A Very Open Fucking Letter………….

Fuck-you

Dear Active Duty Military, Retired Military, and Military Veterans Benefits Haters  —

We’ve been having a rough go of it lately, haven’t we?  There you are, a civilian, absofuckinglutely convinced that the average service member in the United States Military is not worth his weight in pay and benefits.  And here I , a United States Air Force disabled veteran, wondering how we got to this fucking point and why you are so fucking uneducated about the value of the the United States military. Let me be the first to tell you, fuck off and fuck you.

I think the problem may be that you are more than a little fucking confused. You’re there, sitting on your civilian sofa in your civilian house in the town of your choice after coming home from your civilian 9-5 job. You are feeling a little annoyed by the crazy awesome salaries that servicemembers and military retirees score because, in comparison, yours aren’t that amazing. So, now your fucking pissed our taxes are paying for us to have this fabulous fucking lifestyle. You are disgusted by our very existence which is supported by the American tax payers

You proclaim our benefits, the things we get in exchange for the willingness to die for America is overly lavish.

Don’t get me wrong, I put my benefits to use regularly, doing crazy shit like buying food and paying fucking bills. But I would live without the benefits just fine, making life happen other ways. If it comes down to bullets or your fucking BMW, I’d go with the bullets any day.

What bothers me about you military hating motherfuckers writing stories, posting stupid shit on social media, and your appearances on television spewing your bullshit is your fucked up tone.

Servicemembers, retirees, veterans, and their families, the tone says, are acting like privileged brats for expecting, accepting and clinging to the benefits which encourage them to stay military or even to join in the first place.

In fact, the tone says, it is a waste of tax payer money to meet military personnel needs or even give nice-to-haves in exchange for keeping them around to call upon at your every whim.

Servicemembers are overpaid, coddled low-skill workers who should not be given compensation for the inconveniences of military life, but who should still be expected to do their jobs while risking their lives for yours.

It’s a tone that says if you had to join the military to make it through life you are, logically, a substandard American worker and you do not warrant compensation in excess or even equal to the civilian market. Civilians are people who have choices and didn’t take the easy out of Uncle Sam. Military are people who are living off the tax payer.

The tone is supported by the flinging of inaccurate statistics to support your claims or, worse, the promotion sof weeping generalities about who servicemembers are and what they deserve.

Bad Statistics and Comparisons

Here’s this gem I read not too terribly long ago, pissed me off then,  pisses me off now.

“Over the past decade, military salaries have grown at a faster rate than those of civilian workers. The average enlisted soldier now earns more than 90 percent of Americans who have less than two years of college. Most captains – the third-most-junior rank of officer – will take home more than $90,000 this year.”

I’m going to disregard that ridiculous first sentence that ignores the fact that we also have been paid for deployment after deployment and all the tolls of war. Let’s just focus on the compensation “facts.”

Only one in seven Americans is even in good enough physical shape to join the United States military. That means that to be the “average enlisted soldier”a recruit already had to do something most Americans can’t fucking do, be somewhat fit. A whole other group of Americans is ineligible because they didn’t graduate high school or because they have a criminal record. A recruit also had to be willing to join the military, which puts him in a group with less than one percent (1%) of Americans.

After he joins that soldier then holds a more than full time job, often over 80 hours a week, for which he must continue to meet requirements such as staying fit, drug free, and felony free. He very likely does an intricate task that no average American with less than two years of college could do without months of dedication and training. He probably has also spent more than nine full months multiple times away from his family working around the clock where he put his fucking life on the line and accepted the continuing burdens of war as part of the gig. He’s likely to have held this same job for around five or six years.

Why is it so fucking unreasonable that this soldier make more than 90 percent of Americans who have less than two years of college? And how is that a good group of people to compare him to at all?

Military officers are compensated at a higher rate based on education and responsibility, at least in theory. While a captain may make more than $90,000 before taxes in a very high housing allowance area such as D.C., the average captain certainly does not. A little math reveals that a captain with seven years of experience living in San Antonio, Texas with dependents, for example, makes about $76,000 before taxes. But a breakdown of average hours worked during a year in which he does not deploy shows that he earns around $21 an hour.

