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05 August 2011

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William R. Cumming

Such a reduction in benefits for retired servicemen and women would indeed be a total breech of faith by Uncle Sugar. It was done once before however when General Douglas McCarthus routed the so-called "Bonus Marchers" from the MALL in the 1930s. These were not "Bonuses" but in fact lawfully accrued benefits from service in WWI. And they were not totally eliminated in all cases but reduced quite drastically during the folly of Depression era policies and the economy and the struggle over ending the Depression.

I would claw back some of the $27 Trillion paid out through the back door by the bank owned FED that went to the domestic banking sector and foreign banks first and as you suggest PL be more thoughtful in the use of military intervention long before any cut in military benefits be considered.

Basilisk

I have often thought that Fareed Zakariayah was "the smartest man on television"--not necessarily a mark of distinction--but he truly has a tin ear on matters bearing on domestic policies and politics.

This proposal smacks of the ultimate "bait and switch," and it it were to be applied retroactively, patently illegal too.

Stick with foreign policy, Fareed.

Patrick Lang

WRC

The bonus bemefits were not retired pay. they were for wartime service voted as a one time award. military retired pay is payment of contnued "solde" for continued membership. pl

LeaNder

"and if it were to be applied retroactively, patently illegal too."

Absolutely. The first thing I learned in German law was "pacta sunt servanda". Agreements must be kept.

It feels he is not really clear about what he means here:

"Today, the U.S. defense establishment is the world’s largest socialist economy."

so thanks to Pat for focussing our attention.

alnval

Col. Lang:

Someone out there should be able to tell us something about the retraining, refitting, and readjustment programs that both DOD and the private sector are offering to about-to-be retirees both enlisted and officer.

My sense is that folks are aware of the problem and have been doing something about it for quite a while. Not like the old days where a 20 hitch in the army led to a 20 year hitch in the post office.

Regardless, it makes no sense to me to change the current retirement benefits of anyone who completes their 20 years. These people represent an enormous resource to the country. By the time of retirement their vocational bona fides have been well honed and with proper preparation their transition into civilian life can only be profitable for themselves and their communities.

Charles I

Please, a reduction in benefits has no effect on dividends, market returns, the freedom to make dough, why we, er, you & they, fight, those schleps don't buy military hardware, indeed, we need the opportunity cost of the soldier's due for more hardware, which after all, creates employment. Maybe we have fewer grunts, we could do better.

Or afford better toys. Which creates employment!

"Over the next 10 years, the Department of Defense (DoD) plans to purchase about 730 new medium-sized and large unmanned aircraft systems based on designs currently in operation, while also improving the unmanned aircraft already in service. By the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO’s) estimates, completing the investments in systems for which there are detailed plans will require about $36.9 billion through 2020."

http://afpakwar.com/blog/archives/7153

There's a link to the CBO report "U.S. Congressional Budget Office Report: Policy Options for Unmanned Aircraft Systems" there.

howler

You've nailed it, sir. Forgive me for posting Kipling in an otherwise serious thread.
"Oh, it drives me half crazy to think of the days I
Went slap for the Ghazi, my sword at my side,
When we rode Hell-for-leather
Both squadrons together,
That didn't care whether we lived or we died.
But it's no use despairin', my wife must go charin'
An' me commissairin' the pay-bills to better,
So if me you be'old
In the wet and the cold,
By the Grand Metropold, won't you give me a letter?
(~Full chorus~)
Give 'im a letter --
'Can't do no better,
Late Troop-Sergeant-Major an' -- runs with a letter!
Think what 'e's been,
Think what 'e's seen,
Think of his pension an' ----
GAWD SAVE THE QUEEN"

William R. Cumming

Thanks PL and some were also for Veterans Life Insurance. That benefit and its loss went to SCOTUS where the high court ruled against the VETS.

Patrick Lang

alnval

"retraining, refitting, and readjustment programs that both DOD and the private sector are offering to about-to-be retirees both enlisted and officer" OK, let's hear about it from the victims, err, re-trainees.Can such programs really recompense for the best years of life spent in soldiering? pl

Arun

I don't read FZ's article as advocating cutting military retiree benefits. What am I missing?

