Written by: Colin Offenbacker
Welcome back to the Salt of the Streets Blog, Colin here again this week, filling in for Don. Instead of doing the 3rd part of my Iran-Contra series this week, I’m going to be discussing something a little more contemporary. I’ll be back again next week with more Iran-Contra but today were going to be talking about some of my personal frustration stemming from the partial government shutdown. If you didn’t catch Don and I’s hour and a half long conversation on it on the last podcast your seriously missing out. We covered a million different aspects of the shutdown, but I still have a chip on my shoulder about the whole thing. It’s an avenue we didn’t focus on too much, but today, I’m going to get into it.
I’m going to start out by telling a story.
Now, I feel like I should preface this whole thing by saying I do have a pretty mushy soft spot in my heart for little random acts of kindness and charity. That being said, last week I was thumbing through my facebook feed and stumbled upon a post that left a single salty tear slowly rolling down my cheek. It was a post from the wife of an old Coast Guard shipmate of mine. The first thing that caught my eye was the picture attached to the post. It was a picture of an opened card with a simple sympathy entry inside, it said “Just remember, YOU’RE NOT ALONE in this.” And below this was a hand written message, reading, “Sorry your family is affected by the government shutdown. This isn’t much but hope it can help in some way.” The cover of the card didn’t have an address written on it, no return address, just the family’s last name. That right there tells me that the anonymous do gooder was perhaps someone local to there community. They weren’t looking for any recognition, they simply wanted to help a family, a friend, or maybe a neighbor, who through no fault of there own were in need.
This post filled my heart all at once with both joy and sadness. Joy for the selfless act of anonymous charity. Sadness, and rage due to the fact that an active duty service member and his family, do to the shutdown, were in a position to necessitate an act of charity.
Being a prior member of the United States Coast Guard myself, I have been highly agitated by the federal governments complete blundering of the political situation centered around The Wall. As I prefaced in the beginning of this post, I won’t be rehashing all the things Don and I discussed around the shutdown here. No, I have a separate bone to pick today.
This time, my animosity is focused on “my people”. The social and political commentators from the Conservative side of the political spectrum. Particularly Ben Shapiro of The Daily Wire and John Podhoretz of Commentary Magazine, both of whom host shows I listen to as part of my regular podcast regiment.
They, like many on the conservative side of the spectrum have seemed to beat the drum of, hey so what if some 800,000 federal workers are either furloughed, without pay, or are having to work, without pay. I am very much of a similar mindset, when it comes to most bureaucratic branches of the federal government, but, when one of those branches is an active duty military branch, my lack of sympathy reaches for the hand break and screeches to a stop.
This ridiculous shutdown has been going on now for the ladder part of a month, with no end in site. All this time, there has been more than 40,000 of our nations young men and women in the United States Coast Guard standing there watch, braving perilous waters to perform search and rescue operations, interdicting massive drug shipments, stopping and often saving the lives of, what would be undocumented/illegal migrants who were trying to make the dangerous voyage across literal oceans to get into this country, and a dozen other various missions. All without being paid.
The complete lack of almost any conversation around this idea of an entire branch of the military missing out on paychecks, and by conservatives no less, seems fundamentally wrong to me. As someone who generally lands on the conservative side more times than not, I always thought that regardless of politics we stood by our military, we supported our troops, at home and abroad. It’s a fundamental core belief. Apparently taking shots at the bevy of democratic presidential hopefuls coming out of the woodwork, or at the lefts latests rising star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is more important. Don’t get me wrong, I love to destroy the crazy things that come out of her mouth as much as the next guy, but it’s like shooting the broad side of a barn with her. It may be fun, yes, but there’s no substance to it, at this point it’s all just part of this “own the libs” routine they all seem to be playing. All while our nations finest are baring the brunt of another ridiculous game of political softball. I’m disappointed, I’m angry, I mean these are “my people” and they’re dropping the ball on calling out the government for there stupidity and shear incompetence.
Do we need a wall? I mean, who the hell am I to say. I don’t know, I would like to think that in 2019 we could be a little more sophisticated than a fucking wall, but in the end, this is political debate that should be happening on the floors of the House of Congress and in the Senate. That’s how this is supposed to work for god sakes. If we the people, working through our elected representatives haven’t collectively figured out the answer when it comes time to fund our over-bloated government, tough, we’ll have to continue to debate and to politically negotiate while we continue to fund and run the behemoth governmental machine that we’ve all helped build.
In closing I want to leave you with just a few of the statistics put out by the U.S. Coast Guard covering Fiscal Year 2017:
Removed over 223 metric tons of cocaine; 31,190 pounds of marijuana; 6 kilograms of heroin
and other opiates; and 168 kilograms of methamphetamines worth $6.6 billion wholesale.
Interdicted 2,512 undocumented migrants.
Responded to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria assisting more than 11,200 persons.
Conducted over 5,300 hours of icebreaking operations to support movement of cargo worth
over $1.5 billion through ice-impeded waters of the Great Lakes and the Eastern Seaboard.
Not counting hurricanes, they responded to 12,270 pollution incident reports; responded to 16,069
Search and Rescue cases; assisted 22,004 people; saved 4,228 lives; and protected more than
$76 million in property from loss.