Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Perspective and Contest

You may have seen news articles or TV reports on the continuing disagreement in Washington over the creation of a federal budget.

It's not exactly new, though it's been in the news. The federal government hasn't had a budget in almost four years. It's been getting by with continuing resolutions (stop-gap funding). 

Sequestration was supposed to be both the carrot and the stick to force all factions in Washington to produce a real budget - "or else."

No one seriously thought there would ever be an "or else" - but, surprise!, "or else" won out.

Sequestration, the "or else," mandated across-the-board reductions in every federal department, program and agency. Norwich is just 12 miles from the Groton Submarine Base, and probably having a neighbor or acquaintance who works there, you may already know about the 1,300 or so Department of Defense civilians who took a 20 percent weekly pay cut starting last Monday. That will continue until the end of September. No one is really sure what happens then.

I'm one of those civilians but I didn't tell you looking for pity. Do us both a favor and don't feel sorry for me, I do an excellent job of that all by myself (and I hate competition). 

Times are tough and we still have our jobs while many other people across the region do not. I think we understand the idea of shared sacrifice. Speaking just for me, a 20 percent pay cut is absolutely no walk in the park, and I do a lot of walking.

Twenty percent less means less cash for goods and services we buy and use every day. While it was feared the belt tightening might impact military readiness and training, it will most certainly affect every business and merchant across the region.

A 20 percent pay cut hurts. But we're grown-ups, and it doesn't hurt as much as a 100 percent cut, especially when the 100 percent getting cut are 3- to 5-years-old.

The Thames Valley Council for Community Action (TVCCA) administered a home-based Head Start program for 60 or so families across New London County,not just here in Norwich but in Griswold, New London, Stonington and Waterford.    

TVCCA had six specialists in early childhood development who worked with children with special needs, developmental difficulties and socialization issues all needing one-on-one educational support before they ever reached a traditional school classroom.

All of that is past tense because the program is history, a victim of an "or else" threat no one ever thought would be used. The disappearance of this small program locally is happening all across our country, crippling the preparation of a generation needing all the help we can give it.

Except we can’t help because we can't get out of our own way, politically and ideologically, long enough to figure out how to work together for the common good and towards common goals. Sometimes the world looks different when fiscal restraints look like your neighbor or are no taller than a four year old. It’s a matter of context and perspective. 
-bill kenny

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