The Non-Case of Veterans v Robertson

Veterans vs Robertson

Don’t you love these memes that express outrage about the discrepancy of attention paid to two completely non-related issues? Aren’t they even better when they paint an inaccurate picture about who’s getting worked up about what, and why?

I’ll admit that it gives me a headache to think or write about the federal budget, which is why I try to avoid it, but like many Americans, I think we should help support our military veterans after they leave the service. Whether you agree with the causes of the wars in which they fought or not, these people selflessly put their lives on the line and we owe them a debt of gratitude.

That’s what makes the veteran benefit issue so vexing, and yes, a great many people have batted one or both eyes about it. The recent budget compromise passed by the Senate applies a one percent cut over ten years to the cost of living adjustments for military retirees with twenty years of service who are still of working age. In other words: If you’re retiring from the military after 20+ years, but you’re still under age 62, the federal government won’t be bumping up your benefits as much to help cover the rapidly swelling price tag of simply being alive.

Many Congresscritters and their constituents find that unconscionable, and I can understand their anger. If there’s any silver lining, it’s that the passage of this deal maybe averts another shutdown (I’m sure there’s still some way to screw this all up). To loosely paraphrase Frankenstein’s monster: SHUTDOWN BAD! Still, it kind of sucks to ask veterans to foot the bill for keeping the government running.

Now, about the second part of this terrible meme: nobody’s really losing their minds about the fact that Phil Robertson thinks homosexuality is a sin. One side is going crazy over the fact that Robertson compared homosexuality to bestiality, prostitution, and various other morally questionable activities, then displayed breathtaking stupidity regarding the plight of black Americans during the pre-civil rights era; the other side is going crazy over the fact that A&E made a business-savvy decision to suspend him. (A third subgroup thinks the entire thing is a publicity ploy; we cannot discount that possibility, but if so, it’s a sick one.)

Being upset about what Robertson said in no way precludes one from being upset about what’s happening to veterans’ benefits. In fact, both issues need addressing. Robertson’s comments could (and should) open the door for further discussion about tolerance in America (and why some people seem hell-bent on preventing our society from becoming more accepting of various ethnic groups, sexual orientations, religious beliefs, etc). The veterans’ benefits debate should draw peoples’ attention to how we elect to spend money in this country, and how we treat those who have served. There’s room at the table for both discussions. Please don’t pretend that one issue subtracts from another.

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