As always- despite what some people believe- both sides have some good points. What is this change in military retirement that has so many in an uproar? Those over 62 see no changes. And once a retiree reaches 62, retirement goes back to normal. But between the day of retirement and age of 62, the annual increase in retirement pay (which is adjusted based on inflation) will go up 1% less than the annual cost-of-living increase 1. Example: if the consumer price index (which measures inflation) goes up 3% in a year, the retiree's retirement pay will only go up 2% for that year. 

This is a modest change. But over the course of years can mean the different between 1.7 million and 1.8 million 2. For those who retire later or if inflation goes up more slowly, the different will be much smaller. As someone who grew up in the lower class, I have to admit it: my jaw just dropped when I heard people were complaining about this! Seriously! Are you kidding me!? If you joined at 18 years old, you're going to RETIRE at 38 getting retirement payments for the rest of your life! 

And as I've said multiple times: bluntly, people, WE HAVE TO CUT THE DAMN BUDGET SOMEWHERE. Seriously. Every time anyone suggests cutting the budget- must less actually cuts it- there is uproar. The media trots out someone affected by the cuts, portraying Washington as evil personified. Yet people turn around and complain that Washington spends too much.

But the arguments against this change are powerful too. One, people joined the military- and in many cases, put their lives on the line (not to mention those who actually lost their lives- with this promise firmly in place. Trust me, a lot of military people (especially those in high-level intelligence jobs) could be making a lot more in the civilian world. They take the lower pay for 20 years not just for their country, but also with the knowledge their country is going to keep the promises they made about retirement pay. 

The sacrifices military members and their families make are many. Having a good (great) retirement plan is part of the compensation for this. 

There is another argument that is also true, and very worrying. Previously, military retirement has been sacrosanct. They couldn't- or wouldn't under any circumstances- touch it. But once they start making cuts- no matter how modest- the idea that it's all right to change it at any time in the future is on the table.  


1. Sisk, R. (Dec. 20, 2013). Congress Set to Overturn COLA Cuts for Retirees. Military.com.
2. IndyStar.com. (Dec. 23, 2013). Paul Ryan: Military retirement pay can’t gouge defense budget. IndyStar.com

 
 
Yep, I just have to insult both sides. 
 
 
As Pope Francis is Time's Person of the Year and due to the fact that I highly respect him, I'm going to dedicate a quotable quotes post to him. I've also included the link to his Apostolic Exhortation : http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium_en.pdf

Here are some of his best words (in my opinion) so far: 

"If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, well who am I to judge them?"

"Women are asking deep questions that must be addressed. The church cannot be herself without the woman and her role. The woman is essential for the church. Mary, a woman, is more important than the bishops."

"How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?"

“To love God and neighbor is not something abstract, but profoundly concrete: it means seeing in every person and face of the Lord to be served, to serve him concretely. And you are, dear brothers and sisters, in the face of Jesus.” 
 
 
A long, long, long time ago (about three years ago), I commented on one of my WTF Friday posts about the "sailor camouflage" uniforms. I used to be in the Navy. Trust me...if your *ss goes overboard, you DON'T want to blend in with the water! Some genius commented saying that they turned orange when exposed to salt water. Since they were reading my blog, I was sure they really were a genius trying to find out how many people would fall for that. 

Anyway, the question has been answered. Now we know what what the uniforms are supposed to blend into. After all...as a sailor, I did wash and wax a lot of floors. 
P.S. Merry Christmas & thanks to all of the wonderful military members, especially those working today (like my husband....but on the bright side, he's fairly safe on the boat from gunfire). 
 
 
This story has hit hard to the surprise of many. However, it has so many aspects of debate that it isn't surprising so many people have weighed in. We have free speech vs. hate speech (and does free speech only apply to the government?). Right to moral expression/warn brother of their sin vs. throwing the first stone. Public figure vs. private individual- and the role of the employer in each. 

Let us settle the free speech debate. Right to free speech often refers to the official, legal definition that guarantees an individual's right to free speech without government suppression/interference. However, this does not mean that freedom of speech is limited to that...it has been declared a universal human right by the United Nations1. Exceptions naturally apply, among them speech that "incite action to harm others"2

Some claim that "hate speech" is not a right. This is where the line gets blurry. Who defines hate? If someone finds something morally offensive, don't they have the right to say so? If I find stealing morally offensive and say so, am I declaring "hatred" towards those who steal? 

One's right to anything generally ends when that right starts impeding another's rights. Declaring that one finds homosexuality morally offensive does not impede the rights of anyone else. It is an opinion, spoken, that those who disagree with it can simply ignore. 

The catch? A&E is perfectly within their rights to dismiss him from his job, either temporarily or permanently. Freedom of speech doesn't mean freedom from consequences. If a company feels an employee is representing them in a negative light, they have the right to fire that employee. When this debate started, a friend of mine related a story about them being fired because a private email to her husband- sent using a company computer- contained a swear word. The rights of the company are the same whether a figure is private or public: an employee can use their right of freedom of speech; an employer can dismiss the employee on grounds they represent the company negatively (in their eyes). 

