Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans' Day Post #1

So Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann have gone after nutbag GOPper Jim DeMint because he was the only Senate vote against a new proposed tax credit for hiring veterans. Rachel wouldn't even have it when Chris Hayes said DeMint at least should be given credit for ideological consistency; to her, the very idea of voting against something to benefit veterans - who Maddow spent quite some time literally gushing over at the opening of the segment, going on about their "amazing" skills and "amazing" deeds - anyway, the very idea of voting against something to benefit veterans was too much for her to take.

Well, sit down for this: I'm on DeMint's side on this one - that is, on the same side of the vote and on that side to the extent that I do not believe veterans should be singled out and even more to the extent that I reject the view championed by both Maddow and Olbermann that veterans, for no other reason than that they are veterans, deserve to have jobs more than those who are not. And yes, dammit, that is exactly what they were arguing, although I doubt either would be honest enough to say it that directly.

Now, it is quite true that veterans have a higher unemployment rate than the labor force as a whole, although the figure is 9.8% rather than the 12% Maddow claimed. However, the unemployment rate among teens is 25%. In seven states and in DC it is above 30%. Should there be a special new tax credit for hiring teenagers? The unemployment rate among people with disabilities is nearly 17%. Should there be a special new tax credit for hiring folks with disabilities?

But if the unemployment rate, then, is not itself the real driving force here, what is? It must be said again: It's that they are veterans and therefore are more deserving of having a job than the rest of us.

And that simply is not true; in fact, I find it ethically offensive. Vets, like everyone else, deserve to get the help they require - but they should not be singled out for a benefit unavailable to everyone else. I will add that anyone who responds by saying if I object to "singling out" vets, I must also oppose, say, affirmative action programs or set-asides, I will answer that if you can show me how military veterans have faced a centuries-long pattern of active discrimination, you will have a point. Which you can't, so you don't.

I do want to emphasize here that the issue at hand, the one Maddow and Olbermann both addressed, was this proposed tax credit, which was just one part of the overall bill. Many, perhaps most (I haven't read the whole thing) parts of that bill are worthy proposals, including one to improve transitional assistance and training for people re-entering civilian life. They are not at issue here.

(By the way, this does go back to Maddow's effusive praise of vets' "skills." Part of the problem vets face is that many military skills have no, or very limited, civilian applications. So after, say, two years in the military, a vet comes back to civilian life in essence two years behind in education and/or experience non-vets of the same age - which would seem to explain a fair amount of the higher unemployment. In fact, Sec.222.(a)(1) of the bill calls for a study "to identify any equivalences" between skills obtained in the military and "the qualifications required for various positions of civilian employment." Apparently, at least some are aware of precisely that problem.)

One good thing about this is that it reminded me - I almost forgot - to put up the following two posts, which I now put up every Veterans' Day. The first is, I think, especially apropos since the title of the bill in question is the Pledge to Hire Heroes Act, a title which, for reasons which the following post I hope will make clear, I find at least disturbing if not offensive. It was first posted under the title "Heroics" in June 2008 and has been re-posted every Veterans' Day since. The second was originally for Memorial Day but I think it fits here as well. It, too, has been re-posted on previous Veterans' Days.

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