Words of Advice:

"Never Feel Sorry For Anyone Who Owns an Airplane."-- Tina Marie

If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground
Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It.
" -- Unknown

"There seems to be almost no problem that Congress cannot,
by diligent efforts and careful legislative drafting, make ten times worse.
" -- Me

"What the hell is an `Aluminum Falcon'?" -- Emperor Palpatine

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Military Retirement

The Administration is starting to make noises about cutting the military retirement system. Of course, they aren't the only ones, as there are Republicans, especially Sen. Coburn, who are hostile to the cost of military retirement and veterans benefits.

I cannot tell you how much I feel that the politicians who are voicing these concerns should be horsewhipped.

Military service is not a cushy office job like, say, being one of the wonks in the Office of Management and Budget or the Congressional Budget Office. It's not like being a senior congressional staffer, where the biggest hazard is cirrhosis of the liver from all of the free booze from lobbyists.

Even in peacetime, which is now a distant memory to most, those in the Navy and Marine Corps went on long deployments. If you were a sailor on a ship or an attack sub, you could roughly plan on sleeping in your own bed at home seventy days out of the year. In the Army and the Air Force, there were "unaccompanied tours", which was bureaucratic-speak for going away for a year. Depending on the job specialty, the work could be hard, filthy and often dangerous. And, to be frank about it, the pay, especially for those on their first enlistment, was not great.

The burden on the families from what I wrote in the preceding paragraph is obvious. Less obvious is the impact on frequent changes of duty station. It was a rare spouse who could keep any kind of career going when they had to pick up and move every three or so years. Oh, the services sometimes tried to keep a change of duty station to the same location (so the serviceman would change jobs and commands, but not location) to lessen the burden on the families, but the needs of the service were paramount and if that meant you had to uproot your family and move, away you went.

This isn't the first time that the politicians have wanted to play "fuck over the troops". During the inflation and "stagflation" from the 1970s oil shocks, Presidents Ford and Carter limited all federal pay increases, including military ones, to 5.5%. The purchasing power of the soldiers and sailors, especially the mid-grade enlisted with families, eroded under that bit of White House forced austerity. It was particularly evil then, and it is evil now.

More to the point, we made a promise to the men and women who served. The promise was that if they stayed and made a career out of it, that they would get a decent pension and medical care. Then, when they "retired" after twenty years of active duty and started over in the civilian world, at least they had a base income and medical care as a floor.

If we, as a nation, are unwilling to shoulder the financial burden of caring for our military retirees and veterans, then this is what we should do: Stop making so many veterans by getting into wars. When the shooting starts, there are going to be maimed veterans who will need care for the next eighty years. If that cost is unacceptable to the politicians, then stop sending men and women off to fight. No fighting, no combat veterans to care for-- that should be a simple enough equation for even most politicians to grasp.

If we don't want to pay for so many military retirees, then cut the size of the armed forces and cut back on the global presence that we have had since the end of the Second World War. If, on the other hand, you want to have that global presence, then suck it up and realize that when someone on active duty completes a twenty-year career and retires, you're going to be paying him or her retirement benefits for possibly another sixty years. Shut the fuck up and pay for it.


OldRetiredDude said...

Great post, and so true! If we can't afford the military pensions, then cut the overseas bases and civilian contractor budgets before even thinking about messing with our soldiers retirement!

montag said...

If they can't cut spending on people then they will have to cut spending on weapons programs and that would piss off the Merchants of Death. That's a bigger No-No than cutting pensions.

New York Crank said...

One solution to the problem would be restoration of the draft. When everybody's been in the Army, Congress will find it a little harder to cut their so-called "entitlements."

Conservatives believe in the sanctity of contracts — provided they're not contracts between citizens and the government. Default on a loan contact, such as your credit card charges? They made it harder for you to declare bankruptcy.

But Social Security is a contract. Medicare is a contract. Benefits for veterans are contracts, too. ("Make a career out of living away from your family a lot of the time and risking your butt and I'll always take care of you, baby.) When benefits get cut, that's a default.

Enforce the damn contracts!

Yours very crankily,
The New York Crank
(A post on this same subject of screwing over the military appears on my own blog.)

Ruckus said...

New York. Like the tax code the draft would not fairly make everyone serve. It never has and I'm pretty confident that it never will. Those with pull and money will not serve, just as they do not now. There is the odd case now and again but for the vast majority it is the poor and lower middle class who serve in the draft.
The military will not willingly cut hardware programs. But like all MBA infested organizations they will want to cut any employee costs. And retirement/service benefits make no sense from an MBA perspective, for there is no forward value there. The useful work has been taken from retirees/done with the service types.

Stewart Dean said...

Oh, but the legal requirement of the observance of contracts is just for little people. It doesn't apply to the weasels in government and big business...or to the rich, who are all too often, weasels by definition..

wolfbitch said...

Wait. Aren't these the same Congresspeeps who denigrate Us Librulls for Not Supporting The Troops?

sofa said...

.Gov will be defaulting on many promises. Prepare for it.