The Talking Dog

December 27, 2005, Thank you for your service. Now go away.

We give you this WaPo article discussing the "debate" going on in Congress and other policy circles as to whether to limit or reduce benefits to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Note, btw, that many of the cries for help come from older veterans from the Vietnam era; the real discussion is prospective... shall we screw veterans from the Iraq and Afghan campaigns ahead of time, as they will make their claims for benefits in years to come...

There are only two answers, since I'm reasonably sure the third, keeping things the same, is probably the least likely. The most likely (and ultimately most costly and least efficient, but most expedient politically) is that, like all but the richest members of our society, who will always be able to secure governmental support for their endeavors, the vets will have to fend for themselves... however they do it. The somewhat less likely other possibility (and ultimately, bizarrely, least costly and most efficient) is universal medical coverage, in which case, the vets would receive appropriate care and treatment because all Americans would receive appropriate care and treatment.

For those wondering why we have these bizarre results-- trillions for worthless weapons systems sail through, whereas basic health care for soldiers and veterans becomes a political football, despite being roughly a rounding error in budgetary matters-- the reason is pretty basic. Its called "corruption". Strangely, we do a pretty good job at policing basic corruption in the health care area, usually by finding malingerers or other false claims pretty quickly. Also, everything is so damned dispersed; even a $50,000 operation presents almost no kickback opportunities compared to a $50,000,000 fighter plane or $50,000,000,000 naval vessel or missile system...

And its that simple. The Pentagon (largely, but by no means exclusively, thanks to Dick Cheney) exists as a corruption machine: only a few select contractors are permitted to play, and anyone else must do business through them. They sell everything from weapons systems to pencil sharpeners to civilian and uniformed personnel who go back and forth to the private sector (including, for example, Cheney himself), and its a cozy way of dispensing around 20% of the federal budget without too many questions being asked.

An actual war... well, that's just a gravy opportunity even better than a year of Christmases (as it has been... if you're one of the selected "in" contractors...) We won't discuss the extent this may have played a role in getting us involved in the Iraq campaign (short answer... who knows?)

Not much good if you're just some grunt who thought he was serving his nation, of course. But then, friend, where's your rugged American spirit of individualism?