You’ve heard me say it before: I’m not a “Safety Nazi” nor am I a “cowboy”. I’m where many of you are; willing to do the job and lay it all on the line when needed, but not willing to sacrifice my life or any of yours for a building we will be turning over to the insurance company tomorrow. However, recent events give me pause and require me to really examine how much I am willing to sacrifice, especially since my sacrifice doesn’t just affect me, but my family, if something happens to me in the line of duty.
Yes, we live in a New World where soldiers are dying or getting maimed defending our nation only to be told that their benefits are being cut, where benefits are being denied to personnel who are now sick after working the Towers or after years of working in fires, and it all causes me to believe we are truly being led by a bunch of total mutts. In this newest bit of selfishness, public servants who sacrifice their lives in the line of duty can rest in peace knowing there are efforts afoot to cut their widows and orphans out of a federal death benefit as well. Yes, as was reported recently on the IAFF blog, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) is proposing the elimination of the Public Safety Officers’ death benefit (PSOB). I have absolutely had it with these "patriots" who say they are looking out for what is best for our country, demanding everyone give a little more and shouting from the rooftops, "We will never forget!", all the while padding their bank accounts with support from special interests, cashing in on insider information and laughing at us as we struggle to make ends meet. The next time I see one of these guys wrapping themselves in our flag, I think I'll freaking puke.
I believe in taking risks when the situation appears to defend those risks and not risking your lives unnecessarily when it doesn’t. That’s about as short of an explanation of my philosophy as I can get. But with the hue and cry about what a burden we are on the public pocketbook, with little or no thanks when one of us commits the ultimate act of bravery, it all makes me wonder if we shouldn’t be taking less risk, since our efforts aren’t appreciated anyway.
Every day it is something else. Staffing is being cut all over, jeopardizing firefighter safety. Many of our brothers are being laid off, furloughed, or having benefits cut. Our pension systems are under constant attack. Funding of national programs like the SAFER and FIRE Act are drops in the bucket compared to the cash cow that the Department of Justice gets to run with, but these funding sources are constantly in danger of being cut. And now, if all that isn't enough, the politicians would like to go after the benefits allocated for our loved ones.
The thanks I get for years of serving others will ultimately be recognized by my Maker, I am confident to say, and as Colonel Nathan Jessup said (before putting his foot deeper into the hole), “I’d rather you said ‘thank you’ and went on your way.” I don't really need the sentiment, the medals, or the honors. I can sleep easy at night knowing I am doing what is right for my fellow man and not ripping him off doing so. But the gloves are off now, as efforts made by individuals to at least secure our loved ones some economic assistance after a LODD are in danger of being eliminated, while bankers, insurance executives, lawyers, and politicians sit fat and happy, bankrolled on the funds they squandered, stole, and misappropriated.
Every day that goes by where we, as public servants, fail to discuss these inequities with our elected officials, is one more reassurance to these people we are complacent sheep and unwilling to muster up the cajones to elect leaders who really do represent us. We need to start cutting off the golden parachutes for these scumbags and make sure that when we suffer, they suffer too. It's easy to call for sacrifice if you aren't sharing the load and frankly, none of these folks look like they're struggling too much.
It's easy to find a scapegoat to take the heat off your own inadequacies and lately, that scapegoat has been the public servant. If the politicians looked a little harder at perhaps cutting some of their own fat benefits, maybe I'd be a little more sympathetic. But with the perks you get from being an elected official, there's just not a lot of belief from me in what these people are selling. If the "public" is so concerned about saving a few shekels that they are willing to cut the PSOB if, God forbid, something were to happen to me while serving, then perhaps I should be a little bit more stingy about whether or not I am willing to lay it ALL on the line for them. There is a reason this benefit was created: to take care of the survivors of those who unselfishly gave their lives for others.
Stand up for yourselves. This is just one more battle to defend what little we get. The individuals making these decisions don’t care about anyone but themselves. Ironically, it’s about time you all began to care a little more about yourselves than about everyone else, or at least to care about the people who have to continue on after you are gone.