Thursday, December 16, 2010

Smallest Pay Raise Since 1962?

Smallest Pay Raise For Military Since 1962? 

“Last week The House passed a continuing resolution that will provide funding to keep the government operating through September 2011. The bill includes a 1.4% military pay increase for fiscal year 2011, a figure requested by the President’s proposed budget.”( Full story go to: )

Warren Martin in Basic Training 1975
The subject of military pay raises reminded me of when I joined the Army back in 1975.  I did my basic and Infantry training at Fort Polk Louisiana, got my first promotion to E-2 and went to Fort Riley Kansas, where I got my first once a month pay as a Private E-2.  After the tax deductions I had $235 cash in my hand. This was when the Army still had pay call once a month as we were paid in cash, which seemed to change to checks within a year or so and then soon after direct deposits became available. (see 1974 military pay chart below)

Now if you didn’t notice, yes I did say $235,  that was what was left over after taxes.  Over the years efforts were made to bring military pay up to the rest of the world and even in the mid 1970s and early 1980s when the economy was bad and unemployment was at 8% and 10% the military still received pay raises.  Oh yeah, contrary to what we keep hearing from the current Administration and some of the media about the worst recession since the depression of the 1930s, there were other recessions and times when unemployment was 8%-10% (see chart below).  Many of us remember the gas lines, out of gas signs and unemployment benefits not being extended.     

Long lines at the gas pumps were the norm during the 1970s
The reason for military raises and a continued policy of raises for the military every year was not to keep pace with inflation, but for military personnel to catch up with it and achieve an acceptable standard of living comparable to government employees and the civilian sector, an issue not discussed by most when the topic of military pay is addressed.
This comment in no way suggests that government employees are not deserving of the pay they receive, their pay is earned and deserved. The military pay on the other hand has been on perpetual catch up. Unlike the corporate world where the hierarchy reflects that the person making the most money holds the higher level jobs or supervisory position, it is not uncommon in the military for a military person to be in charge of a department or section of civilian employees and those civilians are paid more. Wonder how that would go over at the store, office and other workplaces?

During a time of War it is difficult for many of us to understand why the military will receive the “Smallest Pay Raise Since 1962,” and why instead of addressing and correcting issues that contribute to the economic problems, our elected officials seem to want to insist on penalizing citizens with pay freezes, more and new taxes, creating divisiveness, and adopting economic policies that have historically been proven to prolong recession and not work (another topic).
Some may argue that the current Administration is taking measures to control spending (although it has created more government jobs and agencies) to include statements that other government agencies and employees are not getting a pay raise.  This may be a good argument if it was true, however just like the military that at a minimum by law will receive 1.4% raise, the various government agencies and employees are subject to similar guarantees and contracts, they are just not going to get as much as they normally would, which is portrayed by the administration as giving an impression of sacrifice. 

The final point concerning the “Smallest Pay Raise Since 1962” is that considering the efforts and sacrifices of our military personnel, it is disappointing to see how easy it is for them to be forgotten.

“No posterity, 
you will never know how much it has cost us to preserve your freedom. 
My hope is that you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in heaven that I have took half the pains to preserve it.” John Adams

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