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Last week I wrote a diary entitled "I'm in the military and I am overpaid." Extensive comments to the diary scolded me for insensitivity to the situation of junior enlisted service members. There was a point to that critique, so this diary is about taking a look at the compensation of our most junior enlisted members.

One of the things I've always liked about the military, frankly, is the pay balance between high and low. While the admirals and generals live better than the seamen and privates, the ratio of pay between the highest and lowest paid, in terms of basic compensation, is just a little under 10 (15,125.10 for an O-10 compared to 1531.50 for a recruit). There are few large corporations where that's the case, and I wish more of our society were compensated in that way. Also, some allowances like Basic Allowance for Subsistence, or BAS, are awarded without respect to rank.

For the purposes of this diary, I'm going to take a look at the compensation of a junior enlisted person, specifically, an E-2. This is a military member just out of boot camp, ready to begin his or her first assignment. While this member's basic pay is the same as any other E-2's, the individual's housing allowance is dependent on location and marital status. Consequently, I'm going to select the location that offers the very lowest basic allowance for housing, or BAH, in the country, which turns out to be Klamath Falls, OR 97601. In addition, I'm going to assume that this person has a spouse and one child, under the reasoning that policy doesn't permit the recruiting of people with more than two dependents.

Meet Airman John Doe. He has graduated successfully from Basic Military Training at Lackland AFB, where he began his military career right after high school, and from the F-15 Aircraft Maintenance Specialty course at Sheppard AFB. His first assignment is to the 173rd Fighter Wing at Kingsley Field, Klamath Falls, OR, which is the place where pilots go to learn to fly the F-15C. John's a little concerned about how the money situation is going to work out, since he has to support his wife Jane and their little girl, Dosie, and his First Sergeant has pointed out to him that he's going to a guard base, where there's no commissary and not a lot of amenities. He's 18 years old.

As an E-2, John receives $1,716.90 per month. Assigned to Klamath Falls, OR, he also receives a BAH of $786.00, and a BAS of $323.87, neither of which are taxable. In fact, his tax picture is very simple - because he has three exemptions (himself and two dependents), his taxable income is zero. So the only mandatory deduction from John's pay is the FICA tax. Twice a month, he has a check for 1,347.71 deposited to his account - this is his base pay of $1716.90, less the FICA tax on that amount (131.34), plus the two allowances. All told, John's total compensation is $33,921.24. This places the Doe family at 171% of the federal poverty line for a family of three, and 16% above the $29,155 household median income for Klamath Falls.

Because much of John's compensation is untaxed, however, the effective degree of compensation is greater. John's neighbor Richard, for example, earns $37,782.61 per year, also with a family of three. He's able to take advantage of the child tax credit, so his federal tax liability is only $388 per year. He also has to pay taxes to the State of Oregon, and pays more in FICA tax as well on his greater base pay. By coincidence, he is also paid twice a month, and gets the same 1,347.71.

Taxed Compensation Military Civilian
Annual Salary 20,602.80 37,782.61
Monthly Salary 1,716.90 3,148.55
Exemptions (Personal) 3.00
Standard Deduction 12,200.00
Total Exemptions 11,700.00
Taxable income - 13,882.61
Federal Income Tax - 388.00
State Income Tax 2,159.11
FICA Tax 1,576.11 2,890.37
Untaxed Compensation
Housing Allowance (Klamath Falls, OR) 786.00
Subsistence Allowance 323.87
Net Monthly Pay 2,695.43 2,695.43
It is very difficult to see how even a junior military member qualifies for food stamps unless his family size is unusually large. One can of course contrive situations where he's recruited with one child and his wife is already pregnant with twins, but in general, as John and Jane's family grows, John is likely to be promoted, which will increase both is base pay and his allowance. The Oregon SNAP benefits estimator shows no eligibility for benefits until there are 5 in the household. I haven't surveyed the real estate market in Klamath Falls, but I assumed that the Doe family was able to find a rental for the amount of the BAH - $786.00 per month. In all, I would be very surprised to find that there are more than 5,000 military families receiving SNAP benefits - and this could be easily remedied by adjusting the BAS entitlement to reflect family size.

In conclusion, when we discuss military compensation, we should be very careful to base our discussion on facts. If the problem is troops on food stamps, there's a straightforward and affordable fix to the problem - adjusting BAS or BAH to reflect family size. But even a very junior airman, with a spouse and child, living in the location with the lowest housing allowance, is 91% over the poverty line and 25% over the median income, when the tax treatment of a large portion of his or her pay is considered. How well to compensate military members is a complex policy judgment,

Originally posted to Bookends on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 12:06 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  During the late 70s early 80s (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wee Mama, angelajean, kyril, Catte Nappe

    BAQ was changed. It used to increase with the number of family members, up till 9, I think.
    BAS on the other hand is supposed to only feed the service member.
    On that I could be wrong. I retired in 96.

    Intolerance betrays want of faith in one's cause. Mohandas Gandhi

    by onceasgt on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 12:35:06 PM PDT

    •  That's correct. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mmacdDE, angelajean

      BAS is intended to feed only the servicemember. (As such, it's really very generous.)

      Basically, if you live in the barracks, the military provides you food 'in kind', so if you move out, they give the money directly to you instead.

      "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

      by kyril on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 07:58:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  this used to be called separate rats (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Catte Nappe, Eyesbright, markdd

        and was unavailable generally to the E-1 and E-2 folks with whom I served.  Living on base obviated off-base rent (can you really find a house near that base for <$750 a month?) and the need for a privately owned vehicle (gasoline, upkeep, and insurance -- yes, the military requires insurance proof if the vehicle comes on the base) to get you to/from work.

        What are average utility costs to go with that rented house? The E-1 through E-5 is not going to qualify for a mortgage, even if there's no possibility of being transferred / relocated / deployed.

        The original assumption (not obviously underpaid at 1 and slightly under 3/4 times the poverty level, for a family of 3) is very flawed IMO.

        A minimum wage job ought to keep an individual at 200% of the poverty level. An F-15 mechanic may not see combat regularly, but given the hazards of flightline shop work, when the John Doe depicted above is only 18 (when did they cut school at Keesler that short? And Basic now is nine weeks) with a wife and one child ... yep. I can see how in today's economy that basic salary looks damned good (I wasn't making much more than that in 2008, in fact).

        But in point of fact there's a lot more of those E-1s and -2s, and some -3s, who don't get separate rats 'cause they do live in the barracks and eat on base.

        LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

        by BlackSheep1 on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 11:36:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  If they live in the barracks (0+ / 0-)

          and eat on base, they're not going hungry or in any danger of homelessness. And they don't qualify for food stamps.

          Now, I rather disagree with the idea that anyone should be required to live on base after completing their training (I myself got married at the first chance I had so we could move out), but there's no question whatsoever that junior enlisted personnel living on base are not living in anything resembling poverty.

          And I really never had any trouble finding off-base housing cheap enough to be covered by BAH. Since I was married to another servicemember, we each only got single BAH, and even that alone (from one of us) was enough to cover rent and utilities in a lovely luxury apartment in northern San Diego. A lot of people got cheaper places in southern/eastern SD so they could have extra spending money, but that was their choice; the BAH was more than adequate for its intended purpose.