Patrick Lang

arun

"...defense, a cradle-to-grave system of housing, subsidies, cost-plus procurement, early retirement and lifetime pension and health-care guarantees." pl

highlander

WELLL......What do you expect from people like these two?

They live inside the belly of the beast, which is basically a parasite on the rest of productive society.

Retired soldiers of the empire, are fair targets, for people like these two, or all of the liberal intelligensia for that matter. You have basically kept them secure, and now you don't. So to them, you are nothing, but pure expense to be eliminated. Plus, they didn't ever really appreciate proclivity toward violence, even if was to keep them safe.

Not to worry though, your pensions are safe, as long as the dollar remains the world reserve currancy. I believe that will be the case for 5 to 15 more years. Then,everybody's bets are called off!

J

OMG.

EGrise

Hear, hear.

J

Colonel,

Do you think we might stand a snowball's chance of billing the darling duo for our services rendered? They couldn't afford it.

Chi=ching, brrr (sound o adding machine crunching numbers), how much 'value' should we place on the darling duos personal hides, should we date it from the time they came out of the egg, or their present 'living net worth'? What dollar figure do you think they'd place on the cost of keeping them alive, in their own mind's eye that is?

Can we take their hides or scalps in payment for services rendered? Wonder how they'd peel them apples, if payment for services were presented to them for immediate collection?

J

Colonel,

I'm being 'rhetorical' of course regarding their scalps and hides, RBEG.

bth

This type of discussion is happening with police and fire dept. retirees across the country too. Govt. will favor those that provide current services and tend to forget the pensioners in times of scarcity.

Sec. of Def. will gouge the pension and health benefits and expect Congress to react by supplementing his budget because he knows that this is politically sensitive. So now the retirees will be pawns in a larger budget game.

Watch for the active duty military to target health benefits because it is a way to break up a unified response from retirees as the plan will be to game the eligibility and disability rating levels. I doubt this will happen until after the 2012 election but then watch out. Also it will allow the Pentagon to play older retirees off against younger ones with current conflict impairments.

Keep in mind that the push to address PTSD and costly TBI came from the civilians, not the generals and especially not the marines. These will be the first to go as soon as no one is looking. Same thing happened with agent orange issues a generation before.

Expect no help from the Republicans or the Tea Party whack jobs. They are busy reading or pretending to read Atlas Shrugged. Dems that would have stood up to prevent this before are now scattered and in disarray. Many critical ones were in swing districts and got voted out like in 2010.

The thing about the draft is that all families had skin in the game. With a professional military what often wishes to create perceived distance between itself and the public, there are drawbacks; pension support and healthcare is one of them.

Will Reks

Both these members of the 'liberal intelligensia' were supporters of the Iraq invasion.

They merely reflect the consensus of the elites that defined benefit plans are a relic of the past and a symbol of 'waste' in the military.

Joe Lieberman has been in the news lately because he's freaked out about potential triggers to cut defense spending. No doubt he would support cutting the retirement pay of soldiers so that this 'war on terror' can continue.

The Moar You Know

"Someone out there should be able to tell us something about the retraining, refitting, and readjustment programs that both DOD and the private sector are offering to about-to-be retirees both enlisted and officer."

I can, from the perspective of one who is an small business employer in the private sector.

I should say up front we are not awash in money. In fact, we've taken a 70% hit to our workforce since 2008, we lost money for the first time last year, and we are hanging on by the skin of our teeth.

The programs alnval refers to were never good and now they are utterly and completely worthless - the programs cannot (and are not designed to) bring a person up to full career speed. They just can't, not without spending a lot more time (years not months) and money per trainee than they do.

As for me, I can't hire a 40-year-old rookie. For anything. Training is all well and good, but they are not trained specifically for MY organization and I do not have the time or the money to bring such a person up to speed.

The money is, of course, the key part. I can pay a college undergrad $20k/year, plus token health insurance that doesn't cover much but doesn't cost anything either. In addition, the youngster won't figure out for a few years that the job I've just hired him for has virtually no possibility of advancement, either in terms of salary or responsibility. I'd like to give them or any other new hire a shot at something good...but those spots are already taken. Or getting cut.

