28 March 2007

Spinning an Idea: A Tax-Free Military

As the dreadful situation at Walter Reed and other military health facilities have come to light, more and more people are talking about the sacrifices that our military and their families are making in the course of their duty. This got me to thinking about how we value those Americans who are willing to put their lives on the line when their country asks them to.

It seems to me that these service men and women deserve more than the modest, perhaps even measly, salaries they receive for their service. Why not make the incomes of military personnel tax free? You would think with all of the handouts big businesses get from the government in the guise of tax relief, that the U.S. could easily afford giving military personnel a tax break. Of course it might mean that Exxon and friends won't get the tax breaks they so richly don't deserve.

And perhaps the tax break should be extended to all government employees whose jobs require them to risk their lives for the common good (e.g., police officers, fire fighters...) We talk a lot about supporting the troops (and the heros of 9/11 etc.) but we never seem to really back it up with action.

So what about it?

3 comments:

  1. Sorry Tom but a tax free military? Make me puke! Even the phrase "volunteer military" makes my skin crawl. There is nothing about our military that is volunteer: they apply for a job, get paid in the combination of benefits and income, and they either decide to leave or stay on the job just like any other employee. When they sign up, they know the risks, for those that say they don't, WHATEVER! If they don't like the job, don't sign up!!!! The whole Walter Reed saga is just one more example of making suckers of Americans who must be patriotic and "support our troops". Maybe we ought to get our heads out the sand and find a solution that seems to be working for the rest of the modern world. That is to create two options for all 18 year olds (whether they graduate from high school or not): volunteer for the military or volunteer for a service organization such as the Red Cross, local EMS, or the fire dept. And I mean TRULY volunteer with military being a shorter requirement with the option of paid employment once the public service component is completed. We have people across this country who are busting their hump on behalf of people and they get NOTHING out of it. I know NO ONE who has joined the military and gotten nothing from it.

    You may think that I have no right to say this as I have not been in the military. No, I have not but all of my uncles, my father (Vietnam), my husband, cousins, and many friends have done the job. Instead of the military, I volunteered 6 months without ANY pay to serve as an ambassador overseas, for 7 YEARS I also worked with developmentally disabled adults and abused adolescent females in this country, received death threats, was beat up on several occasions, and all of this was for less pay than ANY military person with NO benefits and no access to even Walter Reed. NO, these were not war mongering jobs where I was supporting the U.S. war machine, but instead they were jobs that ultimately serve to protect Americans a whole heck of a lot more than what is going on overseas.

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  2. I hate this war in Iraq. I think it was based on a pack of lies and I was opposed to it from day one. BUT, I still think that people who willingly put their lives on the line for their country deserve to be paid better than we currently pay the members of our military.

    To your point I think that there are many important jobs that go underpaid and underappreciated. I also think that national service is not a bad idea. But there is a big difference between feeling unappreciated and losing a limb or not coming home at all.

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  3. Thomas, I agree with you. Foreign Service Officers (Ambassadors, etc.) do not pay US federal or state income taxes. So it's not unprecedented (nor unusual).

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