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I’m off to class, but a few quick things that will surely have people stop inviting you to their holiday afterparties this year:

  1. It’s likely that the main beneficiaries of “Veterans’ Day” and other ways we celebrate Veterans are not the Veterans at all. It is almost surely the government itself (on many dimensions). The dimension I have in mind is that “being appreciated” is an attractive aspect of serving in the US armed forces. Since it seems to be valued, then this makes a US military job, ceteris paribus, more valuable than other similarly risky jobs. Therefore the US government can pay its military personnel less than it otherwise would because some of the soldiers’ compensation is provided by all of us celebrating their hard work, bravery and heroism each and every year. This may, in fact, make governments more likely to engage in wars.
  2. Remember also that it cannot be easy to make soldiers as a group better off given that any effort we make to raise soldier “compensation” above what it is now will draw soldiers into the profession until the marginal soldier is indifferent between being a soldier and the next best option. Perhaps the best way to improve the well being of soldiers is not to have Veterans’ Day, but rather instead to start offering up Plumbers Appreciation Days. ¬†And while I am on that topic:
  3. Why the military? What makes the military so special as to be deserving of a special day? It can’t be job risk. If so, then we’d have to have Deepwater Oil Rig Welder Appreciation Day, and we’d have Logger Appreciation Day … but call me crazy for not expecting those any time soon. Now, please don’t lecture me here, I am pretty well aware of why we have Veterans’ Day, but it still is useful to ask the question.
  4. But suppose you don’t care much about (1) or (2) or (3) … are the cities and communities around the country today also going to be celebrating Blackwater and Raytheon? Why not?

 

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8 Responses to “Removal from Polite Company: Veterans’ Day Edition”

  1. Harry says:

    Veterans get the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. That was yesterday. Today, though, is a day off too.

    Thus Congress bestows a goodie, and anybody who disagrees is Ebeneezer Scrooge.

    Didn’t be get invited to dinner? OK, he was not invited for the office party he did not host.

    • Harry says:

      Meant to write “he,” not “be,” as in Scrooge got invited to dinner. What I also meant to say was that Veterans’ Day fell on a Sunday. Yet we have all these federal holidays on Mondays.

      Why not give everybody at the Departments of Education, Labor, Commerce, Agriculture, and Energy every day off? Sure, we’d be paying them for doing nothing, but what is the downside of that?

  2. Martel says:

    I’m not sure I grasp the rationale for this post. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that ours is now a volunteer army, a professional army? When I served most of the soldiers either were drafted or volunteered as I did. Some of us, if not all, did it for notions of duty to defend democracy from tyranny. But whatever the rationale for serving, I have to believe that today’s professional soldier is motivated by a sense of patriotism as much or as little as those of past wars who were drafted. Contractors (most of whom are also veterans) notwithstanding, the veterans and active military are fighting wars that their government and by implication the citizens have decided are just and necessary. And yes, the advent of an all volunteer force does make deployment of military force less cautious and more likely. But that should not, in my mind, reduce the need to recognize and honor those who have served us by their bravery.

  3. Anonzmous says:

    On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, most soldiers were conscripts. Veterans Day gave people a way to feel better about sending so many conscripts off to die in the trenches.

  4. Harry says:

    I expect there is not much enthusiasm in the academy for veterans, both the pre- and post-volunteer army veterans. I realize that is not Wintercow’s point.

  5. chuck martel says:

    They can’t all be heroes or there wouldn’t be any MPs, SPs, Judge Advocates, brigs, etc.

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