The same deal that is a raw deal for my just-out-of-college 21 year old becomes savage cruelty for a military retiree. I can't pay a 40-year old 20k a year (well, I can but they won't stay for even a year, and they can't support a family on it) and I flat out cannot afford to pay for his health insurance, unless he's on Tricare for life. We all know that won't last for even the next five years. If I make him pay for his insurance at market rates, I'll be taking more than 50% of his salary out of every paycheck he earns.

As others have mentioned, procurement folks and other such paper pushers have an easier time with transition to civilian life. But a combat grunt? Non-com officer? We need something for these folks. As an employer, there is very, very little I can do to help them.

God help us all.

Tyler

So, they're advocating cutting the benefits of poor Southerners, still in their prime (generally - I say this as a paratrooper from the NE)who have just got done fighting some of the nastiest insurgent warfare this side of Chechnya?

I'd say if you were going to spark the powder of a civil war, this is the way to go about it.

Fred

Fareed "I never defended America" Zakaria can't yield his third tax cut in the second decade of the War on Terror because as a multimillionaire inside the beltway pundit he'd...?

Mr. O'Hanlon has some great stuff: "Since the Clinton years, the capabilities of Iran and the rise of China are among the strategic developments that have become more concerning, not less."

So Iran now has box cutters?

Or does he really mean the economic embargoes and sanctions against Iran have completely failed?

Or, after a decamating war against Sadaam's Iraq and a decade of sanctions they are just more of a threat than the USSR with 10,000 nuclear weapons, 100+ submarines and a strategic rocket and bomber force, not to mention 100 divisions on the German border, including the militaries of now Nato members Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Czechoslovakia? (I'm sure I missed some.)

China is a growing threat? You mean the "free market" hasn't destroyed them?
Right. The solution – cut the pay of those who spent decades defending America, or were injured in her defense because our sacred rich can't afford to pay a dime more.

Let Fareed's of this country defend it next time. China's not invading and neither is Iran, we've been over-run with rich greedy bastards, not communists or 'islamofacists'

alnval

I went through the VA vocational rehabilitation program. They pay - after the VA approves, not at the date of the injury or submission of claim - tuition, fees, books and a small stipend. They do not pay rent, food, housing. So while you are disabled and seeking 're-training' to be employable you still have to work full time or expend your own savings on the 'cost of living'. If you are married with kids,you'll need to get another job before you get the 'education'.

Arun

I read it as FZ as merely taking a dig at conservatives:

Serious conservatives should examine the defense budget, which contains tons of evidence of liberalism run amok that they usually decry.

alnval

Col. Lang:

I don't think that the programs I was referring to are meant to substitute for existing retirement benefits but to supplement them by aiding the retiree in finding a place in the civilian world of work where his/her proven skills at functioning effectively in a competitive work environment, i.e., the military, can be exploited successfully for the benefit of both parties.

It would not surprise me, however, to find out that that goal is not being met and that the retirees are not being well served by the existing programs. That doesn't change the basic equation, however: Vocational skills acquired and honed in the military have wide applicability in the civilian world. I'm talking here not about the retiree's specific MOS but about the skills and abilities (potential) that the retiree brought to the table that allowed him/her to acquire that MOS in the first place.

Ken Hoop

Zakaria was pro Iraq War, so he should NOT go near foreign policy. Also he grovelled before the ADL.

Here's Buchanan's list:

"Rather than slash weapons systems or R&D, the United States should begin by ending our three-and-a-half wars, terminating treaties to go to war for nations having nothing to do with U.S. vital interests, closing bases abroad, bringing troops home and staying out of unnecessary wars.

Why are we still committed to defending two dozen nations in Europe when the threat that took us there 60 years ago, the huge Red Army on the Elbe, went home 20 years ago?

Why are thousands of U.S. troops on the Korean DMZ when South Korea has twice the population and 40 times the economy of the North?

Why are Marines still in Okinawa, two-thirds of a century after their grandfathers invaded the island? Bring them home, and put them on the Mexican border, for that is where the future of this republic is going to be decided."

http://www.amconmag.com/blog/2011/08/04/fiscal-hawks-vs-security-hawks/

Jose L Campos

Very ancient stuff.
Augustus couldn't pay his veterans so he dispossessed farmers of their land to give it to the soldiers. That is the basis of Vergil's first eclogue. A beautiful poem.

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