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Saturday, February 23 , 2019, 2:15 pm | A Few Clouds 58º


Ken Williams: No Rest for the Weary, Unless You’re an Elected Politician

It’s good to see Congress retire for a five-week vacation. After all, passing 22 bills since the first of the year must be taxing. God forbid that bills that would help create well-paying jobs should be passed. I’m sure that millions of our unemployed neighbors are heartwarmed by this avalanche of concern. As I am equally convinced that the bankers, investors and other criminal elements who threw this country and other parts of the world into the worst recession since the 1930s are grateful. After all, it would be tragic if any of these men — and mostly men they are — would face persecutory consequences for throwing millions out of work.

It’s nice that these men were able to walk with millions of dollars in profits, incentives and other benefits when they played Russian roulette with the welfare of American workers. I am sure that these gentlemen are grateful that Congress bypassed their nefarious dealing to take a much-needed break without bringing them to justice.

Millions lost their homes. Think of how devastating that is. Dream homes — homes where families were raised — now in the possession of banks. Imagine working hard for years if not decades, to buy the American Dream, only to lose it due to derivatives, toxic loans and just plain greed. How would you feel if the home that was to be your financial anchor in retirement, was cruelly torn from your grasp? How many died due to the stress and heartache of believing in the American Dream? How many thousands? Instead of enjoying their golden years, these economic refugees now flip burgers for minimum wage, and look over their shoulders at the fear of homelessness in their old age.

And why should those in Congress worry about the ongoing war in Afghanistan? After all, the war in Iraq turned out so well. More than 1,000 Iraqis died last month, while the insanity of sectarian violence ripped their country apart. And the fact that al-Qaeda in Iraq continues to go on with its murderous jihad when there was no al-Qaeda in Iraq before President George W. Bush’s invasion, speaks volumes as to the success of needless war.

Perhaps vacationing senators and Congress members can hold town hall meetings with veterans and explain to them how their disability claims can take years to judicate. Who knows how many veterans will die pending their cases' approval, saving the government millions of dollars. Brilliant! Machiavellian! It is political science and economics at its best thanks to congressional inaction. Maybe homeless veterans should be grateful that they could use their survival training by living on the streets.

A grateful nation honors veterans and active service members by witnessing ever-increasing suicides. Personally, I cringe whenever someone finds out that I’m a Vietnam veteran. Usually the first thing from their mouths is they knew someone who served. They then go on to say that person is dead, severely disabled by either mental or physical wounds, or the good old standby: Agent Orange.

This was driven home last week. At the gym, a man recognized my tattoo as including a Vietnamese. In a stream of consciousness highlighting his loss of impulse control, he told me of his Agent Orange-induced heart attack that led to brain damage, and of how his friend lost his eyesight to Agent Orange before dying of the chemically linked cancer. Agent Orange — The chemical that keeps giving. War is the old standby for the good old boys in Washington, who need to distract the home folks from domestic problems.

I can see with all the problems lying around unattended why our overworked leaders need a vacation. I hope you enjoy it. And please don’t let the sight of an elderly person digging in a trash can for breakfast disturb you. And by all means, don’t let the sound of tapes at the funeral of an Afghan vet interfere with your two martini lunch. After all, high-rolling lobbyists are waiting with promises of million-dollar careers when the pressures of meeting the needs of the people become too hard to handle. Aloha!

Ken Williams has been a social worker for the homeless for the past 30 years, and is the author of China White, Shattered Dreams: A Story of the Streets and his first nonfiction book, There Must Be Honor. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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