Friday, April 8, 2011

Furious George

So, I had Doritos for lunch today. Not Doritos with lunch. For lunch. That more than anything should clue you in to my state of mind right now.

In case you've been living under a rock, let me fill you in on the situation.

If a budget or temporary stop gap measure isn't passed by both the the house and the senate and signed by the president in the next 1 hour and 14 minutes, the military stops getting paid. It means a lot of other things too, and I'll get to a few, but the main thing to know right now is that as of midnight, our pay stops.

That means that our pay check on the 15th will only be half a pay check. And if congress can't pull it together by the 15th, we will get ZERO pay on May 1st. As in, ZERO.

Sure, we'll eventually get paid retroactively once a budget is passed, but that doesn't pay my rent right now.

So, here's a rundown of how the government is screwing people over:

1. No pay, which I just covered.

2. No death benefits if a soldier gets killed during the shut down. That means the family, who is already not receiving pay, by the way, has to come up with all the expenses for a funeral and burial, which for the military likely includes traveling to another part of the country and transporting the body there as well, out of pocket. You know, the pocket not getting paid.

3. I will have to pay full price for Liam's prescriptions if the government is still shut down on the 22nd. They're not carried at the military pharmacy, and our insurance will not be good at a civilian pharmacy (as in, Walgreen's) during a shut down.

4. Military members will not be authorized leave--not even emergency leave, not even in the case of the death of a spouse, parent or child--during a shut down. You see, paid leave (which is the only kind military can take. Unpaid leave is called being AWOL) is considered a debt to the government, and the government isn't allowed to incur debt during a shut down. Confused? Me too. Isn't the government incurring debt every second of every day?

5. Commissaries (military grocery stores) will be closed. Stateside, that's not a huge deal. Sure, a lot of things are cheaper there (like meat and paper products), but mostly the prices are on par with Wal Mart. It's a bigger deal overseas where it's the only place people can use WIC or often even their debit card. It's also a lot cheaper than a local grocery store. I did hear a rumor that overseas commissaries were going to be deemed essential and remain open. I hope that's the case.

6. Did I mention we won't get paid? Be cause we won't.

7. Government civilians who are "non-essential" are furloughed until a budget is passed. So, like us, they will not get pay. Unlike us, they will not get it retroactively. I was at the commissary buying meat like a hoarder today, and some of the cashiers were crying as they checked people out. One was sobbing, "I won't be able to feed my babies...I won't be able to feed them..." I hope that makes you proud, congress.

8. The military will be expected to continue to work, even though they will not be paid. Congress justifies this by saying that they are still "earning" pay. Congress can suck it.

9. Speaking of congress, they will get paid. As will the president. How convenient.

10. I just saw that this post is now obsolete. A shut down has been avoided. It's only temporary, but only because it will take a few days to draft the actual budget. Crisis averted. Let's see, they only have six months left until the NEXT budget is due.

11. Crap. We're stuck eating tuna noodle casserole for a month now even though we'll get paid.

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