As I See It — Fighting the Budget Shrug
By Col. Steve Strobridge, USAF-Ret.
A recent article in Christian Science Monitor on military health care costs identified, in microcosm, the battle we face in the coming years in defending the military community’s sunk investment in its future.
After citing all DoD’s arguments that it’s being “eaten alive” by “unsustainable” military health care cost increases, the reporter had the courtesy of quoting me on the other side of the argument:
“’There’s a fundamental difference between social insurance programs open to every American and military benefits earned by decades of service and sacrifice,’ said Steve Strobridge, director of Governmental Relations for MOAA.
“What Mr. Strobridge raises here is a moral issue: Should the military be treated differently than nonmilitary America when it comes to pay and benefits? The armed forces put their lives, limbs, and mental health on the line for the safety of the country, or they potentially do. On a practical level, you need strong benefits to recruit and maintain a strong, all-volunteer military.”
And then came this kicker:
“But here’s another moral angle: Sacrifice goes with the territory of being in the armed services, and the military budget needs serious cutting. Should sacrifice not also extend to the defense of the nation’s financial health if it’s in critical danger?”
And there’s the problem. Sacrifices already endured are assigned no value. It’s the budget shrug: “They volunteered, didn’t they?”
Every 15 years or so, that indifference leads to cuts that eventually wreck retention — and then national leaders have to pull out all the stops and spend even more to solve the military manpower crisis they refused to prevent.
The real issue is, “How much is it worth for the country to be able to defend itself?”
Phi Beta Iota: With all due respect to MOAA, the real issue is NOT “what price defense” but rather “how best to defend.” There are three simple solutions to the military and and benefits problem that do NOT require reductions:
1. Restore the universal draft including immigrants and including a mid-career “sabatical” between military and private sector. This bonds the nation–one boot camp, three choices: Armed Forces, Peace Corps, Homeland Service.
2. Establish Constitutional honest government tht does not lead the Republic into elective wars for ideological and private reasons on the basis of (most recently) 935 documented lies. The same honest government can be expected to end the acquisition of things we do not need (e.g. missile defense in Poland, J-22, new nuclear submarine) at costs we cannot afford.
3. End the fiction that future Medicare costs re unfunded. They are only unfunded because a corrupt Congress in cahoots with a corrupt Administration (both parties) has forbidden price negotiation. The minute we restore honest government current and future Medicare costs come down to 1% (ONE percent) of what we pay now.
Thomas Jefferson: A Nation’s best defense is an educated citizenry.
Russell Ackoff: Stop trying to do the wrong things righter; do the right things.
Robert Steele: The truth at any cost reduces all other costs.