I have written before that the middle class of the United States increasingly wears a Scarlet "E" pinned to its chest, with "E" standing for "entitlements". You can find those thoughts here, here. I've also written about the rise of the view that "taking care of our troops" and being "pro-military" increasingly means lavishing more and more social benefits upon military members, their families and retirees (here, here, here, here) This of course, in a nation drowning in the chop of its own debt.
Into this atmosphere comes the latest unspeakable injustice; it seems that the Congress, in an effort to reform what was already a far too generous VA education benefit, has capped tuition that can be paid to veterans pursuing higher education, creating a situation in which such students qualify for ADDITIONAL money in 39 states, and students in 11 states will see a cut in their benefit. Of course, those students seeing a decrease in their benefits have taken to the barricades in opposition to this crime against all that is good and proper.
I've seen a plethora of reports about this on Facebook, and on a very human level, I understand the financial shock of attending a VERY pricey university--mostly on Uncle Sugar's dime--and now having to pony up for some portion of the tuition. I get that you budgeted on the basis of a certain costshare agreement with the federal government, and that this change is going to be very discomforting. But read this article. Are we supposed to muster righteous indignation over the plight of a young man who has attended Columbia for three years on this benefit who is going to have to come up with some of his own money to finish (whoops--he chose political science as a major--bad decision, champ!). I'm just not there, folks. We are in a genuine debt emergency here, and the Congress had NO business writing this blank check to begin with. I fee bad for Mr. Boehm, but I figure he'll make it with some student loan debt and a Columbia degree. Additionally, I've seen others protest the new funding who are picking up their third degree courtesy of Uncle Sugar--and so I am unable to show any empathy.
What we're seeing here is the micro view of the macro problem. We're taking on water but no one wants to be the first to bail. Groups parade about with signs that call for cutting government spending on one side and "Hands off My Medicare" on the other. Cutting government spending is oh so popular, until people actually have to start thinking about what should be cut. It seems the only thing that gets any real support for cutting is the foreign aid account, which always disappoints those who hear how pitifully small a pot it is. Many caught in this issue urge a "grandfather clause" that states those already in the program continue to receive at the level they previously were. And so continues the buck pass to the next guy.
I'm sorry friends, especially those of you still on active duty who are going to have to dig deeper for the cash to finish your degrees. I think if you consider the big picture, and the percentage the government ultimately does pick up, you'll still see your own contribution as an investment.
Cross-Posted at Information Dissemination