          "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

          by kyril on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 09:12:55 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  FWIW, 2 Bed / 1 Bath Appartments in KF, OR (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          are looking to be in the 530-650 range.  But none look to be close to the airport, so a car is needed.  I'm a lot closer to Portland and am paying $700 for a 1 bed, 1 bath apt and utilities; elec, h2o, sewer and trash, are running 120-160 per month (elec heat, no AC).  

          Around here houses and trailers were renting between $1500 - $2000, when I was looking.

          “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” Thomas Jefferson

          by markdd on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 10:27:27 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  so best case you're doing (0+ / 0-)

            $530 for the rent plus $120 for the utilities. There's the BAH gone, and you've still got to get transportation to/from the base for work....

            LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

            by BlackSheep1 on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 10:42:42 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Money magazine just reported on this... (7+ / 0-) an article last month:

    In 2011, about 5,000 active-duty military members were on food stamps, making up less than a tenth of 1% of the 44 million on food stamps, according to the USDA, which has yet to update its figures.
    I suspect that the number has risen since 2011.

    The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

    by wesmorgan1 on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 01:37:55 PM PDT

    •  why do you suspect that? n/t (4+ / 0-)

      Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

      by AaronInSanDiego on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 01:54:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  yeah, right (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        this guy is back, pitting the struggling against the struggling, I thought he was so offended by his reception last time that he'd never come back?  And why, with minimum wage being the Democratic issue that can help us keep the Senate, would anyone be blogging about the not under-paid? Humm?

        •  I don’t think that his intention is divisive (21+ / 0-)

          What it says to me is the military is fairly, and maybe even generously, compensated compared to civilian employment. The exception to this would be service in a combat zone.

          This was instructive to me, who served in Vietnam when the  lower enlisted and officer ranks were very poorly paid compared to “lifers.” This article helpfully corrects the common misconception that military personnel are poorly compensated, which is often used to argue for increases in an already obscenely bloated “defense” budget.

          •  the 'use' is more related to food stamp cuts (11+ / 0-)

            look for the motive there and then ask, why such a diary?  The number of military members on food stamps is documented.  

            You can't compare being in the military to civilian employment.

            If you join the military you give up your civil rights. You can't quit. You have to take every assignment and if you're married that often means your spouse loses a job and can't get another one or you can't live with your family.

            You often can't live with your family, or you drag your family to various places, deployments aren't just for wars, they are also for Korea and Japan. Not all soldiers get to take their families, and they can be gone years, and only back a few weeks a year for visiting. Training is often required before new assignments, and the training programs aren't likely to be near where anyone had been living and aren't long enough to get families transferred.  Dependent children have to move around and the schools aren't consistently adequate.  

            You can be sent into dangerous places and you can get killed or wounded.  If you don't obey orders you can be court marshaled and imprisoned.  People with higher rank can choose to humiliate you.  

            It's inaccurate to suppose there can be any comparison with serving your country and having a job.  You can quit a job anytime.  You can look for a better job while you're working at one. You can enroll in a college and stay in that place long enough to finish your degree. You may have to pay for your own education, but it's the education you want, not the education the military needs even though there may be no civilian counterpart.

            I don't think this diarist is in the military at all. I think he works for the Koch's.  

            •  And completely disregards the 24/7 nature of (17+ / 0-)

              military service.

              And in the latest news, the Pentagon wants to reduce pensions and offer 401k plans instead. Yep, more money for Wall Street to play with and less chance of a secure retirement if you survive the rigors of military service.

              •  I think that's totally stupid (10+ / 0-)

                the pension is a big part of what keeps people in for 20+, especially people in the technical fields.

                And most especially enlisted. Officers do pretty well, but lots of time enlisted with in-demand specialties can make way more on the outside. What keeps them in once they pass 10 yrs is the pension at 20.

                That's going to be the bulk (or all) of your house payment when you retire. Depending on where and what rank you retire at and what kind of house you buy, it might cover even more.

                That's really helpful when you're basically starting over. It's a nice cushion. You don't always find a job making a lot when you retire. Some do, not all, and if you DON'T have one of those in-demand skills, you might not find much at all.

                Considering that most enlisted retire from the military well before 50, a 401k is worse than useless. And besides, there's nothing stopping you from setting one up if you really want to.

            •  Documented? Where? (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              slothlax, Mostserene1
              look for the motive there and then ask, why such a diary?  The number of military members on food stamps is documented.
              The most recent firm numbers I could find were those from the USDA in 2011 (as cited by Money magazine last month).

              Everything else I've seen has fallen into the "wild guess" category.

              Do you have hard numbers more recent than 2011?

              The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

              by wesmorgan1 on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 04:56:40 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  oh, I am so busted (6+ / 0-)

                look, if you want to get into this mind-frame, okay, I won't try to keep the egg from the face. This guy is a troll, he's sucking the so-called left here into agreeing that the military guys make out just fine and can survive the proposed cuts.  

                I interview the discharged wounded, so I probably have the wrong perspective, they probably didn't serve their country and then have to wait for help, their marriages didn't end at three times the rate of civilians, they get to see their kids because they never got addicted to anything or acted out in some way that could be held against them, their suicide rates are just average, not a lot higher, and all of them found jobs after discharge and none of them are now homeless, and if a very very few serving soldiers' families are on food stamps, really, can't be very many, and since there are no current statistics, if it's gone up, no way to prove it and who cares anyway, but surely not after the soldier was discharged and right away found his or her good paying job in the welcoming private sector.  

                They can obviously all wait a long as it takes for services. They were paid plenty and they knew what they were getting into, let 'em eat cake.

                If fake lefties are sick of thanking soldiers, and don't want to consider what has happened to their bodies, let alone lives, well, don't bother, it isn't your problem.   And if Koch Bros. Inc. agrees with you, it's a coincidence.  After all, no one was underpaid, obviously.  So what more do they want.  

                It's very important for everyone to blog their true feelings on DK so those not-underpaid soldiers who blog here will know what you think, and so the Koch's can use your remarks in one of their ads.  

                •  I don't demean your experience, but... (13+ / 0-)

                  ...none of this:

                  I interview the discharged wounded, so I probably have the wrong perspective, they probably didn't serve their country and then have to wait for help, their marriages didn't end at three times the rate of civilians, they get to see their kids because they never got addicted to anything or acted out in some way that could be held against them, their suicide rates are just average, not a lot higher, and all of them found jobs after discharge and none of them are now homeless, and if a very very few serving soldiers' families are on food stamps, really, can't be very many, and since there are no current statistics, if it's gone up, no way to prove it and who cares anyway, but surely not after the soldier was discharged and right away found his or her good paying job in the welcoming private sector.  

                  They can obviously all wait a long as it takes for services. They were paid plenty and they knew what they were getting into, let 'em eat cake.

                  has nothing to do with the question of financial compensation.