And no matter how you shake it out, nobody in the military, retired, or a veteran, are making a whole hell of a lot after taxes.

In 2014 the average male graduate just out of college earned about $22 an hour. After graduating college and spending seven years on the job with countless additional months in training, a military captain is making about $21 an hour for putting his life on the line, being willing to live wherever the military sends him and leave his family for months at a time. He also has met all the qualifications of the “average enlisted soldier” that made that person valuable including, again, an interest in joining the military to start with.

As America rolled into sequestration and other budget cuts, DoD leaders decried the high cost of military personnel. After all, they said, supporting current and former military members takes up a third of the DoD budget.  And with the DoD budget as a whole taking up the biggest single slice of the federal budget besides Social Security, something surely must be done.

But what they fucking fail to note is that military personnel costs really aren’t that ridiculous when compared to the normal market. In civilian companies with big air fleets (the closest one can get to a military comparison), personnel costs hover at similar levels.

For the United Parcel Service, for example, personnel costs make up 61 percent of the budget. For FedEx, it’s 43 percent. For Southwest Airlines – generally recognized as among the most cost-efficient air carriers – personnel costs comprise 31 percent of operating revenue (which includes profit, so the percentage of expenditures is higher).

The idea that the Defense Budget is so out of control is also so very fucking misleading, particularly when you look to past trends.

If military pay and benefits are so great, where in the fuck are you?

But here’s the thing that really gets me.

If the pay and benefits for members of the American military are so lavish and such a steal of a deal, where are you, Benefits Hater?

Because that’s the thing that’s so great about the American military. You don’t have to be special or an elitist to hang out with us. You just have to meet the requirements and be willing to run while wearing boots while defending The United States Constitution.

This isn’t some exclusive club. We like all types of people. We’re fucking cool like that.

So perhaps you don’t join because you can’t meet the qualifications that us low-skill, not worthy of benefits folks met.

Or maybe you just love your freedoms and hate danger. Maybe you like picking where you live. Maybe your spouse has a career she doesn’t want to destroy by moving every three years. Maybe you don’t want to risk getting blown up in the street while driving through a far away land.

Those freedoms? We give you those motherfucking freedoms and make damn sure, all day and all night, sure you keep them.

Try remembering that and then see how you feel about the United States military, retired military, veterans, and all the benefits and pay we should live without.

Sincerely,

Steven (aka Scorpion Sting, United States Air Force disabled veteran)

 

Our Jobs As Teenagers

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My 17 y/o daughter and I had an interesting conversation over the holiday break which sparked my daughter’s interest into looking at what other teens make per hour at their part-time jobs. I tried to explain to her that she was very lucky making $10 per hour as well as only having to work 20 hours a week. She is actually pretty damn lucky because her part-time job is working at the church daycare as a teacher’s aide. She has had this job for a little over a year and half. She has never had to work at a fast food place or a place of retail so she knows nothing about how it actually is in a real marketplace for employment. She is lucky in other ways as well, like every bit of the money she earns is only earmarked for things she wishes to spend it on. She has no bills with the exception of putting fuel in her truck. In my opinion, knowing how I grew up, she is extremely lucky she can spend her paychecks as she pleases. She is smart with her money to a degree, she always puts some away in her saving account. She has a hard time comprehending that “most” teens her age with a part-time job are only making $7.25 per hour and work in less than ideal conditions sometimes.

She says I was lucky as I explained to her what I did for money when I was a teen. I made what I thought was decent money at the time back in 1983 because that is when I really started getting paid. I worked with my dad who was a concrete contractor for many years before for basically spending money but never anything to save. I learned many skills working with him that I still value to this day. I was never afraid to bust my ass working in the Houston heat & humidity and not see a dime for my efforts. When I needed money all I had to do is ask, well, most of the time. As the summer between 8th and 9th grade approached I had already obtained my driver’s license, I already had a truck (rebuilt from parts from the junkyard where I found it), I was dating, and all I needed was a part-time job to pay for all the things I wanted to do. Back in 1983 the state minimum wage was $3.35 or something like that per hour. Where I lived teens had a limited choice to part-time employment like working at a fast food place, the theatre (an old singleplex), the car wash, a grocery store, or out on the farms and ranches. My dad offered up $700.00 per month cash (over the summer) to keep working with him and when school started back up it was going to be $350.00 a month cash. Doesn’t seem like much by todays prices, but back then the money would last me a long time. So, no, I never had to go get a minimum wage job while in high school.

