America’s Military Socialism

John Glaser, July 24, 2012

Rosa Brooks writes in Foreign Policy about our “socialist military.”

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the average member of the military is paid better than 75 percent of civilian federal workers with comparable experience. Members of the military and their families can also lay claim to America’s most generous (though arguably unsustainable) social programs.

As the spouse of a career Army officer, I’m stunned by the range of available benefits. Health care? Free! Groceries? Military commissaries save military families roughly 30 percent over shopping in civilian stores. Education benefits? Career personnel can expect the military to finance additional higher education, and the post-9/11 GI Bill provides up to 36 months of benefits to veterans, amounting, in effect, to full tuition and fees for four academic years. (The education benefit is also transferable to dependents.)

Housing? Free on base and subsidized off-base (the housing allowance goes up with family size: from each according to his ability, to each according to his need). Pensions? After 20 years of service, military personnel can retire and immediately begin to receive, at the ripe old age of 40 or so, an annual pension equal to half their salary — for the rest of their lives. Anyone who thinks socialism failed in America has never spent time on a military base.

Brooks writes that these inordinate benefits packages taxpayers are forced to provide the military are an illustration of “the increasingly reflexive esteem in which we hold the armed forces.” We’re told these soldiers make the ultimate sacrifice, putting their lives on the line for our freedoms, and so they’re worth the cost. But this is state doctrine which is perpetuated to hide the fact that our armed forces are largely for conquest, not for the protection of our freedom.

The doctrine, which demands automatic, society-wide praise for military service, is unwavering even in the face of obvious refutation. For example, numerous studies have concluded that violent sexual assault is rampant in the U.S. military. In 2008, an estimated 41 percent of all the women serving in the military were victims of sexual assault, a problem Rep. Jane Harman called “an epidemic.” Recent FBI investigations found that “Gang members have been reported in every branch of the U.S. military,” constituting “a significant criminal threat.” But so long as these individuals sport fatigues, they are freedom fighters?

I’ve asked before: what does it say about a culture that idolizes and fetishizes a commitment to kill on the orders of politicians in Washington? Now adding to that, is it right that those who make that commitment should get free housing, health care, groceries, education, and early retirement on the public’s dime?




33 Responses to “America’s Military Socialism”

  1. Is it any more fair that the professional welfare crowd gets free housing, health care, groceries, education, and early retirement on the public’s dime?

  2. Taxedmore, you obviously have never been trapped in the Orwellian social[ist] service system that pervades the lives of the poor in this country. Sure, they get minimal existance freebies…until they start to climb out of that hell hole at which time all their benefits cease. It's a system designed to keep people poor, thus needing the "services" of the millions of Social Service bureaucrats, many of whom make 6 figures, OFF YOUR TAXES. They poordon't get standing O's at events and endless outpourings of gratitude anytime they show up in public in their state issued costumes.

    Regardless, the socialist ripoff by the Military Industrial Complex continues apace.

  3. YOU HAVE TO BE A COMPLETE IDIOT TO COMPARE 345 MILLION PEOPLE TO MAYBE 5 MILLION PEOPLE OF ALL STRIDES OF LIFE WHO VOLUNTEER TO SERVE THEIR COUNTRY AND RISK THEIR LIVES ,SACRAFICE THEIR FAMILIES !!!!!! IT IS A DIFFERENT THING TO HAVE PEOPLE ALWAYS WITH HANDOUTS AND IN A CONSTANT WELFARE STAGE DOING NOTHING BUT ROBBING THE REST OF US WHO ARE WORKUNG OUR ASSES OFF TO PROVIDE NOT ONLY FOR OUR FAMILIES BUT ALSO PROUDLY SO WE WHO CAN NOT GO SERVE OURSELVES PROVIDE FOR THOSE BRAVE PATRIOTS WHO CAN,

  4. It sure makes it hard for military service personnel to go overseas and fight for "free markets."

  5. If you really feel that strongly about it, why don't you ask you spouse to leave the service and become a civilian? Put your actions where you words are. I bet you have no problem shopping at the commissary or living in officer quarters, do you?

