FROM MY CORNER
The Counterfeit Hero
After the 2008 recession, the Veterans Administration medically tested me for a year and a half, then eventually awarded me a full disabled veteran’s retirement pension. It has always bothered me. It is not what I requested when the military determined that, at my “advanced age” my active duty injuries deserved it.
The VA had shown me a video offering me adequate investment funds to create a new business. They required a fully written and financially projected Marketing Plan for the one-time event.
With over thirty years’ marketing and commercial TV production experience under my belt, preparing a rationally-conceived cash flow and profit projection was something I could accomplish with confidence.
Since I had been for years a successful self-employed marketing consultant, I had written in my lifetime many marketing plans for clients. Therefore, the prospect of finally having investment funds for growth strongly motivated me.
I documented my market, identified expenses, projected a cautious new business income stream, and an eventual breakeven point for my new Video Production business. I looked forward to finally having the ability to enlarge my market and expand my expertise.
The VA denied my application. Instead, Washington’s bureaucratic VA moguls designated me officially “unemployable” and awarded me a lifetime income. Instead of being able to expand my work, I was by political circumstances turned into a ward of the country.
There is no doubt that in America when one is designated a Disabled Veteran it carries a degree of respectability. Our countrymen and women generally support veterans. Our culture places a marked degree of esteem upon them.
It is almost deemed an honor to be a disabled veteran. Nonetheless, I have always viewed it with skepticism. I had fulfilled my term of military service with the best efforts I could provide. I have no doubt I earned my “Honorable Discharge.” But I most certainly had never considered myself any sort of hero.
The dynamic at work in America supporting and nurturing our military/industrial complex deserves scrutiny by all of us. In my case, 57 years ago, when I originally entered active duty, U.S. law demanded I serve – or go to jail. The volunteer Army did not exist at that time.
I remember what I was thinking in college when I accepted advanced officer ROTC training. If it had not been required by law that I enter the service, I would clearly never have been a military man. I would far more have preferred immediate and perpetual civilian employment.
Of course, I understand the perceived need in the real world of international politics for the military. So, I served with loyalty and did my best. So do tens of thousands of Americans.
But one thing is crystal clear about the makeup of the U.S. military/industrial complex: its economic military dynamic is unquestionably designed to perpetuate the art and science of war through the incentive of profit.
Studies have documented that after World War II, senior U. S. officials, with clear conscious effort, designed our American economy to continue – as a defensive strategy – to be backboned financially by many smaller private military support companies spread throughout the states.
This wide expanse of private companies insure the loyal support of millions of Americans, whose jobs depend on the larger military/industrial R & D and manufacturing industries.
This strategy has appeared viable to keep America safe for generations, possibly centuries. From all outward appearances it has worked. We have without question the largest most formidable military in the world. We sell our military products worldwide for billions of dollars.
It has cost us a heavy price though. Thousands of men and women killed. Thousands left homeless for many decades in every major city of the country. And it has taken trillions of our tax dollars to accomplish and maintain.
Every generation of Americans pays for this defense. And pays highly, because our major industries all profit highly from the conduct of war preparedness. The profits of defense are immense. They are also distributed among certain key giant research and development and manufacturing firms and their financiers.
Interestingly, many, if not all, of these firms through interlocking directorates also own our major media, which continuously sell us on our latest wars, and these firms continuously lobby our politicians to insure continued financial support for defense. They also bankroll the political campaigns of most all candidates.
Our enlisted draft military has been replaced with a volunteer one that mostly attracts financially disadvantaged minorities. The military of my generation, however, was based on penal penalties for the few who chose not to serve this model; and those financial entities enacting the laws for these penalties earned immense profits building the military machine.
This is, of course, a sensitive and complex subject. One should not claim that the entire motivation of the military/industrial complex is profit based. But the thought does arise: what would those profiting from war machinery do if legislation were passed requiring all defense contracts be conducted on a non-profit basis? I will permit you to pass judgment on that.
My point is simply this: our military, and most of the militaries of the world, are among the most profitable businesses known to humanity. One cannot help but wonder what the wealthy of all nations, who became wealthy through their defense businesses, would have done if their investments had been mandated to promote peaceful coexistence rather than “defend” one another from each other.
Financial profit is a tough incentive to ignore. It is intrinsic to all of us. The conclusion that this incentive could be the eventual demise of our societies is not far fetched. Both America and Russia are now on a path to spend billions of dollars “upgrading” their nuclear arsenals.
All of this is a result of Eisenhower’s correct assessment about the danger of the Military Industrial Complex, which still rules America – as similar ones rule the other nations of the world.
The tangible conclusion our leaders have drawn, therefore, is that this model of life on the planet is sane. When it is quite clear to any rationally thinking mind is that it is patently insane.
No leader today in the world, certainly not ours, is calling for an international conclave of leaders to even discuss the possibility of collaborating to create the end of militarily-based economies in order to promote the security of the human race.
That, to my mind, could constitute real sanity. But, any others and I who would propose such a conclave would surely be judged insane. Or if not insane, at least irrationally radical.
This is your counterfeit hero wishing you a nice Sunday.