So “paying the military and their families for sixty years when they only serve 20” is unsustainable, eh?

That’s the attitude of the Defense Business Board which advised gutting the current military retirement system for a “fair” one that trims the budget by a mere $254 billion.

Funny, that’s how I feel about folks on life-long welfare or hipsters on food stamps who didn’t serve that “meager 20” in fighting in war zones, on hardship tours, separated from family.

Funny, too, that the media would feed off the idea of those wicked conservatives starving the poor and elderly for eons, while the notion of forcing cuts on those currently serving musters a peep in the Army Times and Stars and Stripes. Funny, how that works, no? No big media brouhaha over soldiers who gave up 20 of their most creative or financially productive years to serve their country. Hey, Michelle and Jill, I can tell you care about military families now!

The only “big” media mention of worth, in fact, that discusses the Defense Business Board’s proposals takes larger aim: cut that bloated head count argues Loren Thompson, writing for Forbes. She notes the Center for American Progress advocates changes to the military benefit system:

The center also endorses reforms of the military healthcare and retirement systems aimed at bringing compensation levels into closer alignment with the pay and benefits of private-sector workers.

First, note that the Center for American Progress is a leftist think-tank. Second, regardless of what any liberal thinks, soldiers are not private-sector workers nor should they be treated as such. Read the rest if you can tolerate sneering at those pencil-pushers within the military who do things other than fire guns. To Loren Thompson, civilians could push those pencils much better, and far cheaper. She’s obviously never met most civilians who work for the military, the vast majority of whom have neither the work ethic nor the standards to get the mission done–let alone done well–because their unions protect them from such trite things. But I digress.

When will the entitlement discussion come? Welfare? Social Security? Medicaid? Victor Davis Hanson voices soon to be necessary questions:

Should those on welfare who have more than three children still qualify for increased assistance for each additional offspring? Should state-subsidized elective operations automatically be provided for the chronically obese or lifelong smokers? Does the affluent class deserve mortgage-interest deductions on second and third homes? Should U.S. troops subsidize the defense of an allied and rich Germany or Japan 66 years after World War II?

Social Security reform used to be the third rail that politicians dared not touch. But is that prohibition really still operative as big government approaches insolvency? Expect soon not just the retirement ageto jump, reflecting modern longevity, or automatic cost-of-living increases to cease, mirroring the reality found in the private sector, but also the entire notion of disability to change as well.

Quite simply, the dogma that a teenager with dyslexia or a mature man with a bum knee will receive years of Social Security disability benefits will be assessed as an historical aberration of the last twenty years. A decision by an insurance company or government agency that a 62-year old must settle for arthroscopic surgery on a chronically torn meniscus rather than a complete knee replacement will not be interpreted as social cruelty.

Almost everything that can be said has been said about illegal immigration — and about the sustainability and morality of millions of Mexican and Latin American nationals crossing the U.S. border unlawfully and plugging into the American entitlement system. But an insolvent state like California, despite the liberal protestations, cannot continue to house 50,000 Mexican nationals in its penal system at a per capita cost of nearly $35,000 a year, or to extend free tuition in its broke university system to those without legal residence, or to provide social services to illegal aliens that may well cost the state nearly $10 billion a year. Even to suggest such limits was once considered illiberal. Now, not to state the obvious — that those without education, English, and legality have been expecting far more than what they could contribute in return — will be considered derelict.

That’s perspective: the 20-year savings from cutting gutting military retirements and shafting active-duty soldiers would pay for the social services for illegals in California for a month.  Read the rest.


16 Responses

  1. […] So “paying the military and their families for sixty years when they only serve 20″ is unsustai… […]

  2. […] So “paying the military and their families for sixty years when they only serve 20″ is … […]

  3. […] the military faces to retirement, ostensibly in the wake of the budget crisis here, here, here and here. The plan, however, saves pennies compared to the true budget woes we suffer as it […]

  4. pjMom,

    Minor correction, not all enlisted receive reenlistment bonuses. I served 25 years and never received one. They are awarded based on force structure and whether they are having difficulty retaining enough people with that skill set. In the Navy it’s based on rating and NEC in other branches it is based on MOS. Nuclear engineers can get a lot. Some over manned (or adequately manned) ratings get none.

    An easy answer for the band retirement is to disestablish the military bands. Some admiral needs background music for some ceremony use a cd player.

    National defense is important, but defense like all elements of government has grown massively and has a lot of waste. Every inch of government spending should be reviewed and anything that is not mandated by the Constitution should be abolished. Some claim that that is too disruptive. Nonsense. You could phase some stuff out to reduce the disruptive effect.

    • Largebill, I agree that parts of the military–like all government–can be trimmed. But screwing soldiers who have fought for the past 10 years in Iraq and Afghanistan isn’t the way to do it. Military bands? Sure. It isn’t necessary and these are lean times.
      As far as enlistment bonuses, you are correct. I guess sometimes I just see our neck of the military woods which is bonus-heavy for the NCOs.