  6. Don't blame socialism. Socialist are fiercely opposed to U.S. militarism. Don't forget every one of the major military contractors is a private for profit company trading on Wall Street. The money may come from tax payers but the contracts and the cash are handed over to the corporate free market system.

  7. Tony obviously missed the point about glorification of soldiers. Must have been his yelling.

    Also, the author of this post is not the spouse of a military worker – it is the person he’s quoting who discusses the benefits they receive.

  8. "…putting their lives on the line for our freedoms…"

    AmeroCon foreign policy is counter productive for the average American.

    These soldiers are NOT protecting our freedoms…maybe our freedumb (as Bushie said).

  9. Good grief, do you even know where your [caps lock] key is??

  10. While I despise the military-industrial complex as much as Smedley Butler did, Ms. Brooks' piece is so full of distortions that it demands a rebuttal:

    1. Just what constitutes the "average" military member? What rank? How much time in service? What special or incentive pay, if any? Inquiring minds want to know! The only extra I got during my eight years in the Air Force was a re-up bonus because my career field was shorthanded.

    2. That free health care applies only to active duty troops, and includes all sorts of mandatory inoculations. (Welcome to the "Shot-of-the-Month Club.") Some of them are more dangerous than the diseases they claim to prevent (like the anthrax and swine flu vaccines). I refuse to get a flu shot anymore because at least half of those I was forced to get in the service made me sick.

    3. For most people the housing allowance doesn't cover all the rent and utilities, when it's available at all. For those frugal folks of higher rank who keep their housing expenses low, the government takes back all or most of the unspent amount.

    4. That "half their salary" which retirees get is half of base pay only. All allowances, incentive pay, etc. are excluded. So in effect the pension is only 25-35%. While 40 may not be a "ripe old age," it's pretty late to start a second career. Also, retirees can be recalled to active duty at any time, the same as reservists. At any rate, only about 15% of those who join stick it out for 20 years. The rest leave with nothing.

    4a. There's a nasty wrinkle that apparently is unique to the Army. A soldier who re-enlists after 10 years' service does so without a future discharge date. That means the Army can prevent him from retiring after 20+ years, or leaving before then. IOW, he is (potentially) stuck for life.

    I gave Mike's post a thumbs-up. If Ms. Brooks is truly distressed about all those military perks, she should indeed ask her husband to leave. Failing that, she should stay away from the commissary, exchange, golf course, officers' club and anyplace else that offers goods or services at a lower price than off base. According to Vegas sports book, current odds against her doing either are 50-1.

    Next month marks 25 years since leaving the USAF, and I'm mulling over how to celebrate. I'll likely bake an anniversary cake for the family. I might also treat my co-workers to a beer.

  11. Tony, you state your case quite well. I'm simply awestruck by your post.

  12. Strider55,

    Your points are correct and right on target. The only thing I would say though is that many of the people "hanging around like cobwebs and dust" for 20 plus years are those who were unworthy to begin with. Had this been the angle from which Ms. Brooks was coming from, I think her case could have been better made. There is nothing wrong with serving 20 plus years of military service, only that many of those who did were dirtbags and thus were then and are now a waste of taxpayer money………………….

    .

  13. Housing? Free on base and subsidized off-base (the housing allowance goes up with family size: from each according to his ability, to each according to his need). Pensions? After 20 years of service, military personnel can retire and immediately begin to receive, at the ripe old age of 40 or so, an annual pension equal to half their salary — for the rest of their lives. Anyone who thinks socialism failed in America has never spent time on a military base.houston wedding bus

  14. Only a moron would post a whiny blog from an officer spouse and claim this reflects on the lifestyle of the "average" military member. Many enlisted military families rely on WIC, and I would rather pay taxes to support programs that benefit military families than programs that support druggies and teenage moms who can't keep it in their pants.

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