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October 21, 2008

Michelle Obama and the Whiny Culture of Entitlement

Yesterday, emjay asked:

Any thoughts on Politico.com's top story today about Michelle Obama establishing military families as her special cause and the primary focus of her tenure as First Lady if Obama wins?

I believe I have already commented on this subject.

There have been many days when the Editorial Staff might have contemplated slitting our wrists but for the thought that hope is on the way. We hear tell that come the Revolution under an Obama administration affordable, safe and sanitary child care will drop gently from fluffy little clouds, much like manna from the heavens, rescuing arithmetically challenged military spouses everywhere from the tragic realization that after paying for gas, clothing, Longaberger basket binges, lunch, taxes and other expenses their net take home pay asymptotically approaches el numero Zed. This is a gender-sensitive way of saying that when you do the math, working starts to look a lot more like a hobby than a necessity.

In case the Princess was too subtle in her expository remarks, let's try another few whacks with the clue bat.

What do I think about Michelle Obama making military families her pet project? Not much, actually, for the same reasons I don't think much of this.

It all just feeds the whiny culture of entitlement that is taking over this country. Everything is someone else's fault. No one is responsible for their own choices. Adults can actually read posts like the linked one above and not manage to tease out the salient facts:

Reservist Jensen was called up for duty in Kuwait in January, and his pregnant wife chose to move out of state to live with relatives until his deployment ends next fall.

Choice. It's what's for dinner. And this is where it gets *really* interesting:

Over the next few weeks, landscapers will lay sod, install a sprinkler system, and even a flag pole.

Lieutenant Jensen heads to the middle east in two weeks.

I wrote about this situation earlier here. So now we have a few more data points:

1. Jensen apparently bought the property "about a year ago", knowing he had one year to comply with the HOA he knowingly bought into.

2. He was mobilized 5 months ago.

3. His wife CHOSE to vacate their family home, leaving it unoccupied even though the landscaper had defaulted on the landscaping job leaving them in breach of contract with the HOA, and knowing that under their HOA, they cannot rent the property. What did she think was going to happen? Were the Lawn Fairies going to come and take care of the place for the duration of his deployment?

This was not a small yard. It is a 2.5 acre lot. Let me point something out here.

When the Unit and I were first married there was no way in hell we could have afforded that size house and a 2.5 acre lot. If we had purchased one, we would have made certain we had the means to take care of it. When we bought our first house I moved into it all by myself with a 3 year old and and infant. My husband was at Fort Sill. I had no neighbors. None. Whatsoever. I spent the next 3 days lying on our sofa throwing up (migraines are lovely) while my 3 year old massaged Cheerios and brown sugar into our brand new carpets :p

I had no phone. Our road was unpaved. I also had no lawn. I put one in. Miraculously, I survived the experience without FEMA or hugs from Michelle Obama. It never occurred to me that any of this was any different from what many, many other people (including civilian families) experience every single day. In other words, it's just life. Some years are easy, others are challenging but none of this is particularly tragic. We learn from our experiences and in the fullness of time we accumulate a lot of funny stories.

Or we start feeling sorry for ourselves:

Tammy Linton is a 34-year-old Air Force veteran whose husband spent two tours in the Middle East. Despite all her training as an operating room nurse, Linton says her military commanders couldn't supply even basic child care for her 2- and 8-year-old boys. "I'm a registered nurse and got a position on the trauma team and I had to give up that job because I couldn't get child care."

Lady, I have news for you. Civilian wives work too. Do their husband's bosses find them child care?

It is not the responsibility of your husband's commanding officer to get you a babysitter. Get off your rear end and stop complaining. What in the world makes you think you are entitled to a handout from your fellow taxpayers?

Good Lord!

Elaine Guishard's husband is a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy. The mother of two teenagers is also a breast cancer survivor who has no assurances that her healthcare will continue if her husband leaves the service.

Here's another one.

I'm terribly sorry that this woman has had to go through the ordeal of cancer - something that (again) is hardly limited to the military community. But I'm just wondering: how many civilian employers continue to provide free health insurance to their employees once they go on to other jobs?

I'll tell you: none. Zip. Zilch. El numero zed. Again, what makes you so special? D'oh! My bad... it's that oozing sense of entitlement.

Beth Robinson is pregnant, has an 18-month-old toddler and has multiple sclerosis. Her husband, and high school sweetheart, has 13 years in the U.S. Marine Corps. He served in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, and has returned to Iraq twice and Afghanistan once since 2006. Within the next year, he's likely to be deployed again to the Middle East.

Once again, this is really heartbreaking. But why is your husband still doing this? Even more interesting question, if your health is so precarious and your husband has been deployed so much, what in the heck are you doing engaging in back to back pregnancies? This sounds like a self-induced crisis to me. The Naval Hospital supplies free birth control as well as family planning advice.

Yes, I realize this sounds heartless, and I am in no way unsympathetic to your plight. But honestly: is there no recognition here that adults should perhaps take some thought for the circumstances in which they find themselves and adjust their decisions and behavior accordingly?