                  I asked for some hard numbers because we can't talk about what is required to fix the problem until we have such numbers. (Personally, speaking as someone who used to wait for those middle-of-the-night phone calls from the other side of the world, NO amount of salary increase is adequate compensation.)

                  You can rant to your heart's content, but until we figure out how much it will cost to do what is necessary, what good will it do? Whether you agree with this guy's analysis or not, it's the first diary I've seen here that has even attempted to put the question into dollar figures - and that isn't a Bad ThingTM.

                  The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

                  by wesmorgan1 on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 05:34:45 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  yes it does (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    88kathy, grover

                    we don't have that right.  That's my point.  it's offensive for civilians to discuss soldiers wages, or the acceptable percentage of food stamps for families of serving solders.  It's disgusting. I don't understand why that is hard to see.  I don't understand why this guy is getting away with it, and here.

                    •  you know he's active duty right? (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      kyril, JerryNA

                      So does that still make it offensive?

                      •  he says he is (8+ / 0-)

                        he said 23 years, and then he said something that made it sound like not very long, cause he still could try for a promotion which would make no sense unless he's staying more years, and that makes no sense if you know the military.

                        You know he's an anonymous blogger, no?  You know he joined DK and wrote a diary about overpaid military personnel before he'd commented anywhere else? You know in the first one I also called him out, and he didn't address me? I haven't given my profession, most of us don't, and I've been here many years and yet I expect to be challenged if I claim expertise.  Why would anyone accept that this guy is who he claims to be, when he gets civilians talking about whether or not soldiers are overpaid?  

                        It truly is offensive, and if it's okay because he says he's military, well I find that even more suspicious.  I am not used to people getting away with claiming to be something with no facts, he won't say which branch, or what his work is, and getting away with it.  

                        •  Ummm, I have a buddy (11+ / 0-)

                          That I served with.  He has been in for 28 years and plans to retire at 30 years.  My father stayed in for 28 years.  My neighbor retired after 30 years.

                          So yeah, it isn't unusual to stay over 20.

                          I can say from experience that his numbers are pretty accurate.  Also note, he isn't saying that they should cut pay for enlisted, he is saying that for young individuals just out of high school, they are well compensated.

                          I don't know what your issue is with this diary.  Do you think that all service members are Victims?  I resent that notion.  I am proud of my service.  Did I bitch about my pay?  Of course I did!  But only because I had a specialized skill which paid 4 times my military pay in the civilian world.

                          •  why isn't he answering this? (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            BlackSheep1, wildweasels

                            it's not whether his numbers are accurate, but what his agenda is in inciting civilians to discuss the worth of soldiers.  

                          •  he said maybe a promotion (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Eyesbright, wildweasels

                            not maybe stay in longer, maybe work for a promotion.

                            Ask your buddies how likely that is to be true?  Have to be new training and then a new time commitment?  He won't say what branch or what he does, only that he's overpaid and could live well on less.  With just that information do your buddies think any branch of the military would train him so he would stay longer and make more?

                          •  ever heard of RIF? (4+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            anna shane, angelajean, dksbook, ER Doc

                            Reduction in Force is a thing in the Air Force, and it's driven by nothing more than the beancounter division up at Fort Fumble  trying to make more money for the contractors whose toys are never really ready on time or budget by screwing over the serving people in the uniforms -- you know, the cooks and clerks and grunts and mechanics and air-traffic controllers and weather forecasters and fuels-maintenance (aka the service-station or gas-truck staff) down in those "lower enlisted" ranks.

                            I have a great idea. Lay off the beancounters. Make the contractors deliver on time and on budget or fire them.

                            LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

                            by BlackSheep1 on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 11:48:05 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  it is pretty weird (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            BlackSheep1, dksbook

                            to find men and women who served not getting a chance to work until retirement.   We have a lot of unemployed vets. I tried to get the town where i live to make a priority of hiring vets, and I am ashamed to say that the town leaders worried that there would be mental issues and so they refused.  No vets on the police force.  Not even vets as administrators.

                          •  that's a throwback to the media's panicmongery (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            anna shane

                            been going on since the original "Hawaii Five O" and "Medical Center" tv shows featured 'Nam vets coming home going nuts, taking hostages, etc.

                            Are there problems and is mental health care inadequate? Damn straight.

                            Is every vet a bomb looking for a place to go off?
                            Hell no.

                            Caveat: No more than anybody else who's not part of the well-cushioned 1%.

                            LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

                            by BlackSheep1 on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 02:35:18 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  exactly (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            but the perception hurts vets civilian job opportunities.  

                          •  we do tend (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            anna shane

                            to tolerate less in the way of accumulating BS, though.

                            LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

                            by BlackSheep1 on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 05:47:31 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  This isn't at all mysterious.. (4+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Catte Nappe, VALuddite, mmacdDE, MS103127

                            .. to anyone who is in the military. The diarist is an O-5, who has probably just come up on his O-6 board, and is exploring the options of waiting for those board results to be released and accepting the promotion, or perhaps leaving the service and starting a new career. 22-23 years is about the time you come up on O-6 in the normal scheme of things.

                            Last year the O-6 board for the Navy met in January and released its results in June if I recall correctly. A substantial delay between being selected for promotion by the board and getting the list through the Senate is not uncommon.

                            As many others have pointed out, I think you've read a bit of an agenda into the diary that isn't there.

                          •  really (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            he said he's overpaid, and probably won't try for a promotion, but he may?  He said nothing about waiting for board results, he just said he could be overpaid even more if he went for a promotion.  You're answering for him, he's not defending his point by explaining it.  

                            What is his point if it's not to get the lefties comparing civilian jobs with military jobs and agreeing that the military pays either enough or too much and military personnel can afford  to take some cuts in pension and benefits? When were these not Koch memes? These ideas form the basis for not needing a minimum wage because the private sector pays what work is worth, and for the government giving money away, and for the main problem being deficits and the main solution, finding savings out of working people's pockets?

                            Why would someone think to write this sort of diary here?  

                      •  he's a 20-year-plus guy claiming he makes (5+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Simian, wildweasels, dksbook, ER Doc, mmacdDE

                        too much for what he does, so, yeah, I'm offended.

                        Not that there isn't sense in limiting the upper compensation so it doesn't exceed the lower compensation by some unholy algorithm. That's fine by me and I wish to Ceiling Cat, FSM and all the gods it could be a law, so we didn't have Jack Welch clones getting filthy rich, writing books on how to screw over the working people.

                        Should there be exceptions? Sure. But they shouldn't be for greed -- they should be for wizardry. For example: Bill Gates never did anything except try to give people what they wanted -- that's an entrepreneur in my book and he should make enough to encourage others. But the whole Wall-Street insider /corporate-ladder-to-a-platinum parachute culture is offensive to me, and when we've got men and women in this country's armed services whose families are on food stamps (don't get me started on firefighters, EMTS and cops whose families are on food stamps, I will rant and rave) and some REMF tells me an E-1 at 171% of the poverty level isn't obviously overpaid, excuse me but he's a compleat troll and his POV absolutely SUCKS.

                        LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

                        by BlackSheep1 on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 11:44:54 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                    •  Offensive to discuss how to fix it? (13+ / 0-)

                      Let me put it to you from a slightly different perspective.

