Thursday, September 30, 2010

Gender Pay Gap

It happens every fall and this year is no different. We’re being told that women earn about 80% of what men earn. This alleged pay gap is reported by so-called non-biased groups and underscored by government research. I say nonsense. Actually, I say something a little more profane but I try to avoid that sort of language here.

My evidence, you ask...

Sure. I looked that the pay scales for the military and I saw no asterisks that suggested women would be paid at a lower rate than their male counterparts. I saw the pay scale that pays based on years of service and rank. I saw that a few, in the lower officer grades were paid more than some others, but that was based on service in enlisted grades and not gender. The pay is equal.

I looked at some school districts and saw the pay scales based, not on gender, but on length of service and education. Those with graduate degrees were paid more than those who did not have graduate degrees. The pay was not based on gender.

I will note right here that there seem to be more males in the administration of the school districts, but I saw nothing to suggest that the women holding similar positions with the same educational background and length of service were paid less.

In the recent past, I have noted a couple of stories that show women, at some entry level positions are paid MORE than their male counterparts. This means there are fewer women for those jobs and the companies and corporations get "brownie points" from the government for having female employees in those jobs. Since there are fewer women available they are paid more... and I hear no one complaining about this disparity in pay. The pay is based on gender and who is available.

I’ll even take this a step farther. I know of one company that promoted women over men based solely on gender rather than on longevity, education, or performance. They wanted a female manager and it made no difference that their choice was based only on gender.

I’ll even bet that if you looked beyond the statistics, you’d find reasons beyond gender. The male might have been with the company longer, though they are now in the same job. Maybe the male has a higher level of education. Maybe the woman took three or five years off to raise a family.

No, I’m not offering excuses, but reasons. If you just look at who holds what job and what they are paid, you might not be getting the whole story. Your results would be skewed, but you would be reinforcing the common myths about these unfair practices.

And if the woman learned that she was being underpaid by her corporate bosses, then doesn’t she have grounds for a lawsuit? Aren’t there supposed to be laws that prevent this sort of thing?

No, I just don’t believe this without some substantial proof that women in the work force are being unfairly treated... Yes, some are. Sexual harassment is still a problem, but none of this is as blatant or widespread as it was last century. Maybe we can get another story broadcast about the success of women in the work force...

Oh, that’s right. That isn’t the storyline we want to follow. We want to believe that women are being universally mistreated and unpaid. That gets the viewers.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Time Table for Withdrawal

I’m very annoyed at the Commander-in-Chief for giving our enemies a time table to end combat operations. Has he learned nothing from history? Does he not have a clue about running an effect war? Just who in the hell are his advisors anyway?

Oh, I understand that he is playing to his liberal minions and that he is attempting to fulfill a campaign promise. But here is the problem with that. Soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen are still in the field and are engaged by an enemy that is ruthless, uncaring, murderous, dangerous and without morals. He’ll tell you one thing and then stab you in the back. It has been this way since the beginning of time and you would think that anyone who as ever studied history would know this.

But let’s look at some of this history. Lyndon Johnson lied us into the war in Vietnam (I just mention this so we can get away from the Bush lied us into war in Iraq... they all do this). Richard Nixon lied to keep us engaged in Vietnam and then lied to get us out.

In the meantime the men and women of the military made the sacrifices that the country asked, often without question, doing what they believed to be the honorable thing to do. And what did it gain them?

A lack of support from the civilian chain of command. Richard Nixon could have ended the Vietnam War the day he took office with the same results he got four years later. Instead, he came up with his plan, put it into effect a week before the election and achieved his goal... reelection.

Of course the communists lied to him... or Henry Kissinger, and the minute the American ground forces were gone, rolled over the South Vietnamese Army. As I say, our withdrawal could have been accomplished four years earlier with a reduction in the lost of American lives and the same, ultimate outcome.

The point? Politics took precedence over responsible pursuit of the war. Those who were hurt? The military men and women and their families... but this war didn’t touch everyone. You could walk down the street and see no sign of the conflict. Who cared?... except those in uniform and those who loved them.

President Obama apparently didn’t study the Vietnam War. He is obviously unaware that the North Vietnamese knew, based on what was published in our newspapers and broadcast on our news, that all they had to do was wait. Engage in some combat, but just wait. Eventually we would tire and leave... which we did.

And once we were out, we would not be inclined to re-engage, no matter how swiftly the North Vietnamese violated the peace agreement. They knew we wouldn’t come back...

And now here we are, forty years later, and that lesson of history has been lost on today’s politicians... democrat and republican (no, they don’t deserve capital letters). With Bush in office, the democrats offered resistance every step of the way. Now with Obama in office the republicans are resisting and no one seems to notice how they have changed sides. Politics over rational thought and strategic planning.