Free speech set aside now, let's address the religious aspect. Phil Robertson was clear that he finds homosexuality morally wrong based on his Christian beliefs. Some have said that his statements weren't Christian because some Christians don't agree with him. (For example, CNN: "And while conservatives such as Sarah Palin want to drape Robertson's remarks with the banner of Christianity, the truth is not everyone who identifies as a Christian subscribes to anti-gay beliefs.3

Sorry, invalid argument. Not every single Christian has to agree on something before one can believe that Christianity advocates or precludes certain behaviors. And let's not even get into the debate between being gay and practicing the sexual actions associated with being gay. 

So, this is an argument about free speech (in the universal sense), but not an argument about free speech (in the legal Constitutional sense). It is an argument about hate speech, but (probably) doesn't qualify as hate speech. It is an argument about religious rights...but it doesn't necessarily mean the religious argument itself (homosexuality is morally wrong) is right. 

Thus, we're all (kind of) right. I vote we start ignoring the debate, enjoy Christmas, and go do something nice for someone else. I think we can all agree that helping others is universally right. 


Sources:
1. United Nations. Article 19. Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Retrieved from: http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml#a19
2. United States Courts. What Does Freedom of Speech Mean? Retrieved from: http://www.uscourts.gov/educational-resources/get-involved/constitution-activities/first-amendment/free-speech.aspx
3. Granderson, LZ. (December 19, 2013). 'Duck Dynasty' star's free speech rights weren't violated. CNN Opinion. Retrieved from: 
http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/19/opinion/granderson-duck-dynasty/
 
 
Forgive the random post, but I cannot get Facebook to grab the right image! 
 
 
I was chatting with my husband- who is in the US Navy- about current news. I mentioned the Westboro "church" (I don't consider them an actual church...preaching hatred isn't showing love to one's neighbor) planning/trying to go to South Africa to protest Mandela's funeral. Their reason for going? As a divorced man he's damned in their eyes. They don't mention leaving judgment to God. 

 I also mentioned to my husband the laws regarding free speech in South Africa. While they do respect free speech, it does not extend to "hate speech" that infringes upon another's dignity. I doubt South Africa would be in the mood to be lenient on this law in regards to Mandela. Thus, serious trouble could result for the members of the Westboro group. 

The interesting part of this story is my husband's response. "Let them go...when they get back from jail in 30 years they'll be a lot more grateful to those soldiers who defended their freedom of speech."


*Note: I do NOT believe that they are going to be at the funeral. I doubt that South Africa would allow them to enter the country.
Let me also note that the source of this news story seems to be some Twitter posts by the Westboro Baptist group. While I have found multiple Tweets about Mandela, I can find absolutely nothing on the actual Westboro site about these plans. I will update as more news emerges. 
  
 
 
 
 
I'm one of the last people to defend the amount of the money the government spends. It's ridiculous. Everyone knows this. However, when it comes down to reducing how much the government spends, everyone refuses to face one simple fact: to spend less, we have to….oh, duh, spend less. That means cutting programs. And every single time a program is cut, the media or politicians or a special interest group trots out the "victims" who are hurt by such cuts. One cannot deny that people are affected when programs are reduced or ended. 


The debt ceiling has been increased again. Where would you trim the fat? What programs or areas of spending do you think need reduced? 


For a look at our current debt (it is very, very depressing watching the numbers go up!), check out the U.S. National Debt Clock at http://www.usdebtclock.org/
 
 
The majority of citizens in America think they're standard of living is "all right." They would like it to be better, but it's livable. 

I'm sure many people realize how lucky they are. But it is always good to ponder things. I propose we take some serious time- not just 5 minutes- to compare our standard of living to those who lived 100 years ago. Then I think we should take even more time and compare our standard to living to those who live in some of the poorer parts of the world. During this "serious time," we should look up articles, news clips, or other data that gives an accurate portrayal of the living conditions. 

What is poverty in day to day life? 
  • It is having to carry water for long distances simply to HAVE water. This doesn't mean the water is safe. 
  • It is the nearly 1 billion people who entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their name. 
  • It is 2.6 billion people without basic sanitation. 

(Thank you to the following site for gathering these facts. http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats. They also have the link to the sources of these (and many more) facts if you are interested). 

In addition, the following is from 2011, but I also found it moving. 
Some 21,000 children die every day around the world.
That is equivalent to:
  • 1 child dying every 4 seconds
  • 14 children dying every minute
  • A 2011 Libya conflict-scale death toll every day
  • A 2010 Haiti earthquake occurring every 10 days
  • A 2004 Asian Tsunami occurring every 11 days
  • An Iraq-scale death toll every 19–46 days
  • Just under 7.6 million children dying every year
  • Some 92 million children dying between 2000 and 2010


The silent killers are poverty, hunger, easily preventable diseases and illnesses, and other related causes. Despite the scale of this daily/ongoing catastrophe, it rarely manages to achieve, much less sustain, prime-time, headline coverage.

That is from: http://www.globalissues.org/article/715/today-21000-children-died-around-the-world 


Note: Yes, you just have to click on the links, but I leave them written out for those who can't or prefer to cut and paste themselves.