                      1) I'm a veteran.

                      2) I agree with you that it's absolutely abominable that we have servicemembers on food stamps. That must be remedied.

                      3) We can't craft a solution until we know the nature of the problem. Are there geographic factors, as we address in BAH but not in BAS?

                      4) How do we best address the net imbalance in pay between single and married service members?  

                      We can't do this without rather specific discussion. I think it's essential for civilians to discuss it.

                      The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

                      by wesmorgan1 on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 06:14:38 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  if the problem is food stamps (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        88kathy, dksbook

                        which I don't see as the problem, there are food stamps, the food stamp program is great, except of course with the new cuts possibly those in the military may no longer qualify and then they may go hungry, like some other Americans will.

                        But why does that mean that we need to solve a so-called imbalance in pay between single and married service members?

                        Why do any increases have to be offset by equal cuts, why does someone have to give up something so that someone else can get more?

                        That's the Republican meme, we can't raise benefits for soldiers who currently qualify for food stamps without offsets from higher paid military personnel?  

                        We can't just pay them more?

                        Or we can't just remove the food stamp cuts so they'll still qualify?  

                        Get it now?

                      •  Why is it abominable (5+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        slothlax, mmacdDE, lgmcp, dksbook, 2dot

                        that we have servicemembers on food stamps?

                        Do we have to pay junior enlisted personnel enough to support any arbitrarily-large number of dependents? Why?

                        Why is it unreasonable to pay them enough to comfortably support themselves and a small number of dependents, and then in the rare cases where they have a larger number of dependents relying on a single income early in their career, use a means-tested program to fill the gap?

                        As a veteran, I believe I was extremely well-compensated during my time in the Navy. My cash income alone was roughly double what I could have earned with similar education and work experience as a civilian. Add medical care and the GI  Bill and I was very, very comfortable. Could I have supported 4 kids and a stay-at-home spouse? No, but I didn't have 4 kids and a stay-at-home spouse. If I had, I would have understood that I was unusual. It really takes a significant effort to acquire more dependents than one can support.

                        And if I had managed to put myself in that situation, I wouldn't have been offended at the suggestion that I should apply for food stamps. I would have been grateful for the program - as I am now, since I'm on food stamps because I can't even find a civilian job (now with a bachelor's degree and substantial work experience) that pays enough to support one person.

                        "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

                        by kyril on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 08:12:11 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Here are some hard numbers... (4+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          JerryNA, BlackSheep1, Bookends, dksbook

                          There are factors at work beyond "deciding to have a bunch of kids." Here are a few to consider...

                          (Source: 2012 Demographics Profile of the Military Community, DoD)

                          You mentioned

                          the rare cases where they have a larger number of dependents relying on a single income early in their career
                          - but the unemployment rate of active duty spouses in the civilian work force is 25 percent. (p. 125 of the document linked above)  It also reports that 13% of military spouses are actively looking for work, but are currently unemployed. (p.125) Either way, that suggests that a significant number of military families are effectively forced into single-income situations even before children are considered.

                          You wrote

                          Could I have supported 4 kids and a stay-at-home spouse? No, but I didn't have 4 kids and a stay-at-home spouse.
                          That's true - but neither do the majority of service members.The average number of children among service members who have children is 2.0; the average number of dependents in that group is 2.9.. (p. 128) So the average military family with children totals 4 people, not "4 kids and a stay-at-home spouse."

                          Here's something else most folks don't realize - we have 72,400 single parents on active duty. That's more than 5% of the total active duty force. (p. 130)

                          In addition, there are almost 11,000 active duty members supporting adult (23 years and older) dependents. (p. 134) 75% of those adult dependents are 51 years of age or older.

                          There's far more to it than just "soldiers deciding to have kids." In fact, I would suggest that these additional factors strengthen the argument that we need to address the problem - unless you want to make the argument that those single-parent military families and those families with adult dependents are all just out of luck.

                          The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

                          by wesmorgan1 on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 09:40:38 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Great data (0+ / 0-)

                            I hadn't run across the demographics report previously. Thank you.

                          •  Draws a much different picture than one expects... (0+ / 0-)

                            I was stunned by the number of single parents in the military, and by the number of those caring for older adult dependents.

                            It definitely exposed a blind spot in my thinking; I've always asserted that the military reflects our society in many ways, but for some reason I hadn't considered that they would do so in these areas.

                            I don't know that our current pay structure addresses the needs of these soldiers very well. The childcare costs for single parents alone can eat up a significant chunk of one's paycheck.

                            The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

                            by wesmorgan1 on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 05:34:08 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I know this (0+ / 0-)
                            That's true - but neither do the majority of service members.The average number of children among service members who have children is 2.0; the average number of dependents in that group is 2.9.. (p. 128) So the average military family with children totals 4 people, not "4 kids and a stay-at-home spouse."
                            and the average military family is not on food stamps. The ones who qualify for food stamps are rare exceptions who do have more children (or other dependents) than they can afford.

                            I'm not saying that those exceptions shouldn't receive assistance to make sure they and their dependents are fed. I'm just saying that I don't understand why it's such a travesty that we feed them with food stamps.

                            I think this reaction plays into the idea that SNAP is a terrible, shameful thing. It's not. It's a vital program that we shouldn't be ashamed of when it's used exactly as intended.

                            "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

                            by kyril on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 09:04:13 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                      •  Compensation (0+ / 0-)

                        The word is compensation.  Military base Pay is  set by Congress on a scale which factors in  Time in service in 2 year increments and  pay grade. It is adjusted for  teh 80% CPI cost of living  federal adjustment, just like any other  Federal employee. The military SELDOM gets a "pay raise". They get 80% of last year's inflation rate,  so they are always  1 year +20% behind inflation, it compounds.

                    •  What? (7+ / 0-)
                      it's offensive for civilians to discuss soldiers wages
                      No.  Wrong.  The military is publicly funded.  We can discuss the wages of ANY public servant.  And we SHOULD.   By all means make the case for higher wages, but do NOT tell us it's none of our business.

                      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

                      by lgmcp on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 12:36:22 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  of course you can (0+ / 0-)

                        anyone can be offensive if they choose to. I make no case for either, but to make a case to cut military pay and benefits because you pay taxes is 'tea party' talk, and deficit reduction talk, and to equate civilian jobs to military service is ignorant, not bad just not informed, and so if someone does that and claims to be overpaid, I question whether they work for Uncle Sam or for Brother Koch.  Not you, the diarist.

                        •  Your good points are so mixed with bad ones (0+ / 0-)

                          that it's hard to take you seriously.

                          I repeat, it is in NO WAY offensive for the public to rationally discuss military salaries, or any other publicly-funded salaries, or for that mattter any salaries of any kind, ie CEO salaries, union and non-union salaries, congressional salaries, you name it.  That's just not rational, what you're saying there.  You should really consider knocking it the hell off.  

