In our Liberty Update this week, we highlight the Biden Administration's role in rising inflation, some…
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Image of the Day: Good News - As Inflation Accelerates Elsewhere, Internet Service Costs Actually Decline

In our Liberty Update this week, we highlight the Biden Administration's role in rising inflation, some of its under-discussed negative consequences and its shockingly tone-deaf responses and rationalizations.  In an increasingly rare bit of positive news from NCTA, The Internet & Television Association, however, internet service provider costs are actually declining:

 

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="704"] Good News: Internet Service Costs Decline[/caption]

 …[more]

October 22, 2021 • 12:36 PM

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Mind the Gap: The Dangerous Distance Between Civilians and the Military Print
By Troy Senik
Thursday, May 29 2014
There are costs to this arm’s length relationship with the military.

In a just world, the scandal over the mistreatment of retired military members by the Department of Veterans Affairs’ healthcare system would’ve broken in early November. That may sound like a strange argument, so bear with me.

The fact that the VA scandal was capturing headlines in late May had the unfortunate effect of making the story intersect with Memorial Day. Because much of the media can’t resist Easy-Bake narratives, there were endless newspaper columns and broadcast commentaries last week introducing comments about the VA scandal with prefatory throat-clearing along the lines of “As we celebrate America’s veterans on this holiday weekend….”

Nice sentiment … but dead wrong.

We don’t celebrate all of America’s veterans on Memorial Day. We do it on November 11 — on a holiday called Veterans Day (presumably so that even members of the media can grasp the distinction). Memorial Day is dedicated specifically to remembering those who died in the service of their country.

Sure, it may seem like a pedantic distinction — but I’ve never yet met a member of a military family who wasn’t aggressive about the difference. Those who’ve served in uniform and been fortunate enough to come back home understand the distance between their sacrifices and the ones made by those who never got to board the return flight. The families of the fallen, as one might expect, are similarly sensitive.

The point here is not so much to score cheap points at the press’s expense (that’s just an added benefit) as to highlight a society-wide trend that the media is only an extreme example of: the complete disconnect between the civilian population and those who serve in uniform.

Speaking at the National Defense University in 2011, Admiral Mike Mullen, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, lamented that “America doesn’t know its military and the United States military doesn’t know America.” Mullen was being too evenhanded for his own good. Of course the military knows America. With the exception of families boasting multiple generations of military careerists, the vast majority of those who serve were marinated in precisely the same culture as their civilian counterparts.

On the first point, however, he’s dead on. Only 0.5 percent of the population has been on active duty in the armed forces within the last decade — a smaller proportion that at any time since between the two world wars. And those few who do serve are not especially representative of the country as a whole. The average soldier is more likely to be black than the average American, and less likely to be Hispanic. They’re less likely to have had college courses. They’re more likely to be Republicans. And they’re less likely to hail from the elite cultural centers of the coasts than from the Mountain West or the South.
 
Now, we shouldn’t expect the military to be a microcosm of America at large. Because ours is an all-volunteer force, it’s inevitable that self-selection will yield a different makeup than a fighting force drawn at random from the wider populace. What’s notable, however, about those demographic facts is that the military is heavily populated by precisely the same groups that are underrepresented in elite institutions like higher education, the media and government.

This results in a civic dialogue that’s often characterized by utter ignorance about our men and women in uniform. In 2010, Barack Obama caught a lot of grief when he repeatedly mispronounced the word “corpsman” (he pronounced the silent ‘p’) at the National Prayer Breakfast.

Most of the ridicule was of the “Obama is a slave to the teleprompter” variety, but the salient point was the President of the United States — the Commander-in-Chief — was unfamiliar with a basic bit of military vocabulary. And why wouldn’t he be? Where would someone who glided from elite universities to community organizing to big city politics ever obtain a working knowledge of military matters?

You see similar embarrassments in the media all the time. How many arguments about whether to engage in war devolve into discussions about whether the interlocutor would “send your son or daughter to fight.” This is one of the most insulting phrases that could ever reach the ears of a member of the armed forces. Not one of them was “sent” into service. It’s an all-volunteer force. They raised their hands and demonstrated the courage necessary to say that they would go wherever their country needed them. And they give their utmost, even when they may have doubts about the wisdom of the mission.
 
To be sure, the country as a whole has made much progress in the way it treats members of the military. Gone are the days when soldiers returning from Vietnam would be slandered as “war criminals” or “murderers” (those epithets seem reserved for elected officials these days). In fact, sensitivity to the excesses of that era seem, if anything, to have led to an over-correction.

These days, members of the military returning home from service are increasingly likely to be treated as victims. That’s usually well intentioned — it at least shows a degree of compassion lacking during the Vietnam era — but it’s also incredibly condescending. Veterans would probably appreciate understanding more than pity. A 2012 Pew poll found that 84 percent of those who served in the post-9/11 military believed the public doesn’t understand the problems they or their families face.

There are costs to this arm’s length relationship with the military. It’s not uncommon, for instance, to hear the observation that those who’ve served in wars are less likely to support them, having known the terrible toll they exact. While that is true in some instances, there’s also a corollary that’s much less frequently mentioned: Those who’ve served tend to have a realistically tragic view of the world. They may be less trigger-happy when it comes to going to war, but they’re also less sanguine about the prospects for consensual diplomacy  — for the notion that Iran may abandon the pursuit of nuclear weapons or that Vladimir Putin may curtail his revanchist ambitions simply because of finely calibrated diplomatic niceties. The kind of naiveté that circulates in foreign policy think tanks and on editorial pages can’t survive the lived experiences of those who’ve seen evil up close.

The solution most often advanced to close this civilian-military gulf is re-instituting the draft. That’s not the solution. There are plenty of good ideological reasons to oppose conscription, but the most compelling rationale is utterly practical: Institutions populated by people who don’t want to be there don’t tend to function very well. The military’s purpose is too vital to compromise for the sake of social engineering.

Real improvement won’t come from something as easy as passing a piece of legislation. It will require individual Americans making the effort to actually understand the lives of military men and women. It will require studying military history to understand the always-more-complicated-than-it-looks world of warfare. And it will require more Americans being willing to think of time in uniform as valuable and worthwhile service to the country — not just for unseen others, but for them and their loved ones as well.

Whether it’s Memorial Day, Veterans Day or any other spot on the calendar, the members of the United States military are always worth saluting. Now, if we’d only spend just a fraction of the time we spend honoring them trying to actually understand them.

Quiz Question   
In which century were the first mandatory vaccination laws enacted in the United States?
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Notable Quote   
 
"If you've been taking the latest climate warnings from the White House seriously and literally, you believe the Earth is about to become either a ball of fire or an enormous ocean.I humbly suggest a more likely possibility: You are being blitzed by a government snow job.The claim that the end is near is the latest example of how the Biden administration is creating more problems for itself than it…[more]
 
 
—Michael Goodwin, New York Post Columnist
— Michael Goodwin, New York Post Columnist
 
Liberty Poll   

Do you support or oppose any expansion beyond current regulations of bank reporting account holder financial transactions to the IRS, regardless of threshold amount?