International Research

The Price of Freedom (part 2 of 2)

How much does peace of mind cost? How much should it cost?

We as Americans spend more money than any other nation, hands down, when it comes to national defense.In fiscal year 2008, the United States spent 941.4 billion dollars on national defense (Takahashi, 2008). As someone who served in our nation’s military and used NALCOMIS (Naval Aviation Logistics Command Managed Information System) on a daily basis for four years, let me assure you that your tax dollars spent on defense are not being spent responsibly. Aircraft squadrons would routinely have M9 status, which meant that they were out of money. This usually happened a month before the new fiscal year in October. You see, a squadron is allocated a budget, and if you’re a savvy commanding officer, you will use your budget in its entirety. If you fail to do so, your budget is forever reduced to the amount you used that year and the remaining amount is reclaimed by the government to reallocate. Therefore, you have CO’s squandering money at every turn; buying personnel new flight jackets, washing jets more frequently, extra fuel for training maneuvers, new computers. While I’m on the subject of new computers, did I mention that the military gets new Dell computers every two years? After mentioning all that, I cannot fail to mention the largest, glaring money pit that the military has, and I’m sad to say, it’s labor costs. You see, there’s a great deal of job security for people who work in the military, you can make mistakes and screw up your whole career, and you don’t get fired, you get reprimanded. The US military is a great place for young, unskilled people to learn a trade and better themselves, and some do, but some don’t. For every hard working, dedicated, patriotic, service member, you have a dozen people in there, just playing on the computer, avoiding work, collecting a paycheck. If you’re well-connected and easy to get along with, you can even get promoted following that model.

I know there is some shock value to what I said. America’s military and its personnel has often been an off-limits, taboo thing to discuss. Rest assured, steps are being taken to further the training in economic responsibility throughout the military. A great deal of money has been spent to ensure that programs like Lean Logic, Six Sigma, and Airspeed are incorporated into training. However, that’s also the problem. You can’t afford to send every service member to a class; usually the mandatory number is 10 percent of a given command. I was one of those people that were sent to these classes (because I reflected well upon the command). Instead of sending them all to class, material is printed off of the computer and disseminated. Everyone gathers in their chairs and spends one hour reading aloud to one another, pretending to be interested in the material. It’s one of the great fallacies that America’s military receives some kind of world-class training because I’ve been in multiple commands and it’s all handled in this fashion. Again, this is a prime example of wasted labor and wasted time. People don’t understand that in the military, it’s very similar to a regular 9 to 5 job. It’s a very good living. I wish I still got paid so well. For an 18 year old with no discernible skill set, it’s a fantastic opportunity to make 18,000 to 42,000 dollars per year depending on whether or not you qualify for BAH. What does one have to do to make such an impressive leap in pay? Simply get married or have a child, and a lot of them do just that. It’s a flaw in the system and it’s often exploited.