  5. […] So “paying the military and their families for sixty years when they only serve 20″ is u… […]

  6. […] So “paying the military and their families for sixty years when they only serve 20″ is u… […]

  7. […] So “paying the military and their families for sixty years when they only serve 20″ is u… […]

  8. We can’t start making distinctions between different types of active duty status, that would be lunacy. All that does is open up the miltary to divisiveness among its ranks, and additional avenues for corruption.

    JACG, you sound like you mean well. But the more distinctions we make among those who live off the gov’t (whether welfare or active duty or grant recipients), the more reason to fight amongst each other for that ever decreasing share of the gov’t pie. And the more some third party has to decide who deserves what. Out of “fairness.”

    • So I guess my larger perspective would be: if we can’t afford the current defense budget, fine. Cut it. (Cut everything of course, incl. welfare, social security).

      But cut it simply. Can’t afford that many military members? Reduce them. (And stop treating them as the world’s peace keepers–you don’t have enough money for this anymore). Can’t afford all the welfare recipients? Reduce them. But don’t just create more categories of who receives how much. Funny how folks will find a way to work the new system you create.

      I like your 10 year cut off, PJ. It’s about as simple as you can get. Lordy mercy, civilian entitlement reform would save a lot more jack than miltiary pension reform, would it not?

      • You’re more right than you know. Even if they RIF’d half the military, the savings wouldn’t come close to Social Security, Medicaid, welfare, two years of unemployment.

        The 10 year cut is the best I can think of, but it doesn’t look like they’ll grandfather in anyone. Stinks. I hope the majority of E8s with a wealth of experience and knowledge quit before the start date of whatever retirement SNAFU is being cooked up. Ditto all the O5s with 20 years plus. And the military will suffer greatly as a result.

  9. I would have to say that it cannot be taken off the table realistically if we are going to get out of this mess.

    Personally I feel that we have to make a distinction between those who served in war zones and those who didn’t. I think that someone who play in the bands here in DC maybe shouldn’t get the same pension of the people who risked their lives in Iraq for two or three tours.

    I have a friend who was in for more than 20 years and he feels the same way. He also thinks people like him should be paying more for medical than the younger guys who are not making much. He is still serving in a sense that he is a civilian who works for DOD. He does the basically the same job as when he was in service. He feel his insurance rates should be higher than what they are because he can afford it. He makes a good salary now.

    • I agree that it can’t be taken off the table, JACG. but for new recruits, not for those serving. Or make the cutoff the 10 year mark, which is when most decide whether to stick through or get out. Preserve the system for those who are at the 10 year mark, change it for those under. You’d have a mass exodus from the military, but one that might eliminate the necessary RIF after we draw down from Iraq and Afghanistan.

      How do you make the distinction between those at war? My husband has been 3 times, but not in the past few years. Do you get more benefits then if you go more often?

      Re your retired friend: he does pay more. Retirees pay for their Tricare. Young enlisted do not. Since he’s a retiree with a job and additional insurance, he should use the system properly, i.e. use his employee health care rather than his Tricare. The change is in the works ( as I understand it) to force retirees who have employer-sponsored healthcare to use it.

      • But his rates were not higher while he was still active duty. Which is what he meant (I think anyway).

        He also does a great deal of hiring and he sees people that have disability pay and he has seen for himself that some are getting that pay unnecessarily. He had three interveiws in one week that all were at the same disability level. He said he couldn’t believe it was possible and that they are given out a little to easily. I don’t understand how the military works, I am just parotting what he said.

        My point is that there is waste in defense and it needs to be cut. I don’t mean to dish the guys who play in the bands, but somehow I think they may have to give up some of the benefits.

        To me, your husband has served in a war zone, his benefits should be left alone and kept as promised when he went in. The fact that it has been a few years is not relevent. He risked his life for me, the least I can do is pay him what is promised.

        I just don’t like when we hear from some quarters that under no circumstances do we cut defense. It is too large a part of the budget to taken off the table.

      • First, I agree that defense has to be on the table. But if it’s on the table as a small slice of the giant spending pie, then entitlements (the vast majority) damn well better be on the chopping block, too. Rooting out the waste in defense is a priority, but with the last round of budget cuts approved by the SecDef (old one, Gates), that’s a done deal already. The next round will be jobs. Not just band jobs, but soldiers who fight.

        (And as an aside, you’d argue that those who guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier shouldn’t receive the same benefits as those who serve overseas? It’s the same ceremonial unit that covers funerals in DC and band members. Just sayin’. They’re all in the Army. They should be treated as such.)

        Enlisted and NCOs receive re-signing bonuses, some of which can be rather signnificant depending upon their MOS (occupational specialty). Officers do not. Forcing officers to pay more isn’t the best route. Forcing spouses who work to use their employer benefits would reduce costs, as would forcing retirees to use employer benefits until their coverage runs out. Many do not because their retiree benefits are cheaper for the year than the cost through their current job.

        as far as disability, the system angers me. I have friends with tramatic brain injury fighting for benefits while a dude with sleep apnea can get a partial. Seriously? That’s not the fault of military, but the gov’t that runs it.

  10. Ethical issues aside, that’s just insane. They have recruiting problems as it is.

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