On Saturday President Trump launched our newest aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald Ford, at Norfolk, Virginia. He used the occasion to remind potential enemies about our military might, calling the ship a “100,000-ton message to the world.”

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Donald Trump was born into fabulous wealth; I was born into working class poverty. Yet we have one thing in common: When we were young men we both faced the military draft.

People don’t talk about the draft much these days, but go back a generation or two and it was a crucial point in the lives of all of young men. At age 18, we had to register at local draft boards. After registration working class kids were likely to be called up and had to spend at least two years in the army.

Rich boys, on the other hand, had a host of ways to wiggle out of their military obligation. One way was to stay in college and claim student deferments. When he was a young fellow, Donald Trump had at least five student deferments as he went through college. The Vietnam War was raging at the time and many chaps of his social class developed a hunger for higher education and, of course, the draft deferments. When he finally reported for a physical he carried with him a note from a private doctor that claimed he had bone spurs in one of his heels. He later couldn’t remember which heel (left or right) was so afflicted.

When I took my physical I was with about 100 other guys, all of us naked and shivering. None of us had even heard of notes from private doctors. Donald Trump never served a day in the military. As for me, I joined the Marine Corps and served for three years (1955-1958).

R. Conrad Stein, Norwood Park

Workers deserve decent pay

Working Families and other groups have been fighting hard for a higher minimum wage for workers in the northern suburbs of Chicago, but too many of the Chamber of Commerce/ALEC-backed village boards in Cook County have opted out of even a $10 minimum wage, with the threat that companies will leave if they have to pay such “excessive” wages or even provide any sick days.

Strange, how so many companies had no trouble moving their factories overseas and showing a lack of loyalty to America in order to find the cheapest labor possible overseas, hiding profits from taxes and products from regulations.

Maybe a little should come off the top of the salaries and perks of the executives to pay for even a basic salary for their workers. The average CEO today is making 800 percent more than their lowest-wage earners. It used to be 80 percent.

These groups are hell-bent on destroying the social fabric of our society, because when you keep people poor, you destroy families, increase crime and drug use — and it comes back to haunt all of us. No man is an island — we all suffer.

Sharon Sanders, Northbrook

Any buyer’s remorse yet?

We are learning more and more that the Trump method of governing is simply an extension of the way he ran his business enterprises. There are no rules, there is no manual, there isn’t even an apparent master plan. What’s more, the art of the deal is not negotiation, it’s threats and intimidation.

He acts like a mafia don but instead of inflicting physical violence he resorts to harassment and lawsuits. And while total loyalty is expected from his subordinates, none is offered by the CEO.

The employees, and that includes the American people, are around to serve at the pleasure of the boss — the one with the notoriously short attention span and uneven temperament.

This is what the voters wanted — a different form of leadership from a totally different sort of leader. How’s it working out for you so far? Is there buyer’s remorse yet?

At the six-month marker in his reign of terror, Trump has come up with virtually no legislative accomplishments, he has alienated most of our cherished allies and he has raised the level of distrust in the office of the president while at the same time betraying so many of our basic democratic principles.

For a person not known for hard work or intellectual curiosity, this is no small accomplishment.

Bob Ory, Elgin

 

Our valuable federal workers

Amidst the sundry reports of obvious chaos in the current White House, and the absence of any legislative accomplishments by Congress, the nation is fortunate to have a seasoned federal work force to rely upon for day-to-day operations of the country. Campaign promises to change the government, and “run it like a company,” do not appear to have happened. Changes in Communications Directors are not going to mask the current dysfunction at the top.  There is no conspiratorial “deep state” as is theorized.

The general public expects the government to be operated with some measure of formality, and compliance with uniform, fair and equitable standards. Lost in all the editorials and headlines are the activities of the federal employees in place who manage to get things done absent any consistent policy. Fortunately, federal employees, I believe, have developed a degree of immunity to the negative personal opinions of them voiced by some. Agency missions are being accomplished in accordance with current law, rule, and regulation.

As a reward for the service performed by federal employees, the president and Congress instead looks to cut their pay and diminish their retirement benefits, eliminate collective bargaining, and terminate them without notice or opportunity for appeal. Renewed efforts to outsource functions to the private section are being considered.

Mail is being delivered, passports are issued, laws are enforced, parks are open to visitors, etc., all is normal without direction from political appointees with little or no experience in their assigned areas. For all the attention given to Washington, 85 percent of government operations take place outside of there.

Public safety and security, inherent functions of government, in no measure have been reduced or diminished.

In answer to those who seek to denounce civil service, the federal work force, it should be noted, is not “under investigation” for any potential violations, although those who employees are expected to answer to presently are. Any federal employee who is the subject of an investigation normally has any administrative authority temporarily removed, with their projects re-assigned, or is placed on administrative leave.

Federal employees get their jobs, and advance in the ranks, through a process called merit staffing, and not through political favoritism, and have their performances rated and reviewed annually.

If the president wants to sponsor a “week” to recognize something, it might be a good idea to do so focusing on the accomplishments of the federal work force. Situations like the one we find ourselves in only serve to demonstrate to the public the value of a having a core of experienced employees who are able to perform their functions with little or no direction.

Charles Paidock, secretary-treasurer, Local 739, Chicago,
National Federation of Federal Employees