As you’ve doubtless heard, if the government shuts down on April 8 as threatened, military families may be facing a delay in pay—maybe even 50% pay cuts for the duration of the shutdown. For those of you who’ve not served, you need to know a couple of things:
1) Military pay is already crap. I’m not joking. In order to make anything like a living wage for a two-child family, the service member if enlisted would have to shoot for E-7 or above. The officer class has it a little better, sure, but not until you’ve passed your captaincy and become a major. It’s been like this since long before 1976 when I enlisted; the services have always lagged behind civilian industries in salary terms, to the extent that we used to joke constantly about money. You know, the bitter jokes we make because our salaries were really just subsistence-level. Many service members work second and third jobs just because otherwise they’d starve.
2) Consider the example of, say, and Air Force family with the service member in Iraq or Afghanistan or God knows where this time next year. Now, the service member still must pay for everything s/he needs (isn’t it strange that in the Green Zone you still pay for your meals? As I’ve heard Boyd Banks say, “You’d think Tim Hortons would just give the coffee away.” It’s a crime that corporations are making such profit from war, and in the case of Iraq a goddamned illegal one), so that’s one essential hardship. Then there’s the family back home—remember them? Spouse and two kids. Half-pay means essentials only; maybe bills don’t get paid, maybe they’re already far behind as so many military families are. But you can bet there’ll be no forgiveness from their creditors, most of whom simply do not care. Meanwhile the lobbyists and politicians will still make their coin, because money is a biproduct of power and how could they resist?
Motherfuckers, the lot. To sanction the shutdown is to abdicate the human heart.
3) We ask these men and women to give up their lives, years at a time, for what we call the national good. It’s called service for a reason. But these people absolutely rightly expect the nation to make good on all its promises—”you give four years of your life to ol’ Uncle Sugar, we’ll take care of you afterward”—and one of those promises is financial. For the government to renege on this, even to consider it, shows you the ethical depravity of the Right. They would do this, and they would not care. It is an insult to the military (past and present, I must add) and to their families. And all this over the Tea Party’s wish list: to gut EPA, Planned Parenthood, etc. If Americans had any sense they’d crush the Tea Party and deport Dick Armey. BTW, Dick finally has an army; do you suppose maybe there could be some Freudian aspect to this piece of shit? They’d send Palin packin,’ send O’Connell back home to pasture, and at long last let the grown-ups run the show.
Believe you me, I won’t hold my breath.