The conversation evolved back to today and the struggles over the minimum wages at fast food places. This is where I was told my asshole side came out to play. My daughter wanted to agree with the fight, the fight to change paying employees at least $15.00 to flip burgers, get my order wrong, and waste my damn time. Oh, wait, the money paid isn’t supposed to reflect the quality of service you receive now is it. More money does not mean the skill level and caring just went up. I think it’s a joke. And, no, I don’t know the struggles of the people working in that industry or any other for that matter. Plus, I’m not a fast food eater, mostly because I hate paying for shitty service, shitty attitude, and shitty food. No, you may not argue that everything would be better if these poor mistreated people made more money. You’ll never be able to convince me that paying $15.00 per hour will make the fast food experience better for the customer, and if you believe that bullshit it might be time to re-evaluate your past dining experiences. People, in general, want everything handed to them while they provide little or no effort. Why no, right? Society has been moving in this direction for many years, right? We are victims of our own bullshit, right? Wrong! Get a job, work your ass off, work your way up, try harder than the next person, and stamp out your place in this fucking society as a person that has something to offer back besides an open hand waiting for something to dropped into it. What ever happened to “earning a living” or “working hard” or “getting a job”? They don’t exist, people just sit on the couch and wait for the government check.

I sound a little bitter don’t I? Or do I? Don’t mistake my honesty about all of this for being bitter, just consider that I’m real tired of all the people who complain but are not willing to get a damn job and when they get a job for unskilled labor they complain that they are not paid enough. I can speak for where I live locally and the teens don’t want to work. The ones that do are not doing it for weekend cash they are doing it to help support their household. Those who aren’t teens, what should they be paid? Good question since working at a fast food place is still considered being unskilled labor. I don’t know anymore, it seems, at least on the surface, that the debate will continue about minimum wage, especially in the fast food industry. I guess people are no longer happy with the opportunity to merely have a job and unfortunately in our society there is an actual need for an unskilled labor force. If people want better for themselves then they need to better prepare themselves to be in a different job market that earns more money, not ask it to be handed to them like it is today in the here and now.

So, what should be the wages, the limitations, and the requirements? Hell, I’m in my mid-40s and had to have a second full-time job to make ends meet, and that is with a wife who is employed full-time. I didn’t know all I needed to do was whine a little and it would all be handed to me with no effort on my part. This is the world we live in, everything isn’t equal and nor should it be equal because we all don’t offer equal qualifications and/or work ethics. Be assured that the government will be forced to increase the minimum wage because of all the political pressure that is currently being applied. And, sadly, when the enablers get their way, we as a society, will once again take a few steps backwards. Where does the extra money come from? The consumer will be having the wage increase passed on to him/her through everything they purchase which is soon going to mean that what I make an hour won’t be enough, according to the same standards. Yea, I know, I can speak until I’m blue in the face and still get told I have absolutely no argument. Well, this has been my opinion and I think it will be a giant mistake and the people being served at the local fast food restaurant and at other places which use unskilled labor will soon be seeing a cost increase because the labor still has to be paid for by employers.

Where do we go from here? In my personal opinion, I think that this will just be another nail in the coffin for any business, large or small, here in the United States. Many places already operate on a shoestring budget just to keep the doors open and make some profit after paying the bills. Your right, fuck ’em. Why should I care what people are getting paid. Part of me thinks about the amount of blood, sweat, and tears it took me to get where I am at today. Part of me dislikes it when anything is just handed over to those who are not willing to earn it. I was raised different from that, I was raised in a manner that made me realize I needed to be able to provide something in exchange for compensation. I raise my own children the same way and not look for the free ride. Hopefully I’m alone in the way I raise my kids because if so then this next generation of people entering the workforce are truly fucked. I wonder what would be dropped in my open hand being a white male, 45, skilled, educated, and currently employed. Anything extra for me? I didn’t think so. But I already knew this fact. Anyway, as a society in the United States, we keep throwing money into the burning caldron, before long the people like myself that actually have to earn a living will be out of money and there will be no help, there will be only dust in the bankrupt coffers. Too melodramatic?