But the war continues. American military men and women (sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers) are engaged in combat while the politicians are engaged in rhetoric. These politicians claim to be for the "troops" but when push comes to shove, they are for their own political party, their own political agenda, and their own political life. The troops be damned.

So now the president has said that he will end the combat operations in Afghanistan next year, as promised. He said that he will analyze the situation then and make a decision, but we all know that politics will be the deciding factor here. The military situation will not dictate the solution. Politics will.

In the end, it will be the military who make the sacrifices and the only ones who really worry about them are their families and friends. No one pays attention to this any more because the important stories such as which Hollywood idiot was arrested, who is in jail and who is out, and the important story of how the Oval Office has been redecorated will fill the "news hole."

In this case, however, the Commander-in-Chief ought to read the history. He should not make a decision that unnecessarily puts the military at risk nor should he announce his strategic decisions months before he puts his plans into action. In this case, he should not be a politician but take the title, Commander-in-Chief to heart and understand what it means. In that way he can transcend the nonsense of some of our past Commanders-in-Chief. But only if he can set aside politics and I have seen nothing to suggest he is capable of this... and in the end, it is the military who will suffer.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wall Street Greed?

Just when I thought it was safe to watch television again, the political ads have returned. Now I’m again treated to the Washington crowd as well as other politicians, telling me that the vast economic problems we face today are the result of Wall Street greed. Those evil corporate men and women doing everything they can to earn a buck... almost always at the expense of the rest of us, or so we’re told.

Well, I ask, what about Congressional greed? Representatives and senators voting with their pocketbooks rather than with the best interest of the country in mind. These men and women wondering what they can do to buy votes for their re-election rather than what harm might befall those in their home districts.

It seems to me that these people in Washington wrote the book on greed. Social security... you pay into but not them. They have exempted themselves from that. In fact, they always seem to opt out of these programs that are supposed to be so good for the rest of us.

I really don’t want to hear about Wall Street greed simply because we know those people are acting in their own self interest. That’s what they do. That’s what they trained to do. It is their mind set. Gordon Gekko said it best. "Greed is good."

But Congress and the Senate? They were supposed to think about what their constituency wants. They’re supposed to have our best interests at heart. But what do they do? Vote for what they think will keep them in office. Sell their votes to the highest bidder. (Oh, you want an example... How about the original plan that would have kept Nebraska out of the universal health care? Explain that...)

So, the next time that you see one of those ads that talks about greed on Wall Street remember this. The real greed is in Washington where they have their hands in our pockets. If they could take everything we own, they’d do it in a minute... and then give it to someone else, as long as the new person would vote for them.

So much for Wall Street greed.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Burning the Quran

For those who don’t get it, the world is now connected by the Internet. It doesn’t matter where you live, what you do, or how backward your country might seem. We’re all connected in ways that no one envisioned just a few years ago. Who would have thought that I could sit in my room and communicate instantly with people all over the world without having to use a telephone.

This was demonstrated again when a pastor with a congregation of a couple of dozen made a wild statement that he was going to burn the Muslim holy book. Within hours he had ignited protests throughout the Muslim world. The commanding general in Afghanistan said that this would adversely affect the men and women stationed there and would make their jobs that much more difficult, if not deadly.

The pastor, a man of God, was unmoved by all this.

Muslims responded with protests, burning the American flag. People did die during the protests and it seemed that the pastor, a man of God, was unmoved by all that as well.

I will make two comments. As a soldier who had been stationed in Iraq in 2003 and 2004, I knew the power of the Internet and satellite TV. What was being said in the United States, including the lack of support coming from our own Congress was well known to the Iraqis... they did, after the toppling of Saddam Hussein, have access to satellite TV and the Internet. Those comments, made in a political arena and based only on a political agenda, affected the soldiers in the field. The Muslims were watching satellite TV and reading the Internet and reacted to it... often negatively.

Upon my return, I asked some of those protesting the war if they were at all concerned about the danger the soldiers in the field faced. I asked if they realized that their words were encouraging the terrorists to wage war. I asked if they thought about the consequences.

Not one had.

Worse still, now that they knew, they weren’t going to let that affect their political agenda... We support the troops, but not to the point where we must weigh what we say against the consequences for those on the front lines. They weren’t interested in supporting the troops to that extent.
And second, why would those who abhorred the burning of their holy book respond by burning the American flag? Shouldn’t we now be out in the streets protesting their destruction of our national symbol...

Oh, wait. That comes under the heading of free speech, a right that many have gone to war to protect...

I won’t point out the irony here. I’ll let you figure it out.

I will say this. In our world today, you must carefully weigh your words against the possible negative outcome. When it comes to protecting the troops in the field, I’m for limiting what is said... while the troops are engaged. Before that engagement, after the danger for them is over, say whatever you please...

But remember, what you say is no longer said in a vacuum. The world is watching on satellite TV and the Internet.