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Tuesday, August 04, 2009


Obama: the truth (maybe), but definitely not the whole truth

Speaking about the passage of a new "G.I. Bill" (by the way, do you know what "G.I." stands for? I never actually thought about it until just now, when I looked it up on the oft-maligned but indispensable Wikipedia), President Obama had this to say:
"And we do this not just to meet our moral obligation to those who've sacrificed greatly on our behalf and on behalf of the country. We do it because these men and women must now be prepared to lead our nation in the peaceful pursuit of economic leadership in the 21st century."
He "forgot" to mention that "we" also do it because without offering special benefits to veterans (not to mention large signing bonuses), the ability to continue recruiting into the military as cannon fodder for imperialist wars would be severely compromised. Indeed, that is even explicit in the bill (well, not the bit about "imperialism"!), which allows the G.I. to transfer benefits to a dependent if the G.I. reenlists for yet another four years.

I have nothing against educating veterans or anyone else, in fact I'm all for it, but the claim that the beneficiaries of this G.I. Bill will follow in the footsteps of the post-WWII G.I.s and "lead our nation etc." is a dubious proposition at best. A huge proportion of American men served in the military in WWII, and the fact that a large number of successful people were beneficiaries of the G.I. Bill is hardly surprising. With an all-volunteer military, and without a direct attack on American soil (or pseudo-American, in the case of WWII Hawaii), the number of men and women eligible for this bill is far smaller, with the vast majority of this generation's young people already pursuing other paths, either in college or in business (or unemployed, but that's a subject for another post).

This really offended me in the speech:

"While so many were reaching for the quick buck, they were heading out on patrol."
Not only is this offensive to millions of young Americans who didn't join the military but weren't pursuing "the quick buck" (and, one might ask, what "quick buck" is he talking about?), Obama forgets that a lot of those "heading out on patrol" were there because they couldn't find any other opportunity to make a buck, quick or otherwise, and were "economically drafted" into the military. There's a reason people like football star Pat Tillman are so celebrated in the media - it's because those with money or good careers who joined the military out of "patriotism" were few and far between.

By the way, this bill will cost $78 billion over the next decade and I don't recall a single person bringing up the cost and asking how we are going to pay for it.

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