I never wanted to be a millionaire, I still don’t want to be a millionaire, and I doubt I will ever want to be a millionaire. Why? I like my life and the people in it. We work hard for what we earn and live a lifestyle which has been great for all of us, all too much money will do is corrupt what we consider to be perfect. Y’all may think one’s life revolves around money, I used to think the same way, but when you have nothing it always brings a smile to your face when you can put a little aside for a rainy day. I’m not saying the minimum wage is accurate, but I’m not the judge of that either, and it is called “minimum” for a reason. The only place people can go when they are on the bottom is up, many people acknowledge that the journey will be long and hard, others prefer to demand something without offering anything more in return. As much as we would all like to think we are worth our weight in gold, the reality is that if we were then we would no longer have value. I’ll leave it up to y’all because y’all should make your own decisions based on your individual opinions. The minimum wage is out of the hands of the “people” and will always be decided by politicians who take only their status into consideration. Fuck it, roll the dice. I hope everyone gets what they are expecting.

holdingMoney

Mysteries, Enigmas, Cubicles, And Puzzles

The latest submission to The Magic Weekend is about a young professional man who spends his days in an office cubicle and his nights doing whatever comes to mind for his mood. His actual story does not have even one of the five criteria for being here on The Magic Weekend, there is no Sex, no Jail, no Blood, no Money, and no Fame. So why am I adding this e-mail to the collection of my stories? That will be a question that you must answer for yourselves after you read and digest the information provided. Personally, I think that Robert believes that if he gets his story out there that he may finally see and end or a beginning to something in his future. You see, his story is one of covert lust that, to date, has not been resolved and he hopes that by walking us through his story that it will help him look for clues he has yet to discover. As always, I try to provide as many pictures as I can. This is one of those cases that I can only provide the two pictures you see as the other 30 some odd pictures are just a wee bit racy. I’m not in the habit of censoring what people read or see but I would like to keep my blog somewhere in the PG rating. With no more from me, let’s get on with Robert’s torrid little story.

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“Hello, my name is Robert and I have a truly bizarre story for you today. My story actually takes much longer than a mere weekend, it has gone on for right at 4 weeks now. I’m sending you a mess of pictures in the order that I received them to better illustrate what has been happening. Where do I begin. How about a little background of what I do for a living as well as how I spent my time away from work. If you look through the pictures you will see one or two showing a gaggle of cubicles. That is my work environment. This is where I sit for basically 10 hours a day, cut off from the world below me and from any outside contact with other human beings. The job is real monotonous but it pays my bills leaving me with enough money to still enjoy my life here in Houston. I’m not from Houston, I’m actually a transplant who was chasing the all American dream of having a good career and making a good salary. I grew up and went to college at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), graduating with my degree in Kinesiology. When it came time for job placement I was put on to information about a company in Houston that specializes in the design, concept, and implementation of biomechanics and orthopedics. When I accepted the job offer it was at the bottom tier of the career path. I figured I had to start somewhere, why not doing research, analysis, and comparison. Translation, I read and I read and I read. Then I get to provide my information for statistical analysis which is used for approach and further investigation. Sounds complicated, but it’s really not too bad. How does this play into everything? It has everything to do with it. My social life and work life does not overlap, meaning that I have work friends and I have friends outside work, the two never cross that line. In over a year of being with this company I can think of only one other text I received while I was at work and that was from my mother wishing me a great first day of work. Which, would have been a real push of enthusiasm for me it had actually been on my first day and not eleven days into it. I know she meant well. Anyway, right at four weeks ago I get a text from a number I don’t recognize. It’s a local number so I figure I will look at it and see what is up. When I opened it up I had to look around to see if anyone saw me looking at the picture of the girl which was being displayed. The text read “I’ve been watching you and have noticed that you have not noticed me yet”. Slowly I peek out over the top of my cubicle to look around, to see if I could see anyone looking at me that looked like this girl. I got nothing. It actually ruined my whole day because I couldn’t stop trying to figure out who she was. Not real good for productivity. It is what it is though. I ended up taking work home with me because of the entire day being a bust.

