Welfare verses the General Public

I happened on the Hair Braiders suing Missouri regulators article on the St. Louis Post Dispatch early this morning.  A couple of commentators where appalled that there are welfare recipients who will prim and “look good” on the American tax payer’s dime. It happens.  It happens all the time and yes, it angers this blogger as am sure it does other readers and the American public in general to know that when it comes to spending “our money” priorities are not set straight.

For me it’s not about race, it’s not about a certain class. It’s about a person’s mentality, what they feel are their immediate priorities and of course, on what they feel they are entitled to.

I was on welfare while in college however I worked on campus, was in the Army Reserves (still serving) and had a full load of college courses. Indeed those of us who have used welfare need to set our priorities straight. Now I work for Uncle Sam and continue charging forward as a soldier and am giving back to my country and my community by becoming a productive member of society.

My daughter saw me as an example of what a Hispanic woman could do while raising a child without the father and without child support. You have to grasp life by the horns and take charge. Simple as that. I saw welfare only as a temporary assistance when it was needed and it should only be seen as that unless you are elderly or mentally/physically disabled. Welfare should NOT be seen as a way of life, a get out of jail free card. It’s there for a reason but yes, it does get abused.  Yes, my rant goes off topic on what the article is discussing but am more focused on what the comment section has provided to me, the reader.

I do think Hair Braiders should be licensed. It’s a thriving business here in St. Louis and I do love the look. It is also a very tedious process but once completed creates a well-coiffed appearance.

 

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Money for nothing

imagesFood stamp issuance can be a touchy issue and it’s been reported that Ohio has taken this benefit from over 10,000 residents and that number will continue to rise.  One of the new requirements (if you can call it new) is that those receiving assistance need to work at least 20 hours a week, go to school, get job training etc….(source)

I was on them for a few years while in college and I also worked on campus and was in the reserves; but there are those who are on it who take advantage of the system and those individuals need to be held accountable. If you’re mentally and physically able , then go to school, work those allotted hours. I also know of soldiers who are on them and I don’t begrudge the use because they are working.

Say what you will but there are people out there who do abuse the system and that’s what needs to be addressed. I am not talking about the elderly and those who have some kind of mental or physical issue. That’s not what this article addresses when they discuss removing individuals who shouldn’t be on them. And as far as drug testing I believe that is a given. I have to be tested as a soldier and my pay is from the taxpayers. So should anyone else who receives government aid. Period. This country is hurting economically and am exhausted hearing about the unemployment issues, gas prices, jobs going overseas etc…something’s gotta give and give soon.

Retirement? What’s that?

I calculated that I have at the very least 17 delightful more years of employment before I can retire.  My goal was 55 but unfortunately I am under the federal retirement system called the Federal Employee Retirement System (which sucks) or FERS for short. (source)

With that being said IF I retire with less than 30 years of service prior to 62 5% of my retirement pension will be deducted for each year am under the age of 62.

So, as of right now am trying to see about buying back my active duty time and apply it towards my total years of federal service.  If I am able to do that it means I can retire in about 13 to 14 years putting me at the tender age of 58. However, FERS employees only receive 1% of their base pay for each year they are in federal service.  So, 30% really isn’t a lot unless I put a bulk of my paycheck into my Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) and we all know with inflation and this shitty economy that’s not going to happen.

Friends have told me that eventually the pension will go the way of the Do Do Bird, and employees will have to invest instead in some kind of 401k plan.  Now, being a federal employee I am currently in no danger of losing my pension but when I reach 58 or 62 who the hell knows?

Scary to think I’d end up like those Detroit retirees whose pensions were to be frozen.  (source) Sad state of affairs. Perhaps a strong union would help. I feel it’s a travesty to our retirees taking their hard earned money. God only knows what’s in store for my daughter and future grandchildren.  It behooves young people to save NOW for their retirement.  Sock it away in something viable.  Though, when I was in my 20’s I wasn’t too concerned since we seem to think we are all invincible at that age.

If you are a federal employee or interested in becoming employed with the federal government here is some retirement info you can read to see if it’s something you really want to do:

FERS retirement topics:

  • Eligibility – The main eligibility requirements for the common types of retirements.
  • Computation – How your retirement annuity is computed.
  • Creditable Service – Rules showing the civilian and military service that can be used to compute your FERS retirement benefits.
  • Planning and Applying – It’s never too early to start planning for retirement in order to ensure it goes smoothly. Here you will find information to help ensure your retirement starts well.
  • Early Retirement – Explanation of the minimum retirement age and early retirement if your agency under goes a “reduction in force” or you are involuntarily separated other than for cause.
  • Types of Retirement – Learn about the age, service requirements and considerations affecting the various types of retirement.
  • Deferred – If you are a former Federal employee who was covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), you may be eligible for a deferred annuity at age 62 or the Minimum Retirement Age (MRA).
  • Survivors – When a Federal employee dies, monthly or lump sum benefits may be payable to survivors. Learn about these Survivor benefits here.
  • Military Retired Pay – Adding military service to your civilian service
  • Service Credit – Payment to increase your annuity for civilian service when no CSRS retirement deductions were withheld or were refunded or for military service after 1956.
  • Former Employees – Options if you leave your Government job before becoming eligible for retirement.

