Saturday, May 29, 2010

A little pinch

I don't usually post political thoughts on my blog because they can be very polarizing. I did have a post about the last Presidential election, but I took it down shortly after the election. It was just my thoughts and I didn't want it to get in the way of other things I had to say.

I'm noticing a loose parallel, though. You may not feel that this is true, and you might even vehemently disagree with me. But just think about it.

(Disclaimer: I'm writing this quickly and from memory, so if you see any errors please put them in the comments and I will try to fix them later - sorry)

Greece is a country in dire trouble. They have spent themselves into such a hole that the country is in danger of becoming insolvent. So they have asked for help from the European Union and the World Bank. In order to get this help, they are going to have to make some drastic cuts - otherwise other countries would simply be giving Greece more money to continue spending at an unsustainable rate. Kind of like giving someone who is about to go bankrupt money to pay their credit card bills without watching them cut up the credit card.

Some of the most drastic cuts are to government workers. Now, on average (and this is true for many countries) a government worker makes more money and has better benefits than a private industry worker. For instance, there are some government workers in Greece who are paid monthly, but they are paid 14 monthly paychecks a year. So the Greek government tells them that their pay will be cut to 12 monthly paychecks a year (you know, monthly meaning once a month and all). So what do the workers do? They riot and burn down a bank with three people still inside!

Now, no one wants to even go any amount of time without a raise, much less be told that you can keep your job, but only for less money. But murdering people over it?

Now to switch storylines.

In New Jersey, the new Governor is in a massive political fight. New Jersey doesn't have enough money for it's budget. Cuts are being made. One proposed cut was for a one year salary freeze for teachers and freezing aid to schools. Now, any cuts will be met with resistance. And proposing cuts to teachers and education seems like a move only a crazy man would make. But the budget is $2.2 billion short. And the pension fund is $90 billion behind. Something has to change.

Where is the parallel? We have people (who are understandably upset over not getting a raise, possibly losing their jobs, and seeing benefit cuts) jokingly asking God to kill Gov. Christie. Really?

No one wants their job to be the one that is targeted for reduction. But if money is to be saved, it has to be someone's. My concern is that the root issue in both Greece and New Jersey is that we have groups of people who are used to their jobs being protected at any cost. But the cost may simply be too high right now.

I have had to cut employee's hours before because of money issues. I have seen layoffs before. Believe me, those decisions are not easy. But sometimes they are necessary. Teachers in New Jersey get (on average) a 4% raise every year and pay NONE of their own health costs. Are they underpaid? Almost certainly. Do they need to face cuts anyway? Yes.

Let me demonstrate a different attitude for you. There were looming layoffs at a job once. No one knew whose job was going to be eliminated. I saw one lady offer to be laid off instead of the employees who worked for her. I saw a man offer to switch jobs so that his position could be eliminated, but someone wouldn't have to lose a job. Everyone was willing to evaluate their responsibilities to reduce cost so that no one else would go home jobless.

No one used death threats or burned the building down.

Monday, May 10, 2010

What kind of week has it been...


I told my boss the other day that I wouldn't be so stressed out if I only had to deal with one emergency at a time. But life doesn't happen that way, does it?

Almost every workday in the last two weeks has felt like an episode of 24: either an emergency or the consequences of an emergency must be juggled and dealt with as quickly as possible before the situation spirals out of control. But it's not like I could simply drop what I was doing to deal with the new emergency, because I was still resolving the last emergency. All while trying to do the job tasks that have to be done everyday. And training someone, because one of our office has been out very sick the entire time. There would be a point every day where I would simply stare at my desk trying to triage all the tasks that I had to take care of immediately.

It's almost funny now, because the story doesn't end there. All week I fought insomnia. On one particular day, a truck driver decided to call my cellphone at 2:45 in the morning because he couldn't find our facility. Why he didn't call his dispatcher, I don't know. It took everything I had not to tell him off! He said "All they gave me is an address." I wanted to tell him to buy a map. Anyway, I never got back to sleep. So I decided to work a half day, go home at lunch, catch a nap, and live to fight another day. Quite literally 5 minutes before I was planning on leaving someone walked into my office with a huge problem that I needed to handle. I just shook my head.

Days like these offer my worst temptation for questioning God. I'm tired, harried, and using every ounce of mental effort I own to just keep my head above water. I want to ask why God couldn't space things out just a bit; after all, some days I'm really not busy at all. Is it too much to ask for one fire to fight at a time?

I managed to sneak away for just a couple minutes to grab lunch before jumping back into the fray. And that's when I got a phone call. One of my best friends called just too say that he had been praying for me but wanted to know if he could pray for something in particular. That's why I don't believe in coincidences. That timing is just too perfect. I think I was at the end of my rope. I was really ready to just let God have it when He extended a hand.

I told my friend a few days later that he saved my week. It's not like my week got any better. He just helped me with some perspective. And the realization that someone else is praying for you is powerful.

I would encourage you to pray for your friends. Pray often. And occasionally let them know about it. It can't hurt. Drop them a card, send a text, call them and tell them that you are thinking about them and prayed to God for them today. Isn't that what family is all about?