Friday, March 15, 2013
Beware Of What Big Government Promises
The following is not a "pity me" story. It is offered simply as a cold, rational assessment of the level of trust you can expect from Big Government and politicians. It's not even a personal story; it's the story of a million Vietnam era vets for whom the U.S. government betrayed. Those naive enough to believe that government will "take care of you", or for that matter, even honor contract law, should read this and come to your own conclusions.
When I sat at my Air Force recruiters desk, preparing to sign my enlistment contract, I held a little pocket pay chart. My jaw dropped a bit when I saw I would be making $68.00 per month, far less than I was making picking grapes and mowing lawns. Hoping that it might get better as I rose in rank I noticed mid level sergeants, with families, were making $200 dollars per month.
My recruiter just smiled and said, "don't sweat the small stuff son", "we make less than civilian, but get a load of the benefits!". If you're man enough to make a career in the military, look at those medical bennies!". The contract read "Free Medical For Life".
Well, truth be told I signed with the Air Force because the army draft was hot on my trail...and who knows, someday I just might need that huge "medical bennie".
And each time it came time to re-enlist my career counsellor always offset the "less than civilian" pay by emphasizing that "free medical for life" clause in every contract.
And even after many years of off duty college study, and subsequent officer commission, I was making about $600 dollars per month while managing a large work force and millions of dollars in resources. About a third of what my civilian counterpart was making.
And so after 22 years in the military, three tours in Vietnam, two in South Korea, I finally retired. During my retirement briefing I was told I could walk into any military hospital and be treated, at no charge, except for any meals I consumed. Whew! Well that's going to be important to my wife and I now, said I.
Then, my masters, the U.S. government closed hundreds of military bases, as well as their hospitals. "Sorry", says the Air Force, we don't have enough beds to accommodate military retirees. Sorry, says Congress...but you still have the VA hospitals, and if you're willing to start paying premiums we've got a program for you called Tricare.
So, I began to pay premiums for that "free healthcare for life". And I still had the VA hospitals, right?
Wrong. About twenty years ago the VA said "look, we're just overrun with a few million vets we put through the grinder during Vietnam. We can't handle all of you anymore". So the VA began "means-testing" VA care. The last time I checked if you make over $24,000 a year you're not eligible for VA care.
So I've been paying my TriCare medical premiums, and my doctor co-pays and my hospital co-pays and making sure my coverage didn't lapse, leaving me without any form of medical care.
And now, I have just received a letter from my local Social Security office. It announces that I am now officially in the Medicare pool, no longer a military beneficiary, joining my fellow citizens in worrying how I'm going to fare as doctors begin dropping Medicare patients due to the Obamacare cuts to the Medicare program. The letter is my official "drop dead" from a government that paid me "less than civilian wages" but "remember the bennies".
So, as nearly as I can figure, I'm no better off than anyone else who never served in the military. And, truth be known, I am far worse off than the 30 million additional Medicaid patients Obama just added to the free medical and dental rolls under Obamacare. They pay no co-pays and have the advantage of free dental as well! Which is all good until they too are told "sorry, we just can't afford it anymore...the Chinese have stopped buying our trillion dollar annual deficits.
Moral of the story: The U.S. government is the only agency in America allowed to violate contract law. They can fool all of the people half the time...they can fool half the people all of the time...but they can't fool all the people all of the time.