Virtual Dandruff...

The result of virtual head scratching. Imaginary white flakes that flutter from my cyber-head onto my cyber-shoulders, as I try to figure out where some people get their information, and why they believe it with such insistence.

I know this person online; we occasionally IM and she knows that if I find something she says to be pretty out there*, it’ll wind up on my blog. ‘Cause I’m immature that way. You amuse me, perplex me, piss me off, entertain me, make me smile—you’re probably going to end up on my blog. Anonymously. My immaturity does have a limit.

This person has the tendency to tick me off, amuse me, and entertain me all at once.

Today’s Topic: Why The Military Needs To Stop Giving People Pay Raises.

Her: It’s ridiculous, giving those people 10% raises every year!
Me: Um, we never saw a 10% raise in 20 years. When we got 4%, it was An Event.
Her: My dad told me it was always 10%. But that doesn’t even matter.
Her: All the free stuff should be enough
Me: What free stuff?
Her: Free housing, free food, free medical.
Her: They get that AND good pay!

Yes…this went on for a while. She is convinced that every member of the military is making over $60,000 a year, gets free rent, free run of the commissary, a free medical.

I can’t argue the free medical. If you choose TriCare Prime and see doctors on base, get your meds on base, it’s essentially “free.” A benefit.

But no, folks, military people do not get free houses or free food. And sadly, she’s not the first person I’ve talked to who believe that they do.

I think the misconception comes in not understanding the military pay system. There’s an allowance for housing—a specified dollar amount based on rank and geographical location—and there is a “Subsistence Allowance,” a dollar amount meant to cover some food expenses.

The misunderstanding occurs when assuming that those are “extras.” They’re not. It’s a part of the military member’s overall pay. If they live in base housing, that part of their pay is withheld. If they eat in the mess halls, they don’t get the subsistence pay; they get a meal card instead. They don’t get the housing allowance while living in base housing because that is the amount of rent they are being charged; they don’t get the subsistence pay while using a meal card because that is the amount per month they are being charged for food.

And trust me, if the commissary were free, it would be packed to the gills every day, and there would be a much higher rate of obesity among active duty and their dependents than already exists.

If the pay were so wonderful, some of our junior enlisted—the guys on whose backs the success of the military pretty much rides—would not qualify for food stamps. They would not have to rely on the base Food Closets or Airman’s Attics (household goods donated for use by those enlisted who need things.) Face it, when you’re an airman who makes $1400 a month in basic pay, you’re not getting rich.

I never did get her to understand that those Allowances are a part of the military member’s pay that get taken away when they move into base housing or don’t use the mess halls…she’s still floating around cyber space, certain that A1C Smith has enough cash to buy himself a Cadillac, which he drives to the free commissary from his free house to collect all his free food…

If the food was free all along, dammit, I want my money back!

*Well, Obviously, I’m A Loser

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