Monday, August 01, 2005

Who's Paying for Our Patriotism?

Before all of the falderol about going to war, when I was accused of being unpatriotic, I sent around an email with all of these same points and more. It is easy to "support our troops" from afar. But as far as being personally involved, Amurica isn't. One of the other blogs had a comment that said our military members aren't poor in comparison to the "poor" of America, and what is the problem? They are being compensated. When you consider that almost 50% in Iraq had other jobs, owned houses that were bought on the premise of making a certain salary, have kids that are older (closer to college), the pittance that they receive to die for a false cause in a country that doesn't want our help, really isn't worth it.

Who's Paying for Our Patriotism?: "The strategic shielding of most voters from any emotional or financial sacrifice for these wars cannot but trigger the analogue of what is called 'moral hazard' in the context of health insurance, a field in which I've done a lot of scholarly work. There, moral hazard refers to the tendency of well-insured patients to use health care with complete indifference to the cost they visit on others. It has prompted President Bush to advocate health insurance with very high deductibles. But if all but a handful of Americans are completely insulated against the emotional -- and financial -- cost of war, is it not natural to suspect moral hazard will be at work in that context as well?

A policymaking elite whose families and purses are shielded from the sacrifices war entails may rush into it hastily and ill prepared, as surely was the case of the Iraq war. Moral hazard in this context can explain why a nation that once built a Liberty Ship every two weeks and thousands of newly designed airplanes in the span of a few years now takes years merely to properly arm and armor its troops with conventional equipment. Moral hazard can explain why, in wartime, the TV anchors on the morning and evening shows barely make time to report on the wars, lest the reports displace the silly banter with which they seek to humor their viewers. Do they ever wonder how military families with loved ones in the fray might feel after hearing ever so briefly of mayhem in Iraq or Afghanistan?

Moral hazard also can explain why the general public is so noticeably indifferent to the plight of our troops and their families. To be sure, we paste cheap magnetic ribbons on our cars to proclaim our support for the troops. But at the same time, we allow families of reservists and National Guard members to slide into deep financial distress as their loved ones stand tall for us on lethal battlefields and the family is deprived of these troop"

Now, I wonder what's on tv tonight? Ooh, I see dead people. How appropriate.

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