Federal Employees and Low Morale

Very few of us Federal employees are slackers. Yes, there are some rotten apples in the bunch however the great lot of us work damn hard for our customers, our country.  It galls me to no end when people think we are counterproductive. If they only knew the amount of work we do coupled with low pay they’d rethink their negativity.

According to Federal News Radio, we civil servants continue to receive bad press from not just the government but with the American public as well:

 
…the majority of the 2,880 who responded to the survey said their own morale level was low, and they rated the morale level in their offices even lower.

The top three “morale killers,” according to federal employees, were, in order, pay freezes, ineffective leadership and fed bashing from Congress and the public.

“I like my job but hate the anti-gov worker attitude,” one federal employee wrote. “We work hard. Very few slackers here.”

Another employee agreed. “The public does not perceive my job or my contributions as valuable. Congress views us as expendable.”

Source

We received  less than a 2% raise since 2010. Inflation is a constant at approximately 3% a year.  No wonder we are so frustrated and morale is in the toliet.  You have fast food employees demanding $15 an hour for an unskilled job and those of us who should be paid more are barely able to keep up.

Ok….off my soapbox….for now.

1395273_10202136938045396_506576641_nLeaving the city and rat race behind was something I sorely needed this week.  Hard work week, dealing with the government shut down, lost a reserve paycheck due to the Capital Hill fiasco, coming out to the country with my hubby, Mr. H. was just what the doctor ordered.

 

Growing up in Indiana I was darn lucky to have a pretty decent childhood.  Almost Norman Rockwell in some ways.  I miss living in the country, no sirens, barely any crime, the people there, at least to me, are far more friendlier.  Here in the city everyone and everything is in a rush.  Living in St. Louis you are dealing with crime, poverty, and a population density I never got used to, (especially with traffic.)

Being out there with the hubby, just he and I was every wife’s dream.  We had each other and that was heaven.  Maybe because we’re technically still newlyweds we are still pretty much caught up in each other.  All spouses should be, for the entire marriage.  Keep that love alive.  🙂
All partners should take a trip out to someplace holding little distractions except with each other and simply let the world slip away and make great memories.  ❤

Dealing with the government shutdown

As a federal employee, Army Reservist, and American, these are trying times.  I’ve already lost money because of this B.S. and am at the end of my tether. This posting is a justified rant.

I just love how Congress is trying to pretend they’re heroes; also, not to mention this President shouldn’t be let off lightly, and now we are dealing with the budget crisis…are we going to end up defaulting on our debt not just causing a national crisis but international as well?????

I really do not like discussing politics here in this venue but the stalemate has me more than a just a little upset and worried (understatement).  This mess didn’t happen overnight. And, it also didn’t happen on the watch of any one president, administration or majority. Both sides already spent the money. Not just the Democrats or the Republicans – each party has been contributing to our debt for years.  They have approved spending our hard earn tax $$$$ on whatever cause of the moment they each have had.

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In addition, we Americans should also become more fiscally responsible.  A great lot of us do mirror our government. If you think about how much we spend in our own households compared to what we make in our paychecks we are as much to blame. Also, when you go out and vote for a political candidate MAKE SURE you understand your party’s platform before making a blanket move to vote based on party alone. Become educated and quit living in a bubble!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Operation Bootstrap

I mentioned on Facebook that after watching the biography of Steve Jobs makes me wonder if more Americans had some of his zeal, passion for their jobs, community, whatever…we could lift this country by its bootstraps and move forward in a positive light. I know this country became what it was due to the pioneer spirit and the hard work of our forefathers. Sometimes I think we become to complacent with our lives, material things that we forget how lucky we actually are to live in this great country.

One of my friends made the stark comment if we had the same zeal as we did when Russia was our political enemy perhaps Americans could find motivation to move this country forward. Seems to me with all the political hoopla we are stagnating as a industrialized nation…and it pains me to see this.

Operation Bootstrap was an economic incentive that created very ambitious projects to move Puerto Rico out of a primarily sugar can plantation based society to a more industrialized one.  This concept has also been used in other areas such as Africa which is trying to educate their children by partnering with non-profit agencies to improve literacy and education in general in this continent.  They become the future. And hopefully a bright one.

Though the United States is not floundering it does have some ongoing chronic issues which need to be addressed. Talking these problems out to death isn’t resolving anything. I keep seeing fast food restaurants popping out everywhere in rural America…(and makes me wonder where exactly is this country headed?) Our manufacturing jobs are sent overseas…the cost of living is outrageous which creates a vicious cycle of paying out high wages for blue-collar jobs and white-collar seems to be stagnating.  If not why so many unemployed college graduates?

We need to work together as Americans to bring this country back on its feet. Irregardless of what the politicians are saying this American is a doubting Thomas.

PROVE IT!

Create change!!

