Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Supporting our troops

Pentagon budget-cutters looking at ending military retirement. You'll walk away from your military service with the same worthless shrinking 401(k) to be stolen by Wall Street as the rest of us have. Which means people will put in their 20 years... why?

As with all attempts to take pensions away from public employees, the end result is going to be no (zero) cost savings. College-educated public employees currently accept wages approximately 20% lower than they could make in the private sector with their education and experience because of the expectation that they'll get a pension at the end of their service. Military "lifers" stay in the military, accepting far less money than they could make in the private sector, because they expect that pension at the end of their service. Take away that pension, and you'll have to pay them far more to stay, or else risk losing critical expertise, because the "lifers" are the institutional memory of the military, the propagators of a military culture that has proven to be extremely effective at killing lots of America's enemies with relatively little loss of American life. Destroy that military culture, and you destroy the military -- you end up with the sort of barely organized rabble that is a typical non-American military (otherwise known as TARGET PRACTICE if they dare take on the U.S. military).

In short, this is a bad idea on top of a bad idea, and just another example of how our Republicans in office (including Republican Obama) mouth platitudes about supporting our troops, but when the rubber hits the road.... uhm... not so much. But hey, yet more taxpayer money needs to be funneled to defense contractors for yet more jets that don't fly and other such nonsense... ignoring the fact that what makes our military so effective is its people, the advanced weapons are just the icing on the cake. But hey, we have CEO presidents now, who like the CEO's who destroyed American industry believe people are fungible... SIIIIIiigh!

- Badtux the Military Penguin


  1. We have a business and political ruling class who have never served in the military. We have a general population who have never served and never known anyone who has. However, in my opinion, that is peripheral to the actual goal of privatizing the military. The peripheral inexperience and disregard just makes it easier to sell the idea. Just my cynical opinion.


  2. Yeah, because mercenaries are so willing to die for their nation... oh wait, you say that whenever it looks like they're losing, mercenaries cut and run or change sides rather than go down fighting defending their nation? You don't say!

    - Badtux the Snarky penguin

  3. What makes me wonder is why people who realize that their 401(k) or other retirement plans aren't going to cut it, look at public employees and their guaranteed pensions and instead of saying, "I want that, what can I do to get that" end up saying "I don't have that so no one else should have it either"

    This way of thinking isn't limited to just pensions either. People also want to get rid of the VA and other benefits. Concepts like Total Compensation as opposed to wages aren't always things that people understand.

  4. Actually, the military retirement is not a "pension" strictly speaking. Pensions are not usually taxed; military retirement pay IS taxed except for any portion rated as disability pay.

    But either way, this is going to devastate the military in terms of careerists.

  5. When they came for the teachers' pensions, I said nothing because I wasn't a teacher.

    When they came for the firefighters' pensions, I said nothing because I wasn't a firefighter.

    When they came for the military's' pensions, I said nothing...and instead let my tank and M-16 do the talking for me!!

    (Not actually advocating violence, mind ya. I just know that this is the sort of thing that coups are made of....)

  6. Purple, one of the aspects of U.S. military culture that has been propagated from one generation of lifers to the next for longer than either of us has been alive is a firm belief in keeping the military out of the business of choosing civilian leadership. But if you're going to force all the lifers out by stealing their retirement, that's part of military culture that goes out with them -- there's no longer that continuity of military culture that says "thou shalt not coup". Instead, you end up with a lot of brash young men who say, "why *not* coup?", with no older heads amongst them to say "No, because once you create a precedent you end up with the same political instability that destroyed Rome".

    In short, while you're not right in the way you think (the current military will *not* do a coup), the many unique aspects of U.S. military culture that, amongst other things, prevent coups by our military despite the fact that virtually every other nation in our hemisphere has been ruled by military coups at one point or another, are *gone* if you steal the lifers' retirements. I can't see anything good happening out of this if it goes through.

    - Badtux the Military History Penguin

  7. You'd think Mr. Harvard Law and Constitutional scholar would know enough basic history to realize that F'ng over the military and bourgeois middle class usually leads to violent dislocation and/or revolution.


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