I have been watching a repeat of the Ken Burns Series on WWII on out PBS station. One of the things that stuck me the most is the interviews with some of the veterans. With few excetions they say that it is very difficult for them to describe what it was like. That there are really no words that can convey what they felt and saw and experienced. I found this also to be the case with the Vietnam Vets I knew as well. In fact one of the people on this show was a woman who had to live with her mother and father under Japanese occupation in the Philippines. When they finally arrived back in the states after being freed, people would ask what it was like. But when they started to explain their experience, these same people would change the subject. They really did not want to know. It made them far to uncomfortable to hear about it.
I cannot myself imagine what it was like to be in a war. Any war. I have never had that experience. And as more than a few people on the Ken Burns series had said: "You had to be there."
I can imagine what it is like to be poor because I have been there. Where if my brother did not catch any fish, we would not have had dinner. Where we would buy unlabeled cans at the supermarket because they were cheap. Where I and a friend who was in the same condition would split a sandwich we got at the cafeteria for lunch. Where a trip to the beach was a big deal in the summer because we could afford to leave Florida and get out of the heat.
So when I hear of situations like this where the Senate wants to cut programs that are helping those that are down and out, it does bother me but it does not surprise me much.
Siobhan Kolar can't believe that thousands of jobs, including her own with an unemployment advocacy nonprofit called Chicago Jobs with Justice, are on the Senate's, fiscal chopping block.
"They're completely not tuned in and not connected. They're totally out of touch with what's going on," said Kolar, 42, in an interview with Huffpost. Most of Kolar's $14 per hour salary comes from an Emergency Fund created to subsidize jobs through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (formerly known as welfare).
The Emergency Fund, a $5 billion product of the stimulus bill, created some 240,000 jobs in 37 states and is all set to expire on Thursday. The Senate has rejected several opportunities to extend the program for another year at a cost of $1.5 billion -- too much for deficit hawks to spare.
See the people in congress do not really represent us - those of us living on the edge economically -because they have never been there. They have no idea what it's like to live from pay check to pay check. Or not know if your going to be employed tomorrow or wind up loosing your house or whether you can afford to get medical help for you sick child. They don't come from that background. They have never been there.
One of the most popular Senators from Florida was Lawton Chiles who when he rand to the Senate walked from Pensacola to Key West and in the process was able to see and meet a vast number of people in the state. He go to know them as wells as their problems. Not the greatest Senator bay any stretch, but one of the most concerned. Or Bob Graham who would work one day at various jobs.
Bob Graham's campaign trademark was to work a full, eight-hour day at various jobs which represented Florida's constituents. He began his Workdays in 1974, teaching a semester of civics at Miami Carol City Senior High School in Miami while serving in the Florida Senate. At that time, Bob Graham was on the Education Committee. After a speech, M. Sue Riley, an English teacher at Carol City, approached Bob Graham and said, "The only problem with members of the Education Committee is nobody has any experience in education." Bob Graham was taken aback at that assertion and asked, "Well, what can I do about that?" A few months later, Ms. Riley contacted Senator Graham with a proposal to teach the next semester of civics. Following that teaching experience, he performed 99 additional workdays just in time for his 1986 successful campaign for U.S. Senate. Since then, he has completed 386 workdays. Graham has continued doing workdays throughout his tenure as governor and in the United States Senate. His jobs have included service as a police officer, busboy, railroad engineer, construction worker, fisherman, garbageman, factory worker, and teacher. On No. 365, he checked in customers, handled baggage and helped serve passengers on US Airways.
We need to find a way to get people into congress who know what it's like to be something other than a high priced lawyer or doctor or politician. What it's like to be one of us.