How much sense does it make, if you know your health is already precarious and your husband is deployed (and deployable) to get pregnant again so soon and then blame the military for your situation?

Michelle Obama doesn't help military wives already dealing with admittedly difficult situations to cope:

To a woman, their struggles focused on housing, healthcare and basic child care -- all topped off with a big dollop of deployment. "I don't think that many Americans that are not in the military understand just what you've laid out," Obama tells the women. "And that's one of the reasons we're doing this. I don't think people understand all that goes into serving the country, and going to war."

"What you're asking for, it isn't extra; it's the basics that you need to survive. And we should be at the point where you're not just talking about survival, you're talking about thriving. We need families that thrive."

That is utter nonsense. Every military family has the basics they need to survive. There isn't one of those examples which cited a "basic need" or "survival". They all involved people making voluntary choices or people facing the same circumstances or challenges faced by civilians. Some are exacerbated by war, but then again (as I'm about to illustrate) in many cases their lives are no more difficult than those of many of their civilian counterparts and in many cases due to the excellent support systems provided by DoD, they are far, far easier.

On Saturday I attended Honor Their Service's last Operation Fresh Air at Leesylvania State Park in Virginia. It's a day of fishing and fun for our wounded vets from Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

I spent quite some time talking with a young man - an Army veteran - about moving from place to place. Like me, he grew up moving all the time.

In fact, he moved far more frequently than I ever did - every single year and sometimes twice a year. The difference is, he was a civilian. He has actually moved less since joining the Army than he ever did as a civilian and he agreed with me that the military provides a robust and comprehensive support system for military families.

There is nothing like that for civilian families like his. But Michelle Obama and Amanda McBreen will tell you that poor military families have to do it all "alone". What a bunch of hogwash.

As a Navy junior and a Marine wife of 29 years, I can testify to the fact that not only do we NOT have to do it alone, but the military of today is light years ahead of what my mother and mother in law had to contend with. With programs like Key Volunteers and Family Services, with oodles of extra pay and benefits that didn't exist when I was a child, being in the military is a piece of cake compared to the days when young officers' wives used to double up in tiny cramped efficiency apartments over noisy bars just to make ends meet. They couldn't afford to own a car or their own washer and dryer. They had no one to turn to when they had a pay or personal problem.

And they would never have dreamed of reneging on a contract or pushing off your responsibilities onto others. Culture can actively encourage industry, virtue and self reliance. It can also, unfortunately, reward self-destructive behaviors which undermine both individual and social well being. It is one of the great paradoxes of human behavior that often, in trying to help people, we unintentionally make things so easy that we obscure the connection between bad decisions and the negative consequences which inevitably result from them. With these painful consequences removed many people never learn from their mistakes - they go on making one bad decision after another and leaving others to foot the bill.

It is hard to see how this kind of "change" represents an improvement. What military spouses - male or female - need most is the tools to deal with the challenges they face.

Military life is not for everyone and the federal government cannot remove the very real trade offs military couples face. If we are at war, some military spouses will deploy frequently. That is a fact. And military families will have to decide how they are going to adjust to this. This is a family decision, not a government one.

It should include the right to leave the military, subject to the agreement signed by the servicemember. The military, like every other employer, must compete in the marketplace for good employees. If it continues to ride its people hard and put them away wet, they will leave. But that's not a bug: it's a feature and it doesn't require the intervention of the federal government.

Or Michelle Obama, for that matter. That's just this Marine wife's take.

Posted by Cassandra at October 21, 2008 07:26 AM

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Comments

Longaburger basket binges? Bwahahahahaha...good grief! I made my own Bungleburger baskets, tankyouvewymuch! I did three Easter baskets. I still have them, and have added two to their number...serially, I kid you not.

Out.Of.The.Park. When the Engineer was in South Korea, right after I'd delivered CLU#2, the doc came into our room (I was an enlisted spouse and Fort Knox was Not Known For Their Enlightened Treatment of Spouses), that I shared with two other ladies, and informed us all that our motrin and prescription for the Pill would be waiting for us when we were 'discharged.' Personally, I didn't need the hormones because well, uh, abstinence/absence is still the best form of birth control and whyinhelk would anyone even consider having another baby after the drug delivery we all had is beyond me.

heh.

Where was Michelle Obama then? Or Oprah, or Sally Jessie Rafael? I lived in my own house in the wilds of Rineyville, mowed my lawn, worked in my garden, and had friends drop in once or twice a month to make sure I was still breathing.

You know. Extended non-family.

Posted by: Cricket at October 21, 2008 11:21 AM

That would be 'drug-free delivery.' That was another Fort Knox specialty.

Posted by: Cricket at October 21, 2008 11:23 AM

Oh, and I shoveled out my own driveway, all 300 feet of it, and dealt very well with the pay issues since we had decided I would stay home with the children until he retired. We were making it on 1600.00 a month. No car payment.
A mortgage and utilities, sending him money, and so on. I canned food out of my garden (that was a great time I will always remember, because it meant that even though I was not an income producer, I was able to stretch our food dollar) and gleaned produce from other friends' gardens.

