Friday, February 04, 2005

Better Late than Never?

The Bush Administration is now all over the idea to raise survivors’ benefits for family members of those killed while on military duty. The Bushies even want to make it retroactive, at least as far back as the beginning of the current quagmire, er, I mean war in Vietnam, sorry, I mean Iraq. (Except for that tress vs. desert stuff, the two are looking more and more alike.)

The current benefit is $12,500, which is better than it was not too long ago, but still below the recommended display of affection from a middle-income man toward his wife, if we are to believe the “three months’ pay for a diamond” bullshit we see on commercials. The new benefit is supposed to be $100,000 plus a $150,000 life insurance policy with premiums paid by Uncle Sugar.

That’s better than what a lot of people in the PFC income range outside the military can afford, but there’s a catch: you have to die to collect. Life insurance, especially in the military, is like a real life Catch-22: your ass is worth a lot of money, but only if you die.

Bush’s rush to climb on the death benefits bandwagon is unseemly, as are so many of his forward-looking “ideas.” (They prefer to call them “survivors’ benefits,” but let’s face it, they’re not paying if you survive.) I wonder how of these kids’ families wouldn’t need the survivors’ benefits if our all-knowing leaders had spent some of that money on the armor Mom and Dad have had to pay for themselves and send from home.

Rumsfeld cut off a question about where the armor was from a soldier on the line by, “you go to war with the army you have.” Unfortunately, they went to war with what their leaders choose to give them. The Bush Administration used bad intelligence, wasn’t prepared for anything like how the aftermath panned out, didn’t properly arm and protect the people in harm’s way, then snuck their bodies into the country like they were smuggling drugs. I don’t care if Bush raises the death benefit to a million dollars; they deserved better.

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