The American Dream

People are so busy dreaming the American Dream, fantasizing about what they could be or have a right to be, that they’re all asleep at the switch. Consequently we are living in the Age of Human Error.” Florence King

The American Dream…what can I say about it? I too have aspired to seek out my own white picket fence….a good education, decent job…car and kids.  Though it came later in my life it came.

Just because you live in the USA doesn’t mean everything is going to be handed to you on a sliver platter. You have to work for what you want. Unless you are born with a silver spoon in your mouth (and face it most people here aren’t) you have to develop a skill, talent…something to meet your needs.

There are individuals who dream about this….heads in the clouds.  Then you look at “their reality” and it isn’t pretty.

There are people out there who live day-to-day–no thought of tomorrow. It’s difficult for me to fathom me living in this manner but there are plenty of people who do here, and overseas.

Where you start in life shouldn’t determine how high you climb–albeit depending on the types of skills you have. And with the American Dream in jeopardy with our government borrowing more money from overseas, manufacturing jobs at a loss….well…seems we are in the middle of a nightmare instead.

There’s a new normal for many American families.  The times, well…they are a’changin’

“The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”

–Historian and writer James Truslow Adams in his 1931 book Epic of America.

Economic Crisis

Everyone is being affected by this including my agency. Though we generate our own revenue through casework which is paid for by the Department of Defense, NARA is still facing some economic woes.

From the Archivist David S. Ferriero:

The National Archives and Records Administration—like all non-defense, non-security discretionary–funded federal departments and agencies—has been asked to make significant reductions to its FY 2012 budget request.

Here is the situation:

Our appropriation for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2010, was $469.87 million. The President’s request for us for FY 2011, the fiscal year beginning October 1, is $460.29 million, a 2-percent decrease. So far, action in Congress on FY 2011 requests has not been encouraging, not just for NARA, but across government.

Now we’ve been instructed by OMB to cut an additional $41.7 million in FY 2012 from the FY 2011 request—a 9.1-percent decrease. Also, we have been asked to identify five significant program terminations, reductions, and administrative savings to reduce agency costs.

In addition, we must submit an alternate plan that identifies an additional $23.5 million in cuts, bringing the potential reduction to $65.2 million, or 14.2 percent from the FY 2011 requested level.

Identifying reductions in our budget that total $41.7 million, let alone $65.2 million, will not be easy. We must weigh the cost savings of reducing or eliminating a program or activity against the benefits of each program and activity as they relate to our core missions.

Currently, our cost of living stipend has been frozen at 2009 levels and we won’t be seeing an increase for some time to come.  Because of this I decided to go ahead and put in for another promotion simply to keep up with the $ of living and to further develop myself.

The morale here is low, one of the lowest I have seen in years and it has reflected on the different charity campaigns we have sponsored such as the Marine Corps Toys for Tots and the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC). 

Our incentive monetary awards, bonuses, including a hiring freeze is an indicator of what is going on around the country.  If Congress doesn’t get their act together who knows how deep and how long this crisis will end up being.

People are tightening their belts here at work.  I have contributed to both campaigns but that’s because I feel it’s the right thing to do despite my own issues.

I am learning to reevaluate my budget, to cut out unnecessary spending and take a hard look at my Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) and what my pension will be down the road.  Work hard but work smart, get your act together because who knows when that rainy day will come.

Resources
NARA PERFORMANCE BUDET (2012)

 

A leader must earn the right to lead others

One of the many traits that the military tries to install in soldiers is being able to have the confidence to lead others.

Becoming a leader is a process. Some may think that there are natural born leaders however I don’t feel this is always the case. An individual may have traits that can mold them into becoming one however, it takes a certain amount of experience and yes even mistakes to create a leader and humility to produce a great one.

For many of us in uniform a non-commissioned officer has earned the right to lead others. We embody trust, integrity, honor and selfless-service.  Schooling is a prerequisite in order to understand the various demands of the military. One such school is the Warrior Leadership Course.  This course covers the following topics:

  • Leadership
  • Training Management
  • Map Reading
  • Land Navigation
  • Drill and Ceremony
  • Warfighting

It is taught at an NCO academy and gives solders the opportunity to stand out among others and earn those stripes. Please visit the schools listed below for more information. And GO ARMY!

 

Warrior Leader Course (WLC)

WLC is the first course of many leadership courses in a program called the Noncommissioned Officer Education System (NCOES). Any Soldier who wants to become a Sergeant must attend WLC. Take this opportunity to see the things Soldiers experience in this course.

Basic Noncommissioned Officer Course (BNCOC)

This level of leadership course teaches Soldiers to lead within specific Army jobs. Upon completion, Soldiers will be considered for promotion to Staff Sergeant.

Advanced Noncommissioned Officer Course (ANCOC)

The Advanced Noncommissioned Officer Course (ANCOC) is an Army job-specific course for Sergeants First Class and promotable Staff Sergeants.

First Sergeant Academy

This fast-paced course prepares Sergeants First Class and Master Sergeants for the position of First Sergeant of a company, battery or troop.

Army Sergeants Major Academy

This course is designed for noncommissioned Officers to become senior leaders in the Army.

Command Sergeants Major Academy

This course is designed for Sergeants Major to learn how to lead at the Battalion Command level.