It’s Hard for Me to Figure Out
by James Glaser
June 10, 2019
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I work, and I play a bit, and sometimes I think about life - my life, my family’s lives, and the lives of the people who live in my country.  The working and the playing are easy; it is the thinking that is hard.

I’m a combat veteran, so our country’s wars always interest me.  Thinking about war always hurts because it brings up memories, but it is also frustrating, too.  It’s frustrating because for a long time I could never figure out why we go to war.  For sure we haven’t had a war since that big one, WWII that we fought to protect our nation or our freedom.  Nobody we have attacked has attacked us first.  I don’t remember any of our wars being against a country that threatened to attack us, and I don’t think any of those countries could have attacked us if they had wanted to.

We are the attackers.  You could honestly say we are the war mongers.  At least, we have been for the last 74 years.

How many Americans do you think get a pay check because we have wars going all the time?  For sure it is millions.  Just think about all the ships, planes, tanks, weapon systems, rifles, uniforms, beds, blankets, food, trucks, hospitals, and hundreds, probably thousands of other things our government has to buy that has to be manufactured to keep our military, the most powerful military in the history of the world.  Yes, that is the military we have.

Imagine how our economy would tank if we stopped having wars.  We would have to lay off millions of defense workers all over the country.  But then think of this.  Who would suffer the loss of all the profits made off all that government spending?  Not those workers, that’s for sure.

I think that pretty much explains why we keep attacking other countries, both for the profits and for the jobs.  Yes, we are on a war-time economy and have been for over 79 years, and we don’t know how to get off it

Yep, that is a hard one to think about.

I sometimes think about all the race problems, and now gender problems, we have.  When I was a kid back in Saint Paul in the 1950s, we didn’t have race problems because I lived in Highland Park, and there were only white people living in Highland Park, and as far as I knew, there were only two genders. 

I joined the United States Marine Corps, and we had black guys in our bootcamp platoon. They had just as hard of a time as I did and did every bit as well as I did.  We also had a black drill instructor, Sergeant Garrett.  Sgt. Garrett was probably the most impressive human being I had come in contact with in the first 18 years of my life.  Now five decades later, I could rank him in the top five of all the people I have ever met.  Heck, I named my son after him.  Also, in the Marine Corps there are only two genders, at least when I was in the Corps.

Thinking about women.  Now this one will get me in trouble.  At one time I thought women were smarter than men, but now I don’t think that.  Troubling statement, eh?  Well, women now let men who think they are women compete with them in sporting events and these male women are kicking their asses, and I never hear any women say anything about it.  Yes, I think that is just stupid.

City living verses country living.  I have tried, both and I think living out in the country is the only way to go, especially if you are raising children.  I was raised in the city, but that was over 60 years ago.  Things have changed since then.  My parents could feel good about me running around my neighborhood all day long, even until dark and not be afraid that something bad would happen to me.  Even in grade school we played in the street, stopping our game for the cars to let them by, and then starting our ball game again.

Every family on my block had a car, but very few had two cars.  Only one lady on our block had a, go to work job.  Every other woman had a job, an important job. They were stay at home mothers, and no, I didn’t live in a rich neighborhood.  My dad was a mailman, and my best friend’s dad was a mechanic at a gas station.  And we had a vacation every year where we would go up north and stay at a cabin on a lake, and every fall my dad would go deer hunting.

About the time I went to high school, many of the mothers on the block started working and by the time I got back from Vietnam our street was filled with all the extra cars families needed for two workers in the house.  I thought about this and wondered why.  My dad was a smart man, and he explained that businessmen wanted low wage workers, and women were willing to work for a lot less than men.  So, women expanded the workforce.

Later on, after the vast majority of women were working, corporations started looking for even cheaper labor.  The rich wanted people to clean their houses and tend their lawns.  So, they started bringing people from Mexico to work.

Corporations saw this and started bringing in foreigners to do corporate cleaning and motel/hotel cleaning, and farm labor work switched from Americans to Mexicans because the Americans could get better paying jobs.

I think about things like this, and I figure it all comes down to greed and money.  There weren’t any billionaires when I was young and not that many millionaires either.  But you know what?  Anyone can get rich if they have people who will work for very low wages and no benefits, and that is how many people do get rich. It is also a huge reason why we don’t close our border.  The rich want cheap domestic labor, and the corporations want cheap laborers, too.  Yes, it is called greed, and after a while, those rich people actually believe they are doing good, by abusing the millions of poor people they keep poor.

I also think a lot about gardening and how I wish every child was introduced to it when they were young.  My mother always raised tomatoes when I was growing up, and I still remember planting two apple trees with my dad.  They taught me by example, and to this day I love seeing the things I plant grow.

I live in Madison County Florida.  Madison has just been recognized as the poorest county in Florida.  There are three towns in Madison County, and two of them don’t even have a grocery store.  Every week in the paper’s police report there are several arrested for no driver’s license (habitual) and of course, no insurance.  I think we also have some of the worst public schools in the state, but we were both Football and Basketball State Champions this year, and the baseball team almost made it to the state finals.  Education doesn’t seem to be a priority for the school board or the administration.

Actually, Madison County is a great place to live.  Yes, just like every place else we have people doing drugs, and it seems like a lot of car accidents, but really there is little violent crime and the vast majority of people here are honest, hardworking (low pay) church-going families who love their kids and are right there to help anyone who has a disaster like a house fire or a serious illness.

People who grow too much in their gardens mostly give away what they can’t use and after a storm people are eager to help you if you have a downed tree.

Yes, people here don’t have a lot of money, but you feel good about living here because the people really are good and nice.  If you find a place like that, you don’t want to move, because you know places like that are hard to find.

I try hard to no longer think about our federal Government in Washington.  You have to be rich or willing to sell your soul if you want to get elected to the House, Senate, or President.  I don’t think it matters which political party you belong to, it really is just about power and money.  Nobody leaves office with less money than when they got elected.

I think I have a wonderful life, a wonderful wife and between the two of us we have five fine children all of whom have jobs, and none of them have been in prison.  There are millions of adult Americans who cannot say that.

And you know what? I have a tree house.  Some people have luxury boats or motor homes or some deluxe car or truck, but I have a tree house, and I have birds and animals, who if I am quiet and sit up there and read a book, will let me listen to their conversations and many times will walk by down below showing me their new offspring.  Between that and the things growing on our land, I am quite entertained.  I don’t know exactly what I did, but God has been very good to me.

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