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Today in
S.C.V. History
July 25
1915 - Pioneer Juan Batista Suraco buried in a family graveyard, currently unmarked, in Bouquet Canyon near Benz Road [story]
Suraco family

Now and Then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Sunday, Jul 6, 2014

darrylmanzer_blacktieMost weeks I’ve got six Saturdays and a Sunday. Last week I had only five Saturdays, a holiday and a Sunday. Got to love this “retired life.”

I’m helping an old Hart High School classmate up at his mini-ranch in Acton. He doesn’t have horses, but he has a tractor and a lot of brush to cut down. It is fire season. So I’m back to making fire breaks after a nearly 50-year hiatus.

Only a little over seven acres and there is so much to do. Tomorrow is more of the same. I think I kind of enjoy this work. After years of submarines, being out in the hot sun is a lot better.

There are some things in life you really never forget. Driving a tractor with a skip loader in front and scraper blade box behind. I’m also pushing some dirt around, restoring a minor road washout from what little rain we got last year.

The house and barn sit up on a hill above the area I’m working. You know, the one thing I didn’t have much of on a submarine was long-distance vision. Here I can see the mountains maybe 10 miles away. Love it.

This retired life is pretty good. I hope Buck McKeon likes his retirement. Now, let me see … I served the Navy for 36 years and don’t get anywhere near the same percentage of my base pay that a retired member of Congress gets. He gets 80 percent of what he was making. I’m at 50 percent.

But I guess he didn’t have to spend a couple on months underwater, separated from friends and family. He could see his wife most every night and at least call her during the day. We didn’t get that.

I remember I was excited on one Polaris Deterrent Patrol of 87 days because I got a “Birth Gram” announcing that my oldest son was born, along with four other 20-word family grams.

We could only receive. We couldn’t transmit back. We were on a submarine.

Every law passed by Congress we had to obey – unlike many laws that those self-serving autocrats somehow decided don’t apply to themselves.

One time I heard Rep. McKeon state that he had missed only one July 4th celebration here in the SCV in all his years in Congress. That year he said he saw the celebration on the National Mall in front of the Capitol building, in the rain. That was really rough, I’m sure.

A career member of the military serving 20 years might get a few holidays at home, if he or she is lucky. Family events like birthdays and anniversaries are more often missed than not.

I remember the first time I stayed in port for 13 months in a row. I got to be home for almost every celebration a family could have. Well, at least when I didn’t have the “duty” and had to stay on the boat for 24 hours while in port. I got to do that, one out of every four days.

For that I don’t get 80 percent of my full pay during retirement like a member of Congress.

Did I tell you about the health care plan they get when they retire? Veterans are getting cuts in health care, and retired members of Congress get a gold-plated plan.

Yep, you’ve got to love it. Folks who have never spent the night in a foxhole or a main battle tank in Iraq during the summer, or under the Arctic ice for a month or two, get full pay for retirement. Did we elect royalty?

I don’t care what political party you do or don’t affiliate with. You’ve got to think the “perks” of being in the House or Senate are just a little over the top. Most members of Congress are so out of touch with reality, they think they don’t get paid enough, even after they retire.

Of course we’ll never see them make cuts in their pay and retirement benefits. “They” deserve it. Representing the people is a hard job. Really. They have to be in Washington, D.C., during the hot, humid summers and cold, freezing winters. They have to maintain two homes, one in their district and one near the capital. That doesn’t come cheap. They also get transportation to and from the places and states they represent. Why, if I were a representative from Virginia, Pennsylvania or Maryland, I’d submit a bill stating I get the same amount of travel allowance that the reps from Alaska or Hawaii receive. It is only fair.

No, Mr. McKeon, you’re getting a whole bunch you didn’t work for and don’t deserve, and it isn’t just you. It is each and every member of Congress.

From 1775 until 1781, the citizens of the 13 British colonies in America fought and died to be free from royalty. What the heck – as late as when President Harry Truman left office, even the president didn’t get a retirement check. He did collect Social Security. That was about it.

Now we have folks who act and get paid like the very royal family we once rejected.

I’ll be damned if I’ll bow to any one of them. I’m hard-pressed to shake the hands of any member of Congress or other elected officials of the federal government. It seems too much like I’m being presented to royalty.

So enjoy your retirement, Mr. McKeon. You’ll be making a bunch from your defense contractor friends, too, I’m sure, just so your replacement can buy more hardware that the sailors and soldiers don’t want and don’t need.

Just like the retirement package that Congress gets, so much of what they get the military is just like polishing a road apple. If you don’t know what that is, you might be qualified to serve in Congress.

No matter how you wrap it up with pretty ribbons and give it out, it is still a road apple.


Darryl Manzer grew up in the Pico Canyon oil town of Mentryville in the 1960s and attended Hart High School. After a career in the U.S. Navy he returned to live in the Santa Clarita Valley. He can be reached at dmanzer@scvhistory.com and his commentaries are archived at DManzer.com. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].

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  1. msc545 says:

    Good column, and sadly very true.

  2. kathy says:

    Here’s a novel idea. How about everyone in this country stop getting paid for the job you were hired or elected to do when you stop doing that job. When you no longer work you should no longer get paid. If you were not able to save for that rainy day or retirement to bad for you. I can’t understand how we can have multiple people getting paid for the same job when only one is currently doing the job.

  3. Does this guy have nothing better to do than complain about stuff? Everyone knows that congressmen and senators get way too many perks. Clouds their judgement. However. Buck McKeon has done a good job. Why don’t you write about something good for a change? Instead of just pissing and moaning about everything.

  4. SCV Janie says:

    Kathy, right on.

  5. Rick says:

    Nasty and negative. You made your career choice and so did he. Are you angry with yourself? Entitlement reform is reasonable for all, but not at the classless expense of tearing someone apart who was freely elected by the majority of our residents to serve the Nation. I won’t be reading any of your diatribes in the future.

  6. Bill says:

    Seriously? Has nothing to do with being freely elected. He’s a scammer with all his defense contractor friends and none of the deserve all the perks after working a few days a year. Article was right on.

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