Saturday, June 14, 2008

Cake or Death? (Bread or Destruction?)

Some of you may have been reading the military newspapers, and seen that the Army is in a really bad fix. We've had to borrow money from the Navy and Air Force just to get paid for June 15. Even that borrowed money will only keep the payrolls running until the end of July. Currently, military leadership is trying to pass this off as Congress's fault: that unless Congress approves the supplemental funding bill, soldiers won't get paid starting August 1.

This is nothing more or better than a dodge to shift blame off of their own shoulders.

The supplemental funding bill is for just that-supplementals. It's not for payroll. It's to keep the things which are not usual to the defense budget (such as, for example, the Iraq occupation) moving. Taking money out of soldier's pockets in the confidence that somehow things will get better and more money can come is terrible planning and budgeting, and terrible thinking. It reminds me of the people everyone always complains about, who give themselves luxuries at the expense of their family and children, who have gold necklaces but can't pay for food. This is what the Army is right now. The Army is a guy with spinning rims on his car and living in an apartment with no water or electricity at the moment. And it is not Congress's fault. It's our own fault.

If soldiers are unable to pay their bills because the Army isn't paying them, I'm not really sure that having a few new things built in Iraq is not going to help their children sleep easier at night. And I know that the Army blackmailing Congress because they can't balance their own checkbook isn't going to make me happier.

I was looking at some figures, and I see we're overbudget in a lot of ways. In many ways, the Army has spent money it doesn't have. If only there were some rule! If only there were some law against spending money you don't have!

Oh, wait.

Article 123a—Making, drawing, or uttering check, draft, or order without sufficient funds

“Any person subject to this chapter who ... makes, draws, utters, or delivers any check, draft, or order for the payment of money upon any bank or other depository, knowing at the time that the maker or drawer has not or will not have sufficient funds in, or credit with, the bank or other depository for the payment of that check, draft, or order in full upon its presentment, shall be punished as a court-martial may direct."

Of course, there's also Article 134—(Check, worthless, making and uttering—by dishonorably failing to maintain funds)

And that's the thing that ticks me off. I maintain a security clearance. If I deliberately took money out of an account, counting on more money coming in, but having no guarantee, I would get in trouble. I might get Articled. I might lose my clearance. If I spent money like a drunken sailor with no expectation of more, I would get in severe trouble with the military.

Isn't higher leadership supposed to be SETTING the example?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

IVAW Tattoo Discount, GI Bill Rant

By way of Adam Kokesh,

20 percent off tattoos....might have been nice to know before I got my very expensive tattoo. Still, for other IVAW members out there, and those that would like to become IVAW members, good to know!

Now, on to the GI Bill. I've another video that I found says a lot of it better than I can.

Here's the thing. Yes, many soldiers were attracted by the idea of going to college. Going to as good a college as their brains could bring them to. The notion of not having to pay for school, their service being their payment.

They didn't read the fine print. They weren't supposed to read the fine print. They were never supposed to know how terrible the GI bill is.

Look. Let's be honest with each other and with the country. The Army money won't pay for a good school. While you're in, or while you're out, it simply won't do it. The Army assumes that its people don't need decent schooling. We can be shoved off with community college money, that is actually below what decent financial aid would cover. No matter how brilliant you are, the Army simply wont' pay for your schooling.

And this hurts the Army as well as its soldiers.

If the Army would pay for me to go to a decent law school? I'd honestly probably be willing to go back as a JAG officer. I've been tempted. But they won't pay for a decent school-just the kind of crummy school I could pay for on my own. The GI Bill currently doesn't pay for living expenses either, so you still need a full-time job to pay your rent. And again-find me a college that accepts tuition on a month-by-month basis. Please.

Jim Webb's bill proposes something radical-that soldiers deserve to go to the best public college in the state. It doesn't go as radical as I'd like. To be honest, I think a great GI Bill would be one that paid for whatever school the soldier could manage to get into, paying the money directly to the school. If I can get into Harvard or Yale or Columbia? Let the Army pay for the college I can achieve, rather than the college they feel I deserve. They've certainly used my brains to the utmost during my time of service, I know they know they're there.

But it's the best bill on the table right now.

And if it "hurts retention" because soldiers leave to actually go to school, what does that say about the current GI Bill, and what an illusory promise that is?