                          Nor did the diarist in this diary advocate cutting pay or benefits.  However, I grant you, that his argument that junior personnel are fairly compensated, COULD be used to further cost-cutting campaigns.  And, coming out of the blue as it were, he could well be what we used quaintly to call a concern troll.  However, my position is that calm, cohesive arguments should be fairly addressed on their own merits.  We don't need to get hysterical about the presence among us of those of differing views -- if they express themselves courteously, they can be refuted in like manner.

                          As for equating military service to civilian employment, certainly there a large and important differences.  But when we're discussing dollars and cents, as even liberals sometimes must, where else shall we start?  Cash compensation is a common yardstick, even if it's reasonable to argue that important additional factors should be added to the scales.

                          "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

                          by lgmcp on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 08:06:08 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  I disagree (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            and I have given the reasons.  You may think that I am wrong by pointing out the assumptions that have to have been made  by the diarist and those who accept this is a valid progressive issue, and debunking them, which I did because they obviously look 'reasonable' to a few lefties who think because military is too big, cuts in pay and benefits make sense to discuss on a liberal blog.

                            There is no comparison between civilian jobs and military service, as I and others have pointed out.  There is no reason to accept that the base should be what the private sector pays firemen (especially when the private sector pays three times as much as the military for outsourced military jobs?)  

                            I have certainly not been hysterical, I have been clear and consistent. I have challenged him directly to defend his 'point,' and he hasn't.  He hasn't answered anyone's questions, not just mine, when he's asked something he gives more statistics as if that were the question, a la mitt, he'll answer the questions he wants to answer?

                            Look, even the CEO's get hurt and pissed when we talk about their status, what do you think some solider who's had six deployments and lost a marriage and can't see his kids thinks about you assuming equity between dangerous civilian jobs and his job, and assuming the base should be what civilian jobs pay, and then concluding he's overpaid or at the least been getting a very good deal.  Think that will make him feel good?  Think that's a necessary correction to some idea we don't have that soldiers are are saviors? You think they want to hear that some lefties are sick of thanking them, that they signed up and they were very well compensated? (I have heard that before, but not here, from right wingers who resent military benefits.)

                            He starts with a wrong premise, that we think the military underpays, and then he 'proves' they're not underpaid? He says he's overpaid, ergo?   Ick.

                          •  A few words of explanation (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            I joined DailyKos to post diaries and leave comments and so forth because I have the time for it these days, and I have always had the inclination. I have lurked around the Daily Kos site for a long time - when Dante Atkins was still Hekebolos, Laura Clawson was still MissLaura, Georgia Logothetis was still Georgia10, and when MSOC was still welcome here. You've been around here, more actively, about as long as I have. I refrained from posting partially because of a mild apprehension about a serving officer being an active participant in political discussions, and partly because I frankly did not have the time. My branch of the service had much more involving things for me to do in 2006 until fairly recently. The character of my service these days allows a bit more free time, and I find myself with some fairly strong thoughts about not just the military compensation system, but many other subjects besides. Some of the diaries I intend to write have to do with force structure, policy issues, actual rather than perceived defense requirements, and other matters that oblige me to be discreet. It is for this reason that I respectfully decline to post which branch of the service I am in, what my precise duty station is, or other matters that would lead you, or others, to determine who I am exactly. This is discretion, not cowardice, and not by any means trolling.

                            You have stated on several occasions, among the roughly 70 comments to the 500 or so that have shown up to the two diaries I have posted, that military service cannot be compared to civilian service. That appears not to be the case. Like nearly every O-5 stationed in the National Capital Area, I am in undisputed command of a small but perfectly adequate desk. The work I do is indistinguisable even at a quantum level from the work my colleagues do, most of whom are civilians. That is just fine - it's a good idea to have people who have previously, in their military careers, been more active, participate in the management of the larger military enterprise. For wise reasons, that enterprise is managed by civilians - from the President, through the Secretary, down through several other links to me, and down past me to many many others. We are all on the same team.

                            The reason I chose the military pay issue for my first diary was twofold. First, it was timely, because of Secretary Hagel's speech a few weeks ago, and because when I was running the numbers, I discovered to my astonishment that there was a perfectly persuasive argument that I was being compensated more generously than my boss, my boss' boss, and my boss' boss' boss. The military has received a pay raise every year, and civilian pay was frozen for at least three years until now. And at least in this assignment, I do the same work. My pay depends in part on things I have done, rather than things I am currently doing. That seemed unfair to me, and I didn't think it untoward to say so. With, you know, actual numbers and stuff. I didn't start a discussion of military compensation this month; the Secretary of Defense did.

                            The response to that diary was a big surprise to me. I have no idea precisely how the Community Spotlight and rec list are determined, but the torrent of comments, especially the scolding, caused me to rethink my perspective a bit, and consider the case of a junior enlisted person. Hence my second diary. I went to some lengths to find the least-well compensated person I could imagine, and the conclusion I drew from the actual numbers was that the case I considered was not obviously underpaid. Arguably underpaid? Sure. You could make a case for that. To do so, you'd have to offer a compensation level that you thought was fair, and justify it. I wasn't prepared to do that, but I couldn't see how to make an argument in the opposite direction, either. Hence the title. I wasn't trying to pick a cherry, but to pick a lemon.

                            I infer from your comments that you're unclear as to how military promotions work for officers. Each year, or when I change jobs, my performance in my assigned duty is evaluated by my immediate superior, ranked among my peers, and reviewed by his or her superior. The report becomes part of my permanent record. Promotion boards are scheduled, roughly annually, for all the officers who have served for a certain number of years depending on their grade. If I'm an O-5 with the right number of years of service, it's pretty much automatic that my management chain will generate a promotion recommendation for me, and that, plus the performance reports and other data about my service like my assignment history, will be sent to the promotion board. That board will meet, rank all the officers in consideration, and the ones at the top of the stack will be promoted, down to the number of promotions they are allotted to offer by the personnel system. I describe this system to clarify that it's not something I ask for. I can separate from service, of course, but if I'm in the right place at the right time, my unit will generate a promotion recommendation for me. That recommendation may be adverse, of course, but if I'm doing a good job in my current duty and show progression in responsibility and capability indicating potential to serve in a higher grade, it's more than possible that I will be promoted. Promotions are not a reward for past service, but an assessment that the officer is ready to accept more responsibility and serve in a greater capacity.

                            Finally, you've said a couple of times that military members are "owned", that they "have no rights". This is also not the case. We have a Uniform Code of Military Justice, which offers protections to both the military as a whole, and to the rights of individual service members. Of course I can be ordered to go places I would prefer not to go and perform duty I would prefer not to perform. I volunteered for that, and knew what the deal was before I started. The same is true of nearly everyone else I have ever served with, stop-loss provisions being a rare exception to that practice. On a very personal level, I find the suggestion that anyone "owns" me to be profoundly distressing, but in the interests of fostering an actual discussion of defense matters, based on facts and reasoning, I am obliged to set that aside.

                            Feel free to dispute my facts. I've sourced mine as best I can, but perhaps there are better or more recent or more thorough ones available. Feel free to dispute my reasoning - if I have made an error I am happy to acknowledge it, correct it, and learn. I would prefer you not dispute my motives. I've done my best to explain them in my diaries and this post, but ultimately, they don't matter. Either the data and the reasoning are so, or they are not. This is a reality based community, and the military are servants of the larger public. Discussing military compensation, calmly, and rationally, as I have attempted to do, is not out of bounds.

