Monday, March 10, 2008

W is for Waste

Trash day in our neighborhood is always a stressful day for me. I live in a middle-upperclass area and the things I see people throw out always makes me so irritated. Especially when people move.

Our neighbors across the street moved last fall and it was absolutely disgraceful the things they threw out. There were bicycles, car seats, a four foot rubber plant - you name it! I just want to shake people like that. The Salvation Army (along with a number of other fine organizations) will come pick this stuff up!

A house around the corner had a full sized Barber's chair in the trash! Why not put it on the curb with a "Free" sign on it? Or have a garage sale? Or have a charity come pick it up and sell it to someone who could use a price break?

The boy across the street walked his bike over and asked if we wanted it. He's 9 so his bike was way too big for our kids and we politely declined. He asked a couple of other neighbors but no dice. I asked his mom if she was going to have a garage sale since they were moving and she snubbed the idea as "too much trouble" but her voice and attitude about it said, "beneath me".

It makes me think of waste on a bigger scale too. Particularly our military. I was in the Army 5 years. 2 of them spent in Germany. Had the time of my life over there! But it always seemed like such a waste. When I was stationed there (from 1992-1994) we had close to 30 bases in Germany. In 2005, they were going to close 11-13 of them but I don't know if they ever did or not. That still leaves around 18 American bases in a country whose entire land mass is about the same as Montana.

I never got a clear answer as to why we needed such a strong presence in Germany. Some tried to tell me it was because of strategic placement. Against what?? Russia, I was told. Seriously? Isn't the cold war long over? Maybe it's what the fall of Russia created? Nuclear weaponry being sold off, the whole Ukraine mess. I don't know. It seemed like a lot of bases for not a lot of solid reasons. The second place I was stationed was Schweinfurt. That translates to Pig Town, btw. Schweinfurt had 2 bases five minutes apart! sigh.

And just like another country we're in, if we were to leave now, there would be a big mess left behind. Several of the towns where these bases are would go in to financial ruin if the base were to leave. Most of the bases are in small towns whose entire economy has become dependent on their dealings with an Army base.

Iraq. I'm not going to get in to the politics of it but let's just touch on the logistics. It costs some 12 billion dollars a day! (Just to put that in to perspective, 1 billions seconds ago was 1959.) If we need to be there, whatever, but can't we cut expenses in other ways?

There's this cook I met at the resort I worked for in Tucson. This guy was an enlisted man in the Navy and stationed in Tucson. I know, I know. Tucson is a land-locked state. The Air Force base there also had a tiny Navy unit assigned to the base. Not sure what they did. I was told they painted missiles. What a sucky job! And why paint them anyway? They're going to be blown up, right? Another merry little military money mystery.

Anyway, this Navy cook was assigned to Tucson. BUT! The chow halls at the base in Tucson were contracted out to civilian companies! So he had no job to do on base. He got a job at the Flying V restaurant at the resort while still being active duty in the Navy. So he's getting full pay and benefits from the Navy while working 40 hours a week in town and getting paid from the resort as well! The guy owned 3 houses (his plus 2 rentals) and was petitioning to stay in Tucson until his retirement 3 years later! When I met him, he'd already been in this sweet position in Tucson for 2 years. WTF?

I'd write to someone but who'd listen?

Still recycling, Ruth!


Anonymous said...

When the Navy closes an air base it is generally taken over by the Air Force. We hear all about the cost savings of shutting down the Navy base but never about how the USAF took it over.

CarrieM said...

The Air Force is one of the biggest money wasters. As is the Army--according to the CNO (Chief of Naval Ops), there are more sailors "boots on the ground" than there are at sea, so we are not operating with all our people, then when the Army HAS enough people to fill the job that a sailor is doing, they still keep their claws in the sailor. So they suck at "people budgeting" as well. Oh. And KBR charges $23 per person per meal at one place I know of. And according to the person I know there? He says the food is not worth $23 per plate per meal. I am sure when you were in they had the same stupid posters that they had when I was in "Report Fraud Waste and Abuse......"

CarrieM said...

Oooo, have you thought about having a garage sale with all your neighbors "trash?" You could probably make enough for a fabulous trip to your LYS!