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A Financial Crisis By Any Other Name

© Tom Tomorrow

Sometimes when I read about the latest shenanigans in Congress, I feel like an alien. Is this really how we look to the rest of the world?

UPDATE: Paul Krugman has an excellent editorial about how the Republican Party has been acting crazy for a long time. And the current insanity is a result of us letting them get away with it for so long. As he puts it, “If you’re surprised, that means that you were part of the problem.”

UPDATE 2: The rest of the world also thinks the Republicans are nuts. And worse, that they are holding the world’s economy hostage. Once this little mess is over, watch the rest of the world distance itself from the dollar standard as quickly as possible, to our great detriment. The Republicans, even if they do give in and let Obama solve the debt crisis, have fucked us over.



  1. Dan wrote:

    The warrior caste? Our military? Last I knew the lowest three pay grades were still under the poverty level. Unless he is talking about the mercenaries, officers, and the military industrial complex in general.
    The troops doing most of the fighting and dying are very much underpaid, and sadly too young and inexperienced to even be in combat.

    Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 7:27 am | Permalink
  2. starluna wrote:

    I read today that there is/was a proposal to ensure that the military expenditures continue to be paid if we go into default. I wonder, though, how much of that would be salaries of the enlisted and officers versus things like paying contractors to do R&D or build equipment that we all know is not needed. Is there even that level of thinking going on?

    To Dan’s point, my niece and her husband have been stationed in Fairbanks, AK for the last 3-4 years (he’s enlisted but I don’t know what rank; she was discharged before the first baby was born). The entire time, they have depended on Food Stamps and WIC to feed their two kids. I’m not sure if that is just because the cost of food is so much higher there or if his pay is just that low. I suppose we’ll know more when they move to CO next month.

    Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 8:47 am | Permalink
  3. Dan wrote:

    In high cost areas they get a COLA (cost of living allowance) If you watch the Newshour theywill show the killed with photos when the info is released. One day it was all 18 & 19 year olds. No way should children that young be in this situation.

    Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Permalink
  4. Patricia wrote:

    Dear Dan et alia: This is a cartoon allegory. It is using generalities such as “Warrior Caste” to make a point. That point is that certain power elites (lower ranking members are never included in this even in the real world) are exepmt from having to share in problems that they helped to create.

    My niece just sent her high school graduate boyfriend to marine boot camp and from there who knows where. You are right that those sent to fight and die are always and everywhere TOO young to fight, TOO poor to carry the burden and so forth.

    Sometimes an allegory can get past the barriers that people put up to avoid thinking about what really needs to be done.

    Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Permalink
  5. starluna wrote:

    Dan – now that you mention it, I do recall her mentioning that in passing. And yet, even with that, they still rely on Food Stamps and WIC. So sad.

    Since WGBH started broadcasting the NewsHour on radio, I listen to it more than watch it. Since they show the soldiers killed in silence (which is totally appropriate) I don’t always get to see them anymore. But when I do, it is always heartbreaking to see how young they all are. My husband has a hard time watching it because he’s afraid he’ll see one of his students. His university gets a lot of both enlisted and National Guard.

    Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Permalink
  6. Jon wrote:

    Dan, I don’t think it means each personal soldier is getting too much money. It does, however, cost over $1,000,000 per year (logistically) to keep one soldier on the ground in AfPak or Iraq. We the people are bleeding here–our life savings and the future of our families–to sustain military operations whose purposes were ill-conceived and currently unclear. Certainly the reasons we went can’t be justified now. AND YES, I KNOW soldiers don’t make policy, they carry out the orders of the civilians who do. I was an enlisted man who did three tours of duty in Viet Nam, and I have a keen sense when it comes to sensing that the military is being misused. Back in the day I recall making a lot less than $200 per month over there. Now get off my lawn!

    Thursday, July 14, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Permalink
  7. PatriotSGT wrote:

    Thanks for your service JON!
    Similar to JON, I’ve done 3 tours (2 OIF, 1 OEF). Part of the expensive cost of these wars is that the Army was downsized considerably following the end of the cold war. Many military jobs were cut that provided sustainment, ie. food service, over the road trucking, laundry, various mechanical, carpentry, engineering, etc. and on and on. During peace time it’s fine, but during war all those war fighter support roles get filled by civilian contractors like KBR so there’s no real savings to the military. In fact, its is probably more expensive then using military although it saves the gov’t some possible long term costs like health care or retirement if the Soldier stayed for 20.