                    •  Bunk. (6+ / 0-)

                      It is our right as individuals to discuss soldiers wages. I'm guessing you don't have a problem with our discussing them when our conclusions agree with yours.

                      The diarist is providing facts. You aren't. That's why he is "getting away with it." Its called being a part of a reality-based community. That's what you do, provide facts and have discussions. You are providing no facts and seem to only be interested in shutting off discussion, or at least discussion where some people disagree with you.

                      I won't believe corporations are people until Texas executes one. Leo Gerard.

                      by tgrshark13 on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 02:01:02 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  and who says necessary? (4+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    nocynicism, 88kathy, grover, dksbook

                    we don't accept the debt reduction argument, we think it's a bogus way of pitting the middle class against the lower middle class. We think there should be stimulus, and in fact we would argue that the military is the only stimulus spending measure that congress will allow, and so even overspending on useless military hardware helps the economy.  

                    When did cutting the military become necessary?  Where did anyone get the idea that we'd spend it on the poor, or on education or on anything else if it weren't for the military?  We still have a Republican congress, and if they want to cut pensions because they want to, that does not mean we think it's necessary.

                    That is also a Koch meme, we need to cut spending. We have cut spending, we need to spend more not less, at least that's what we think, here, we lefties.

                •  Excellent points.... (0+ / 0-)

                  ....thank you for what you do. :)

                  When I commented that the OP was spot-on, I meant -- from experience -- that E-1 through E-3/E-4 pay is pretty comparable to entry-level civilian jobs under normal circumstances.

                  If a junior enlisted member decides to blow their pay on X,Y,Z, and then wants food stamps, sorry, no....

                  However, and you articulated this perfectly, what about the wounded service-member, or the family that experiences the death of a father or mother from war unexpectedly?  These situations damn well require assistance from the government.

              •  Military families spent $103.6 Million ... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                dksbook, anna shane

                in food stamps at military grocery stores last year.  That figure has grown X4 just since 2006.  I've no doubt some additional amount was also spent at civilian grocery stores but that figure isn't tracked.

                Here's a fairly good article with a chart showing the figures for each year since 2006:

                Food stamp use among military rises again

                They don't win until we quit fighting!

                by Eyesbright on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 01:30:21 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  He's pulling a Koch Block? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              anna shane

              Now they have the 2nd (safety net for sloppy) Amendment, and can't be infringed to actually treat their gun like a gun and not a video game controller.

              by 88kathy on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 07:48:23 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Good points till the end (9+ / 0-)

              Your contrast between the rights of civilians and the military is spot on.  Different jobs and different demands.  As a veteran, I appreciate them.

              I think ending by suggesting the author is a troll is uncalled for and undercuts the effectiveness of your message.

              I think the diarist's research and points are valid.  I think you are adding some thought provoking context.  No need to throw rocks.

              This is a complex subject.  A E2 who is sitting safely in Oregon may seem to be making a lot of cash for a high school grad.  An E4 patrolling the Iraqi countryside at night is a massively underpaid sonofabitch.

              When you enlist, you can be moved, without input from you - from one status to the other in a few days (talk to some of the National Guardsmen who were rolled into Iraq for long tours).

              This discussion doesn't have to be a team sport where you win and the diarist loses, or visa versa... we are looking for the closest we can come to truth, right?

              •  I completely agree, LeftofCenter (8+ / 0-)

                I am a retired military officer with over 21 years active duty.  Anna has made some shameful and baseless attacks on the diarist.  

                His diary rings true to me, although I think pay equity is certainly debatable as, was pointed out, military members give up certain rights.  But for some members of society, the military provides employment and educational opportunities not easy to find in some parts of the country.  And it is voluntary.  

                I want to point something else out.  Readers would be shocked to learn how many military members, especially officers (chiefly due to the higher education), are progressive to varying degrees.  

                Calling progressive military Dkos members trolls or tools of Koch does nothing to serve our goals, and in fact, may deter military members from joining and participating in this community.

                •  are you? (0+ / 0-)

                  another self-proclaimed military person? His dairy rings true to you?  You did join February 28, 2014, no?  

                  •  You could disagree without calling everyone a (4+ / 0-)

                    troll. Nobody could prove anything and it doesn't advance the discussion.

                    •  i don't call everyone a troll (0+ / 0-)

                      this is the first time.  Why won't he respond to me? Why won't he say which branch or what he does or what his point is.  

                      •  No, just the people who disagree with you. n/t (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        I won't believe corporations are people until Texas executes one. Leo Gerard.

                        by tgrshark13 on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 02:07:02 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  no (0+ / 0-)

                          I don't disagree with his facts, they may be right, I wonder why someone wants to argue for military pay cuts on a well-known liberal blog under the guise of 'discussion,' by comparing civilian pay to military pay, pitting worker against worker in liberal language, and why he won't answer my questions to him.  

                          You think I agree with everyone except this fellow, and that's proven by my calling only this one a troll?  Why not think, maybe she's right, I'll read him more closely and see if I can find a liberal/progressive reason to 'discuss' military 'over-compensation?'

                          Since no one has claimed the military is underpaid, since that isn't anyone's talking point, then refuting it is weird.

                          We liberals like the food stamp program, we don't see food stamps as a source of shame, we don't think people on food stamps are lazy takers, and we don't think it's terrible if someone joins the military at a low rank and has enough kids to qualify accepting them.  When the pay goes up, the need for assistance goes down.

                          This isn't an anti-food stamp liberal site. Or a workers are paid too much liberal site. Or a private sector knows the correct  pay liberal site.  Or a we must reduce the deficit liberal site.  Or a no need for a minimum wage liberal site. Or the military should pay people of the same rank and same experience differently based on evaluation of individual worth liberal site. We see those things as rife for abuse. The private sector may (and frequently does) pay African Americans, women and Hispanics less, the military doesn't.

                          get it?

                  •  I'm curious why you seem to question (4+ / 0-)

                    the bona fides of commenters who state that they are military, either active or retired.  And does it really matter which branch of service the diarist is in?  I'm a retired O-5 (Navy, fyi), and I don't think he's a troll just because he states that he personally feels overpaid.  He took a lot of flak on his previous diary for not addressing the enlisted side of things, which he attempts to correct with this diary.  Compensation is a complex issue and I think the DoD does a pretty good job of trying to get it right.  They recognize the difference in cost of living for various locales, from Pearl Harbor, HI, to Klamath Falls, OR, and they make adjustments so as not to unfairly compensate, either too much or too little, a service member who is sent to either place.  The personnel piece of the DoD budget has to be looked at.  It is not sacrosanct.  And civilians have every right to be informed and weigh in on this issue.

