San Juan Mountains

San Juan Mountains
San Juan Mountains: Grenadier Range

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Do Veterans Get Too Many Benefits?

On April 3, 2014 I wrote a piece for this blog entitled "Veterans Behave Like Spoiled Brats."  That post can be found here.  In the last couple of weeks, to my complete shock and surprise, two different people have commented on that post.  I am not surprised that people would comment on a blog post that takes veterans to task for behaving poorly.  Veterans are a sacrosanct class of people in the Socialist Democracy of Amerika and anyone who does not adore them is fair game for harsh criticism.  What surprised me is that two people I do not know actually read my blog!  I thought I only had about ten regular readers, all of whom I know personally, and rarely do I get anyone coming to my blog who is not a regular.
The second comment on that post was from an affable fellow by the name of Chet.  I wonder if he is related to Chet Atkins?  I was a big fan of Chet Atkins as a youth.  At any rate, Chet is a kindly soul with interesting things to say.  In fact, his second comment to that post was so interesting I decided to dedicate today's post to my response.  Chet takes exception to my belief that veterans are receiving far too many benefits.  But don't take my word for it.  Here is Chet's argument as extracted from the comments section of the above post:
"After giving this some thought for a few days I thought I would give my rebuttal to this. First, I want to go ahead and make a disclaimer that if you feel there is no need to have a standing army for any reason than we will have to hit the wedge right there and agree to disagree. Now, with that being said, if you feel that a organized standing army is necessary to protect America's interest then I believe there are a couple of ways to accomplish this. I do not believe you could ever raise an army in this day and age with pure volunteering. To ask society to volunteer your life for a country who will offer no incentives other than a base pay during service, and no benefits post service would be a very hard sale. You will either adopt a Israel type system where everyone must enlist for a minimum of 2 years, or you will have to intrigue society to volunteer with incentives for serving. If you are going to continue with an AVF then expect your volunteers to want the government to uphold their end of the agreement as all people would hope for from both parties. If you say, 'the government doesn't owe you benefits' and that is the way it was, I doubt we would have the military force that we do, or if we would even be a world superpower as we are now. I understand you may not agree with having this status in world politics but I would much rather be where we are now rather than places like south America, or Africa to give a few examples. I completely understand your feelings on involvement with foreign affairs, but this argument about an agreement made between the Federal Government and its service members. If you say the government needs to offer less or nothing at all then that is a position you are absolutely entitled to hold. I may disagree with the consequences that would be rewarded with that position, but regardless a contract was signed, incentives were agreed to be provided given the veteran meets the criteria, and the Government should do everything possible to honor and be accountable to the commitments made just as the veteran held on his/her end. I applaud your honesty and respect your boldness to present an argument that could receive some very crude backlash. I only hope my argument can shed some light on the position of the Veteran."
Please allow me to comment upon each of the points Chet makes in his reply to my post.   Chet begins with the disclaimer that if I do not believe in the necessity for a standing army there is really not much for us to discuss.  I have not given much thought to the idea of a standing army.  One young fellow that I know has argued that a standing army is unnecessary and I found his arguments persuasive but, other than that, I have not thought much about it.  Chet has forced me to think about it some more.  It seems to me that a standing army is absolutely necessary to preserve the Amerikan Empire.  The SDA military has far too many sticks in the fire to not keep millions of people on the payroll.  But that, it seems to me, is precisely the point.  Since I believe the founding fathers intended for this country to resist the urge to become an empire I also think they believed that a militia should be sufficient to defend the geo-political area known as America.  If we are to be an empire, and we are the most powerful empire the world has ever seen, then a standing army is an absolute necessity.  On the other hand, if we are to simply defend our own lives, freedom and property from foreign aggression I believe the size of the military forces could be reduced dramatically.  As the aforementioned young fellow I know argued, professional soldiers could be employed full time by the State to train and lead the militia if the time came to defend the country.  There would also be a place for military technologists who specialize in using technology to create defensive weapons.  How large those two groups would be I do not know and cannot say.  What I do know is the military I envision would be dramatically smaller than the one we presently employ if for no other reason than there would not be military bases spanning the globe and soldiers engaged in perpetual warfare on foreign soil.
Chet wonders if I believe that an "organized standing army is necessary to protect America's interests."  The answer to that question depends upon the content of America's interests.  As that term is generally used America's interests include undeclared wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.  It also includes a declared war on "terror," whatever that means.  It also includes military bases throughout the world.  It also includes a naval force in all of the world's oceans.  It also includes an air force that can bomb just about any country to smithereens in a moment's notice.   My definition of America's interests is a bit smaller.  I believe America's interests should be to defend the life, freedom and property of SDA citizens who live in the SDA, and nothing more.  All interests related to nation building and empire expansion must stop.
It is what Chet wrote next that I found most interesting.  He believes, and I suspect he is correct, that it would not be possible to recruit an all volunteer military force without offering sufficient financial incentives for those who sign up.  I had never thought of that point before and I believe Chet is on to something.  A base pay, similar to the minimum wage plus free room and board,  for service is probably not going to cut it when it comes time for some high school graduate to sign on the dotted line and give up four years of his life to the military.  Certainly some additional incentives must be offered if the military is to reach its recruitment goals.
My problem with the vast array of benefits currently being paid to veterans is not the mere fact that they are getting what the law says they are entitled to receive.  My problem is that the pay and benefits received by veterans were never subjected to the free market to determine what they should be.  It would have been possible for military recruiters to start with the lowest pay and the fewest benefits and then work their way upward until the exact amount of pay and benefits required to obtain an all volunteer force could be attained.  We have no idea what that level of pay and benefits would be because all pay and benefits have been predetermined by Congress, and they seem overly generous to me.  But who knows?  Maybe I am wrong and pay and benefit packages would actually be more generous if the free market was permitted to determine what soldiers should be paid.
Chet expresses his appreciation for the fact that he is a citizen of the Amerikan Empire and not of some third world country.  If you have the opportunity to choose the country you wish to become a citizen of it always makes sense to choose the most powerful empire the world has ever seen as your home.  I was born in this land as well.  I have not expatriated and have no plans of doing so.  Still, I wish the people who rule over me would cease being an empire and leave the rest of the world alone.
Chet makes the powerful point that, regardless of my opinion on the matter, the federal government has promised certain pay and benefits to veterans and it had better darn well pay them.  In addition, there is no point of me crying about it because it is a done deal.  He is 100% correct with both assertions and I agree with him 100%.  However,  I was not arguing in my original post that I believe the federal government should renege on the promises it has made to veterans.  Like it or not, that is the way that it is and I accept it.  My beef with veterans had much more to do with their attitude towards people like me who they believe are not showing them sufficient respect and honor for what they have done.  My problem was with men like (taken from the original blog post) "Army Staff Sergeant Chris Steavens had to say about his treatment since returning, 'When I raised my right hand and said, 'I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America,' when I gave them everything I could, I expect the same in return.'" I am not willing to give veterans everything I can in return for what they have done and I believe they should stop asking me to do so.  That was the primary point of my original blog post.
Thank you Chet for motivating my little brain to think about some things I have not thought about before in such detail.  If we ever cross paths in the real world I think that I should like to buy you a creamy Boddington's Pub Ale and we could discuss these things further.

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