    I agree that our military gets abused. The Guard and Reserve were never intended to be used in the manner they are currently deployed, (2 of my tours in 5 years have been with the Guard). While draw down seems like it will slowly happen, there is still no end in sight and it’s possible that someone could spend 20 years of their service in a war time role, which would be unprecedented in our nations history.

    As to pay, some Soldiers join because its a steady paycheck, but most stay because they choose to serve their nation. It provides a comfortable living and many Soldiers forget to add in the “unseen benefits” like healthcare retirement, and leave time (if you can use it). But to compare it to the civilian world is hard. I’m a Sr. NonComm. and in my 3rd tour I ran a hospital plus 2 clinics and supervised 160 personnel in 3 locations that had over 20,000 patient contacts in a year. I made about $53,000 in base pay. Plus you’d have to add haz duty, family sep and the fed tax free benefit plus our housing allowance. All told (in war theater) about $80k.
    How that compares given the conditions we operated in I’m not sure, but i’m guessing the gov’t got a bargain. In the civilian world I make a comfortable 6 figure living as a contractor to the Gov’t, don’t get shot at and I’m home for supper most nights. In theater I worked 7 days, 12 plus hrs a day, available 24hrs and frequently woken up at night. Our military works hard, yeah they get down time, but when overseas the taxpayers get a bargain.

    What concerns me most is the unseen cost to our military men and women. The battle fatigue, the PTSD, the mental cost. These folks will be fighting this war long after they return, just like all our previous veterans. It’s just this is going on too long and involves over time more of our youth. I don’t know the total numbers of personnel who have or will serve until this thing is over, but I’d guess it will rival WWII before it’s over. All the while they have to see and hear the opposing voices, although its been much better then Vietnam, which was despicable treatment of people following orders of the president.

    Sorry for the long rant, but no one in our leadership seems to really grasp the toll they are inflicting as they argue about politics. Maybe if they convened in Afghanistan and had to duck once in a while, live in a tent or shack and hold a friend in their lap while they died they figure out whats real. Lets bring our troops home.

    Friday, July 15, 2011 at 7:29 am | Permalink
  8. Patricia wrote:

    Jon and PSgt: My point exactly, but I never get it articulated as well. Nobody will ever pay the front line what it is worth. Nor will those who send the front line to its post ever share fairly what they have gained from the front line’s service. End of my rant — I promise!

    Friday, July 15, 2011 at 8:20 am | Permalink
  9. starluna wrote:

    The burden on individual soldiers is just the beginning. There is a toll on the families and their communities as well. Many small communities are suffering the loss of personnel in their public safety agencies because many Guard soldiers are also police and firefighters. Families have lost income and some of have even lost their homes (illegally).

    The House Republicans are so much a part of this problem. This week there were hearings in Congress that focused on attacking Elizabeth Warren and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Many Democrats asked why are they focused on an agency that is responsible for protecting consumers instead of investigating banks that illegally foreclosed on the homes of deployed servicemembers. Of course, the Republican chair was not to be diverted from whatever his goal was in having the hearing. It was disgusting to read about. I can’t even imagine how it must have looked.

    Friday, July 15, 2011 at 8:22 am | Permalink
  10. PatriotSGT wrote:

    As a follow-up another problem our veterans face is unemployment. Rates for veterans are higher then civilians for reasons I can’t understand. Part of it may be how do military skills like infantry, calvary scout or fire direction controller compare to civilian opportunities? What is not seen by the employer are the hidden talents that could help many companies succeed. Things like loyalty, teamwork, dedication to see a task through, selflessness and leadership. Here’s an article I ran accross that looks at the veteran divide when it comes to employment.

    Friday, July 15, 2011 at 9:56 am | Permalink
  11. Iron Knee wrote:

    PatriotSgt, thank you for your really well expressed comments.

    Friday, July 15, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Permalink