                    "The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now." - Chinese proverb

                    by VALuddite on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 03:25:20 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  only this one (0+ / 0-)

                      he's making a rightwing point.  He didn't answer my questions.  I have never before questioned anyone's claim, and it's always just a claim, but with no history at all before he felt compelled to tell us that the idea (that wasn't anyone's idea here) that we underpay out military, can be refuted by compensation comparisons with the private sector.

                      to believe that you have to believe the 'jobs' are equivalent and that the private sector doesn't underpay.

                      I didn't just call him a troll, I made a case and he didn't answer.

                  •  "self-proclaimed"??? (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Jackson L Haveck

                    I am a disabled veteran on VA and SS disability.  How dare you question my military service?

                    Are military members, former, retired, or active, welcome here are or we not?  I would like to know.

                    •  you joined February 28th (0+ / 0-)

                      self-proclaimed is fact. You blog under the mane "mostserene1"  

                      I don't question anyone's military service, I am obviously pro-vet, and I have years of consistency to 'prove' it, but we are both anonymous bloggers and can claim to be anything.  

                      You'd need some consistency over time or you'd need to give your real identity if you wanted anyone to believe you based on your self-claim.  Since his diary 'rings true' for you and that's the first comment you've made here and I said pretty clearly that I doubt this guy's creds, not just his motives, why would I then say, oh, yes, Mosterene1 is a vet and it's true to him, ergo? Of course I am going to doubt you too, if you chime in for this guy.

                      I know lots of vets, and not one thinks they were over-compensated.   None think you can equate civilian jobs to military service or that compensation should be equivalent. So, why would you?  

                      Or is it that you know a lot of officers who think they are overpaid? Or know a lot of service men and women who thinks civilian jobs and serving the nation is equivalent?  

                      What is it that rings so true to you?

                      •  FYI, I was very active on Kos pre-2008 (0+ / 0-)

                        but went silent due to medical issues.  I forgot my password and had to re-register.  

                        And long time military members can kinda tell if another one is genuine by the language, text, and other cues.  Just like members of other groups can read each other (except Kos, where the distrust level is through the roof).


                •  I agree as well. (7+ / 0-)

                  I think the diary, and his first are well reasoned, researched and written.

                  As a Navy "mustang" retiree (joined as enlisted, commissioned and retired as an officer) of almost 18 years (and before you look anna, a DKos member since 2008), I agree with Mostserene1 that bookends diary rings true to me.

                  Yes, a military life can be demanding, but not always so. It can be dangerous, but not all jobs and not at all times. It can be demanding and you do have to endure family separations, but it isn't all bad/all sacrifice/all the time. If it were, the all volunteer force would never work past the first enlistment.

                  I may be a different type of military retiree but I never saw what I did as my patriotic duty; I saw it as a job. Of course part of that might be my detachment from shooting (I was enlisted on nuclear submarines and an officer in healthcare administration). I am one of those who don't feel comfortable with people thanking me for my service. I did nothing out of the ordinary and am somewhat offended by placing the military on pedestals by the right wing who most of the time see them as tools or props for photo ops or to make them feel okay for wending them in to do the dirty work overseas.

                  Bottom line though is that I think the diary does add a lot to the discussion and also is written with facts for those who ever served to get a realistic picture of military compensation.

                  •  Agree (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
           somewhat offended by placing the military on pedestals...

                    "The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now." - Chinese proverb

                    by VALuddite on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 03:28:22 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  that's an odd point (0+ / 0-)

                      I have never heard of liberals putting soldiers on pedestals.  We were against that war too, I feel terrible for the kids who lost limbs, or minds to addiction, or their marriages and relationships with their children, just so that Bush could try to get his friends a better deal on oil.  We don't valorize war or soldiering.  (We know moms and dads will never get over losing their son or daughter in that war.)

                      We just recognize that it isn't like a normal job, and that there are more ways to make vets feel bad then spiting at them and calling them baby killers.  We respect the troops for what they suffered and for what our government did to them.  

                      It's not okay to say, it's just like civilian jobs, they can be as underpaid as anyone in a civilian job, we can discuss cutting their compensation because we agree with the tea party and Koch on the need to reduce the deficit, and anyway they can live on less and if they feel bad or insulted or depressed, hey, we pay taxes we have a right to debate the price tag for human lives.   (when you join the military you are owned, you don't have civil rights because you are property of the government)

                  •  so what's your point? (0+ / 0-)

                    Do you means you think civilian and military are equivalent?  You think the standard should be civilian pay, because it's market driven and so never overpays, and so the discussion must be military overpayments not civilian under-compensation?

                    You never wanted to quit so it was no big deal to you that you couldn't? You didn't like civil rights anyway?  You were fine leaving two years before the 20, it was your own choice? You weren't separated from your family and you got to live where you chose, and got the education you wanted? Your marriage didn't break up over separations, your kids didn't transfer schools so frequently that they suffered academically?  

                    How is it that for you it was just like any other job?  And does that mean you should have been paid less because you made no sacrifice?  

              •  In his first one (0+ / 0-)

                which was about how he was paid too much and could live with cuts, I called him out on his agenda, and he didn't respond to me.  

                He's been here a short time and his first diary was about overpaid military officers.  Says he's in the military but won't say the branch or what he does, just he's paid too much, as if you can compare a military job with a civilian one, or as if the government overpays and only the private sector pays just what a worker is worth.  

                I don't think many military people would consider their commitment comparable to any civilian job, although I know lots of right wing civilians who are pissed that guys in the military get those 'fat early pensions' and those perks like discount shopping at a BX because the government takes no profit. His diaries are written clearly with documentation, his comments are humble and whiney.  I think he's a troll.  

                What is icky about it is that he discusses what soldiers lives are worth.  I really find that disgusting, and not for a left blog.  And he's getting some to defend him, some who are also very very new here, but some are old timers who've been sucked into thinking this is a valid topic and we need to concern ourself with the deficit and 'overpaid' government workers.  

                I have never called anyone a troll before, this is my first.  

          •  ...thank you for your comment. Hope to see more... (0+ / 0-)
            Welcome from the DK Partners & Mentors Team. If you have any questions about how to participate here, you can learn more at the Knowledge Base or from the New Diarists Resources Diaries. Diaries labeled "Open Thread" are also great places to ask. We look forward to your contributions.

            Ignorance is bliss only for the ignorant. The rest of us must suffer the consequences. -7.38; -3.44

            by paradise50 on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 04:02:21 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  this? (0+ / 0-)

              you appreciated this comment:  "What it says to me is the military is fairly, and maybe even generously, compensated compared to civilian employment. The exception to this would be service in a combat zone.

              This was instructive to me, who served in Vietnam when the  lower enlisted and officer ranks were very poorly paid compared to “lifers.” This article helpfully corrects the common misconception that military personnel are poorly compensated, which is often used to argue for increases in an already obscenely bloated “defense” budget."

              Joined March 9?

              Corrects a common misperception?

              The common perception is that since the draft ended the military has to pay enough to attract the best enlistees, and they also pay signing bonuses and resigning bonuses.  I have never met a vet who complained about wages.  There is no perception that the the military doesn't pay enough, but right wingers think they are paid too much, because the government isn't good at paying the correct wage. Lots of them think if it isn't combat it's lazy slacking.  

