-generous retirement benefits bankrupting local governments…

June 14, 2010

State and local governments, municipalities large and small, are facing near or actual bankruptcy, and besides or adding to the problem of the current Great Recession, a major culprit is over-generous retirement benefits. In some cases, as I understand it, they are eating up as much as 70 percent of the budgets.

Once upon a time, it is said, public employees were not paid as much as ones in the private sector, but a draw was job security and those retirement benefits. And when times were good, oh did local governments and the states (in many cases) go crazy with the retirement benefits.

In San Francisco, I heard on a radio talk show, some employees retire with 90 percent of their regular salary. And in many cases in that city, employees did not even have to contribute to their retirement. There is a move afoot via a proposed ballot measure to change that. The move is to force employees to contribute and/or contribute more.

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ADD 1: I don’t live in the big city. Up where I live at the northern end of  the Sacramento Valley, my hometown city council is asking some of its non-union employees to start paying 50 percent of their retirement contributions and may eventually demand that they pay all or make their own arrangements.

———————-

(I’m not going to get into the specific issue of allowing police and fire personnel to retire early, 20 years, because of the special risks and possible health problems on their jobs. There is room for debate on that, but I think that gets off the general subject.)

Also, studies show that in most cases, government employees most everywhere make more than in the private sector.

If I had any sense — which I have never been accused of — I would have settled down in the small town in which I attended high school and got a job with local government. The pay is better than in the private sector and the retirement is better.

Having once been a newspaper reporter covering county government, I’ll give you a clue as to why county employees are treated so well. They are a tremendous voting block. Elected county supervisors who want to hold their own cushy positions often feel it necessary to curry favor with the employee unions.

I know elected county supervisors in the area where I live do a tremendous amount of work — that is they spend a lot of hours with county issues — and the pay for their positions varies from county to county. But it is extra pay, and it is often as much as many of their own constituents make at their regular jobs. And all these elected board members have their own businesses or employment. And there is no actual legal requirement they do anything, other than show up for meetings — but of course most of them spend a lot of hours at the task nonetheless.

But back to paid government employees (as opposed to elected officials), for my part, I think government employees should be paid well, but not above their closest counterparts in private industry. But they should have job security to the greatest extent possible.

And right now I’ll interject a thought here. I just read that President Obama wants to supply special federal aid for some local government employees, such as teachers and policemen and firemen, to head off layoffs due to the recession. I’m not sure that is such a good idea, at least not without a requirement that local governments agree to put up some matching funds. It’s about time local governments took more responsibility with the dollars they spend. It’s also about time local voters started to realize how much things really cost and make prudent decisions rather than pass the costs on to taxpayers elsewhere. That does not mean there should not be some type of federal aid or revenue sharing, but it needs to require some major commitment from local taxpayers first. Otherwise, what is the use of local government?

But back to these over-lavish pensions, which can be found in burgs large and small. There is a limit to what the public can afford. Government should not go into deficit spending to pay its workers. A private company could not do this and survive (And I know someone will say something to the effect that the law does not even allow their local government to deficit spend, but the states and federal governments do, and much of that cost is from having to bail out local governments).

And while it is apparently quite legal, I feel that it should not be legal for public employees, local or state or federal, to strike. To do so is to defy the popularly-elected government. While I was never a fan of Ronald Reagan and don’t look back at him as being one of our great presidents (I’d have to re-assess his terms in my own mind), I do think he was right to can the striking air traffic controllers. It’s one thing to conduct a job action against a private employer, but quite another to threaten the safety and security of the nation’s citizens. And even a strike by federal custodians (not to pick on them — just an example) would be a challenge to the day-to-day function of the government, so I do not believe government employees should be able to strike anymore than I would support the right of, say, our soldiers, to strike. But that’s why I think there does have to be special civil service protections (as long as they are reasonable) for government employees.

But again, public employment is not private employment.

Public employment should offer reasonable wages and above all job security and in return public employees should be required to serve the public or let someone else do the job.

But it is partly the fault of the voters for not being alert to what their elected governing boards do, and it is certainly the fault of elected officials who let retirement benefits get out of hand.

As I understand it, when the economy was better the retirement costs were not as burdensome. In some cases the funds were self-sustaining with their money invested in the market. But now that things are not as good, the costs of agreed-to retirement benefits still have to be met. With already-existing contracts or agreements, perhaps not much can be done, unless parties are willing to re-negotiate. But one exception is if a government entity goes bankrupt — then, as I understand it, things can get ugly indeed. All parties can lose out. Some employee unions should think of this.

Going forward, government entities need to be more prudent when it comes to wage scales and retirement benefits. And if at all possible, over-generous existing benefit structures should be scaled back.

I don’t necessarily blame public employees for taking what they can get, but they should also remember that there is a real danger of killing the goose that laid the golden egg.

P.s.

The editor of the first newspaper I worked for wrote an editorial one day about the high cost of public employee raises. That evening when he arrived home he found his wife crying. She worked in a county office and was told she would not be getting a raise. Her boss read the newspaper.