The next day about the same time in the morning I get another text from this mysterious creature. By now I think she is really trying to get my attention because that picture was a bit more exposing. Thinking to myself I don’t want to get any further behind or get fired I put my phone away and got back into getting my work done. Lunch rolled around, we get a whole 30 minutes which usually leads to most people just bringing their lunch and eating in the lunch room. On that day I decided to go to the atrium area of our building to get away from my other distractions and have a few minutes to try to figure out who this girl was and what she wanted. I keep thinking she is sending these pictures to the wrong person and that I am not the intended target of her affections. Don’t get me wrong, the attention is nice, even if it isn’t for me. It can’t be for me or can it. This continued every following day. Everyday I paid attention to who was around me no matter where I was at. Thursday nights is when my friends and I get together and usually go see a new movie and then go to a local bar to shoot darts and have a few beers. I found myself getting real paranoid because I could not figure out who she was. After about 4 weeks the pictures started becoming quite explicit, to say that I was getting to see a new side of her each day would be a complete understatement to say the least. The last picture I got of her was impressive, she is quite limber and acrobatic, it was sent with this message which haunts me still to this day. It read “I’m sorry you haven’t figured out who I am in your life. Be at the Red Lion Pub tonight at 10pm. look for me and you will see me”. Really? I couldn’t believe what I was reading.

I went home after work in quite a hurry. I needed a shower and to get dressed. I felt like a girl getting asked out on a first date. I don’t have allot of leisurewear as most of my wardrobe is casual business attire. I mixed and matched and finally thought I had it figured out. Then, I was done, walking out the door. I wanted to get there early and do a little situational observation. In reality I wanted to check the place out and see which one of my jackass friends was going to jump out and say “Gotcha!”. What I got was a fistful of mass disappointment and despair. I sat there until the placed closed down. Well, I actually didn’t just sit in one spot, I would walk around, sit at a new spot, walk around, and so forth, all night long. She never showed up. For some reason I didn’t include this in the options of what could happen that evening. She didn’t show, it was plain and simple. Did she get cold feet. Right about closing I decided to text her and ask her where she was and if she forgot about our meeting. There was no reply. I called her, my call went straight to voicemail. I left her the voicemail message of “sorry I missed you tonight, maybe another time”. I collected my belongings and hailed a taxi to take me back home. I waited for a call or a text, any sign that I wasn’t crazy and that she had a great reason or no reason for standing me up. Nothing. That nothing is what continued from that point forward. I waited like a love struck puppy for an entire week for something, anything from her. At the end of the week I called her one last time and was answered with a recorded message telling me that the number I was trying to reach is not available. Did she change her number? Was the other one disconnected? I will never know since I never even knew her name. So, back to my life, back to the cubicle, I will always have more questions than answers, it will always be a mystery to me who she would be to me, I feel a bit heartbroken but know it wasn’t all real. I mean, it happened, but it didn’t actually mean anything. Now, I have some very enigmatic memories of a nameless girl who was very talented. I won’t ever solve this puzzle, but if I do I will be sure to update you.

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Can y’all see now why I included this as a Magic Weekend submission. There was the promise of something from someone. The story intrigued me enough that I found myself feeling bad for this guy. I found myself wanting to reach out to help him. Therefore, I included his story here. Makes me wonder though, was she just screwing with him? Was he the intended recipient of all those texts? Is this that has been lost to ever be found ever again? Answers I will probably never know. I hope y’all enjoyed Robert’s story. I look forward to all the submissions I get to the Magic Weekend. Just e-mail them to me. What did your weekend involve? Sex? Jail? Blood? Monet? Or Fame? Send me your story now and see it here in the very near future. Thanks for stopping by and I look forward to your many returns.