I had a freezer full of food...a freezer that my mother insisted I buy and egged me on to purchase with my SearsCharge (the only debt other than the mortgage we had), and then sent me the check to cover it, bless her forever.

I still have that freezer and it still works. We were never on stamps, and he was an E-6 at the time. I don't know if my LDS upbringing had anything to do with how we managed to live, but we did quite well. Even the community nurse they sent out to me said that 'the house was spotless, the fridge had adequate food and of excellent variety to insure optimal nutrition for both mother and children.'

Well, duh.

Posted by: Cricket at October 21, 2008 11:31 AM

I'm not disagreeing with you, but I will say there's a fairly constant percentage of military spouses who can't cope with a deployment because they can't cope without one. They can't cope. Period.

The percentage is probably the same in the civilian world. And the Obamas really appeal to these people.

And this is nothing new.

Posted by: Donna B. at October 21, 2008 11:44 AM

I completely agree with you Donna. Whatever your issue is, someone else is always on the hook to fix it :p

Posted by: Cass at October 21, 2008 12:56 PM

It's interesting.

My daughter in law grew up with her stepfather gone all the time. He was a millworker - he was gone for months and months at a time (deployments, anyone?) in other countries, and yet her Mom had to cope.

The office manager in my office - her husband's job involves frequent international travel and long absences. Again, she copes. She had a special needs child. She dealt.

Where was Michelle Obama?

Heh.

Posted by: Cass at October 21, 2008 12:58 PM

Amen to that sister!

I'm beginning to think that at least on certain issues, we view things more alike than not. Scary ain't it?!

I was forever astounded that others were always so impressed that I packed up my house and moved across country, several times, all by my lonesome. Not all the moves were military related, but the bulk of them were. It was me, my two daughters, both under 4 yrs of age, the cat then the dog, in a 20' UHaul pulling the car. Yippee. We had a blast. Made it an adventure for all of us. It's what needed to be done, so I did it. What's the big deal? That's how I still look at it today.

It is remarkable to me how people will ask me how I manage 2 kids, the house, and a full-time job when they find out DH is gone now. "How do you not" is what I usually reply. The house won't clean itself, the mailbox won't get replaced on its own (some moron ran into it and then drove away), the food won't miraculously fill the fridge and pantry, etc. Is it harder to do all those things with DH, of course. Is it impossible? No. And it in no way should be the responsibility of the government, state or federal, to provide it for me.

Sheesh.

Posted by: tankerswife at October 21, 2008 02:20 PM

When we left Germany, the Army had some poor wife dragging four kids across Europe, then the Atlantic, then the USA, all the way to Fort Lewis.
We helped her with the kids. Hey, we didn't have any with us and so we tended them while she got some sleep.

You know. Extended (military) Non-family.

Posted by: Cricket at October 21, 2008 03:39 PM

I'm reading The Three Meter Zone: Common Sense Leadership for NCOs right now, and CSM Pendry refers to these soldiers (and presumably their families) as "welfare soldiers"--people who, for whatever reason, have that incredible sense of entitlement that must be placated at all times. We have one of those in our company, a guy who was constantly running to the IG about his rights and whose wife would call and cuss out the 1SG over the phone for imagined slights.


He's a little famous right now.

Posted by: Sig at October 21, 2008 07:56 PM

It is remarkable to me how people will ask me how I manage 2 kids, the house, and a full-time job when they find out DH is gone now.

Oh, but I thought single mothers were the height of achievement--don't need a man, you know... So, you're actually living the feminist dream while still married. /sarcasm

What do they think widows with children do? Wait for another man to come around before they can be functional and responsible again?

This is just so ridiculous.

Posted by: FbL at October 22, 2008 02:16 AM

> "I'm a registered nurse and got a position on the trauma team and I had to give up that job because I couldn't get child care."

OK, > > > > > I CALL BULLSHIT

Flat out, unmitigated BULL-F***ING-SHIT.

The MEDIAN salary for a first-year nurse in the USA is $21/hr. That goes up substantially depending on the area you live in.

Put in perspective: How many other jobs do YOU know where a 2-year degree, with no experience, gets you a starting wage of 42k?

RNs get paid VERY WELL for the "wonderful" experience of putting up with Doctors' egos.

And "trauma team" is, I believe, a fairly experienced, specialized position. Meaning she's probably making not less than half-again that.

But even at 42k a year, along with whatever her husband is getting, she can't afford daycare?

I repeat: I CALL **BULLSHIT**.

Posted by: Obloodyhell at October 22, 2008 04:25 PM

Of course she can't pay for daycare folks. Not when you are living the Michelle Obama lifestyle.

Check please

Where was Michelle Obama?

Out eating lobster at less expensive places cause she didn't have a political kickback scheme with her husband yet in place?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at October 22, 2008 05:42 PM

But Michelle Obama and Amanda McBreen will tell you that poor military families have to do it all "alone".

Hey, don't knock it, Cass. When she's in power, she will make that a reality. Only by creating a problem can you solve it, Cass, with ease.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at October 22, 2008 05:43 PM

LOL

Posted by: Mark Cohen at September 11, 2009 05:24 AM

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