Public Eye

printed 01/18/2019

Because this is my column and I can write what I want, give or take a few increasingly fashionable but nevertheless unfriendly expressions, I want to take this opportunity to say that having to donate food and money to the Coast Guard to keep its people afloat during this government shutdown makes me angry and ashamed.

Even though the Coast Guard always has been underfunded and overlooked, I never knew until this week how little regard and respect our members of Congress and other federal officials have for this military, yes, military, service.

Obviously, self-interest, blind party loyalty, reelection plans and appealing to political bases is more important than getting the Coast Guard back on the payroll.

It’s as if members of Congress are saying the Coast Guard isn’t real military, so it doesn’t matter. How humiliating that must be for the people who have enlisted and turned their lives over to government because they thought it was an honorable thing to do.

Maybe that wasn’t such a smart move after all, some might be saying now, not when the government fails to recognize your existence or what you do to ensure the existence of others.

But thank you for your service, whoever you are.

In some ways, Congress’s inability to understand the nature of this unforgivable insult might be explained by the fact that 82 percent of its members never served a day in their lives, in anything. So, one might conclude, how would they know?

Equally insulting, however, is the incessant baloney being sliced and fed to the public contending that this fight is about national security. That’s just not so, not when two stalwarts on the front lines of our national security program aren’t being paid.

It isn’t just the Coast Guard whose paychecks aren’t in the mail, the Transportation Security Administration’s airport screeners have been cut off as well. One notable difference between the two, however, is that TSA people can quit. Do that in the Coast Guard and you will be court martialed — a military court martial — and locked up.

Meanwhile, the Treasury Department last week exempted hundreds of furloughed IRS workers and put them back on the payroll, because the Mortgage Bankers Association said its members needed them to process forms for loans.

Don’t get me wrong — I want real estate companies and lenders to be able to work too. Their people also have bills to pay, and they go a long way toward keeping this paper in business. They are essential to me, our staff, and to the resort overall. But the government can pay IRS clerks because the banking lobby asks it to, and we can’t pay the Coast Guard or the TSA because we’re fighting for national security?

And here I thought LSD went out of fashion sometime in the ‘70s.

What Congress is doing just isn’t right. It’s selfish, unprincipled and unpatriotic, at least it is to me.

It’s like a country song, in a way: Congress got the propeller, the Coast Guard got the shaft. And no one, apparently, has the helm.

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