26 March 2008

Support The Troops

We were recently "tagged" in a Facebook note by our friend and Marine veteran, Mark Patterson (subscription required). Mark called our attention to a paper recently released by the National Veterans Foundation. The NVF's paper highlights veteran's poor education and health benefits.

Patterson writes, "Why is it that our country can find money to bail out banks who gave irresponsible loans but it can't find the money to provide veterans with a fair education benefit?"

We would add, "why is it that our country can find money to bail out foolish borrowers?" It wasn't just banks at fault.

McCain has called for an increase in defense spending from 4% of GDP to 4.5 or 5%. We hope, and McCain has seemed to indicate, that some of this would go to better healthcare treatment for veterans and, we hope, increased education spending.

Patterson first calls increased veteran education benefits "welfare," saying, "while I oppose welfare in principle, I feel that providing a worthwhile GI Bill ... is an incredible investment for our nation." We too oppose welfare in general, but we don't call education spending for veterans welfare, we call it a smart investment in American human capital, as Patterson later labels it.

As it stands, the military attracts intelligent and capable Americans who forego higher pay in other industries because of a patriotic desire to serve. They, along with the less fortunate who rightly see military service as a way to improve their lives, comprise the best armed forces the world has ever seen.

We suspect there are many who, because of family and other concerns, decide not to join up. Perhaps if we took better care of our troops--increasing pay, bettering health care and education benefits--more people would make the decision to serve.


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17 comments:

Spikers said...

Regarding the banks: Many acted unlawfully, such as violating the Truth in Lending Act. A huge round of litigation is set to begin this year against some the largest lenders in the nation. Some lenders, are under investigation by the FBI. While some action may be necessary to assure credit is available, bailing out unscrupulous lenders is a bad idea.

I am all for expanding health care benefits, educational grants, and student loans to service men. I do not believe this will necessitate any further defense spending.

Our defense budget already totals 500 billion a year. What person can reasonably argue that 500 billion is insufficient to provide health care, education, and body armor to our troops

Matt said...
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Matt said...
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Spikers said...

huh? I do not understand what you mean.

Also, maybe rather than promoting an ever increasing budget for war, we should promote peace.

Matt said...

What don't you understand?

And how would you promote peace?

Ben Treasure said...

Coming from a liberal Democrat, myself, who refuses to support the War in Iraq - a war I see as pointless and mismanaged from the beginning - I can say that "promoting peace" is done through effective foreign policy (that doesn't involve armchair quarterbacks sending 4,000 people to their deaths over an Arab civil war), and an overwhelmingly superior military force.

There are people in this world who are well armed, organized, and want to destroy American way of life. The longer you want to deny that, Spikers, the more time they have to continue in their planning and execution of their goal - killing American citizens.

There's room for naivety in terms of economic policy and other sideline topics and conversations, but not in terms of American lives and the military. Our armed forces need the budget to protect the rights of people like Spikers to sit here and blog. And the longer people like Spikers don't understand this, the worse we get.

Ben Treasure said...

For the record, I am pleased to see this blog supporting Mark Patterson's argument. And I would recommend to everyone that they lobby their representatives to support the "New GI Bill" being sponsored by Senator Kerry, Bill O'Reilly, et al.

Spikers said...
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Spikers said...
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Spikers said...
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Spikers said...

I don't understand this statement: "The insufficient $500 billion can become reasonable when we have to fight a poly-front war on terror."

Do you mean to say that an otherwise reasonable sum of $500 billion can become insufficient when we are involved in conflicts in Iraq, Afghan, and other proxy wars?

Regarding peace:

To start, rather than flexing military might, I would suggest flexing economic might. A Marshall plan of sorts would be better suited to spreading stability and democracy than the sword. Imagine what 300 billion a year could do to build up world economies, improve world health, and help America's world image. I imagine much of the conflict in Gaza could be quieted if the Palestinians lived a comfortable and meaningful life. But living in abject poverty, without education, health care, or hope of a brighter future, too many see force as the only solution to their very real problems.

If you need a concrete example of how America's generosity can affect international opinion and promote stability look at the African countries that have been beneficiaries of Bush's aid programs. Bush is more popular in parts of Africa than he is in America. When you make peoples' lives better, they typically do not want to kill.

War is not the answer to promoting peace. The last necessary war in modern history was WWII. All others have been discretionary, and did not promote peace. In my view, war should be waged only when absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, in my opinion, too many buy the line popularized by the book 1985 "War is Peace"

Ben:

Where did I deny that we have enemies?

I think my position was simply. I am for the troops getting more benefits, but opposed to ever increasing defense budgets. The budget is large enough to accomplish increased benefits. The amount spent as a percentage of GDP tells us nothing. Look at what we spend in absolute terms. We spend more in absolute terms on defense than the entire world combined.

The problem is that we spend too little, but that we waste what we spend. CBS reported that the Pentagon's own auditors admit they cannot account for 25% of what it spends. Rumsfeld admitted to being unable to account for 2.3 trillion dollars.

Matt said...

Yes, I meant to include parenthesis as to enclose. Thats my fault.

I do not subscribe to "war is peace" but I do believe in "peace through strength."

I am all for a Marshall type plan. Africa has been a great success and yes Bush is heralded as a God there.

Ben Treasure said...

Here we go with Bush is God talk. Right on.

Spikers said...

Ben, you are missing the point. Bush, one of the worst Presidents of recent history, is revered throughout much of africa because he sent food, money and medicine instead of guns, bombs, and tanks. Don't you think there is a policy lesson to be learned from our experience in africa

jen said...

Spikers,

The problem with the Palestinians is not that they don't have enough money. The international community sends hundreds of millions of dollars to them every year. The problem is that they either use it to fund terrorism against Israel or it is pocketed by their corrupt leaders. With your economics background you ought to know well the failures of foreign aid and debt relief.

jen

Spikers said...

Jen-

The Palestinians are locked in a small section of land, without meaningful access to the developed cities of their neighbors. The population is unable to find gainful employment. Most are uneducated. Many are starving, leading to the recent breach of Egypt's border to get basic goods, like food, water and medicine. Without that aid, there would be even a worse humanitarian crisis in Palestine than there already is.

Do suppose, because some aid has been wasted or ineffective in the past, that all future aid must also fail to achieve its goals. Bush's recent aid to Africa proves the opposite.

I am not suggesting that there are easy answers in Palestine. But war will not solve the issue.

Ben Treasure said...

Spikers,

I did not miss the point. I'm well aware of Bush's rep in Africa, I just like ripping on him. And what Bush did in Africa did very little to stop the killing. Yes he helped some (some) people, but as far as strategic gains there was very little. Africa is a situation where an economic solution is the solution, I agree. But it cannot be compared to the strategic threat posed by armed, well financed militant Islam.

Bush, in my opinion, is the worst president in the history of our nation based on the strategic blunders committed under his direction. But that does not decrease the threat posed, nor the necessity to defend against it.

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