          •  that bloated defense budget (3+ / 0-)

            should be realigned by reducing the number of ships, aircraft, munitions, etc. The Pentagon's plans for personnel reduction should be granted by congress. There is no need to reduce salaries of military personnel, nor should that be done.
            Pentagon Plans to Shrink Army to Pre-World War II Level

            I rec'd the diary because the substance aligns with my understanding that some time after the Viet Nam war, congress decided to raise, in stages, compensation for the military to bring military compensation in alignment with private sector compensation. By some analyses, that parity was achieved some years ago. Now congress has the responsibility to ensure military compensation doesn't again fall behind private sector compensation.


            •  not that reason (0+ / 0-)

              it was because they had to, after the draft was ended, no one would would join at conscription pay.  Now they often have to pay re-signing bonuses, for those with needed skills.  On the other hand, lots are forced out before the 20 years, because their skills aren't any longer required or they never got useful training, they were driving trucks or dishing slop or whatever.  The military doesn't need to fire anyone, they sign for three or five or seven years at a time, they can just not be invited to resign.  It isn't a secure job.  

              The Coast Guard gets rid of people who get into trouble with drinking, which can be bystander at a bar fight. Joining the military means that you give up your civil rights. The military owns you and has complete control over you.  

              If this guy claims he could get a promotion after 23 years, he'd have to have some very important skills, and after new training there is a new time commitment.  If he had very important skills he's not likely to think he's overpaid.  

        •  Well, folks screamed in his last diary... (15+ / 0-)

          ...that he was ignoring the enlisted men.  In that diary, he said he'd take a look and post another diary.

          He did exactly that - listened to criticism from the community, did additional research, and wrote another diary to feed discussion on the topic raised by that criticism.

          Now, you're getting on his case for doing exactly what a ton of folks complained wasn't done in the previous diary.

          Talk about a no-win situation...if you disagree with his conclusions, tell us why.  He's presented specific, accurate data (at least, for his chosen example); you are free to respond with the same.

          The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

          by wesmorgan1 on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 04:54:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  not me (0+ / 0-)

            I said he should go away.

            •  You are a disgrace, Anna... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              and are making accusations based on speculation and personal bias.  Good luck with that.

              •  you joined Feb. 28? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                I do have a political bias.  It's called left.  I believe in paying military people more, not less.  I don't think the deficit is our big problem. I don't think food stamps should have been cut, it's a great program, but if the cuts mean that low rank enlisted military with lots of kids don't qualify under the new guidelines, I don't think the solution is cutting pay for those without children. I think that pits soldiers against soldiers and is mean-spirited. The great thing about our military is the equality, it's all spelled out, no secrets, it's grade and service, no matter the race or gender or number of dependents.  

                I think that soldiers who have served who read this diary and the 'discussion' concerning what they are worth in money and benefits are offended. I think equating a dangerous civilian job with a soldiers jobs is disgusting.  That's why I want him to go away.  

                •  With all due respect... :) (0+ / 0-)

                  The military generally addresses the pay aspects of those personnel in "non-dangerous" versus "dangerous" jobs with additional pay incentives.  

                  I'm an E-4 with 4.5 years of service in the Air Force.  I'll be retaining into a more "dangerous" job as an aircrew member.  I'm currently a part-time Guardsman, but when I go to retrain, I'll be on Active Duty (full-time) orders.  I'll receive per diem funding, which will pretty much cover all of my lodging/fuel/meal expenses.  I'll also receive a paycheck from around $1,600 - $2,000 a month, give-or-take (and yes, I'll take  

                  When I go on flying status, I'll receive Active Duty pay, as well as additional funding for flying, AND if I wind up in any hazardous/combat-related areas, I'll receive additional pay for that as well.

                  Just trying to address the possible scenarios involving unique pay aspects. :)

        •  I question the motivation/point here too.. (4+ / 0-)

          ...and was reading with furrowed brow, when I got to the sentence "One of the things I've always liked about the military, frankly, is the pay balance between high and low."
          Yeah, right. As a military retiree, that just made me snort. "Frankly" that just doesn't ring true as one of the things anyone would list as " of the things I've always liked about the military..".

        •  No, the diarist is providing facts. (0+ / 0-)

          What are providing beyond the whine?

          I won't believe corporations are people until Texas executes one. Leo Gerard.

          by tgrshark13 on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 01:54:44 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The diarist is providing numbers without context (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            anna shane

            Those numbers are not absolute nor are they consistent across the services. The wise speak only that which they know. That came from a fictional character but it is just as relevant here as it was in The Two Towers.

            "Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for a real Republican every time." Harry Truman

            by MargaretPOA on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 03:12:15 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  You are making a strawman argument. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              anna shane

              The diarist did not claim consistency across services and was very careful to provide data and to, as we used to say in high school math class, "show his work." Anna Shay and his other detractors have done neither.

              I won't believe corporations are people until Texas executes one. Leo Gerard.

              by tgrshark13 on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 04:17:48 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  he makes the strawman argument (0+ / 0-)

                that he needs to correct the liberal misperception that troops are underpaid? And adds the notion that military and private sector are equivalent? And that private sector is fair, not too low?  And then he puts in his numbers?  

      •  Several reasons... (4+ / 0-)

        1) That same Money article also shows a steady increase in the dollar value of food stamps used at military commissaries, with data from the Defense Commissary Agency:

        FY 2011: $87.8M
        FY 2012: $98.8M
        FY 2013: $103.6M

        Those numbers are growing well beyond the rate of inflation, which suggests that more commissary users are using food stamps.

        2) The USDA's 2011 figure accounts for active-duty troops, but does not account for Guardsmen or Reservists mobilized for deployment (they technically aren't 'active-duty troops'). If they're mobilized beyond their normal 'two weeks every summer,' I think they belong in this discussion.

        3) Demographics suggest that young service members get married and have children. All other things remaining equal, adding to family size can make more families eligible for SNAP assistance. (I found one study from Hawaii which suggested a birth rate among military members and their dependents 2-3 times that of the civilian population.)

        The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

        by wesmorgan1 on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 05:29:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  But some of those commissary users (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          icemilkcoffee, grover

          might be guard/reserve, not active duty. They don't make nearly what regular active do, because they're not active duty all the time.

          And IIRC guard/reserve and dependents were recently given BX/Commissary privileges all the time, not just when they're on active duty.

          I could easily see that a lot of the increase in food stamp usage comes from that segment - they would be more likely to be on food stamps than regular active duty.

          •  That's quite possible... (0+ / 0-)

            ...I'll go dig and see if I can find the stats for Guard/Reserve soldiers. I did find one Stars and Stripes article from 2012 which cited an unemployment rate of approximately 20% among National Guard and Reserve service members returning from deployment abroad.

            However, Guard/Reserve troops/dependents have had full commissary privileges since 2003, so they've been "in the mix" (and included in these dollar figures) for over a decade; I don't think we can assume that the majority of the spikes seen in the last 3 years are related to Guard/Reserve use.

            The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

            by wesmorgan1 on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 09:18:07 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Another potential source of commissary food stamps (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          are retirees who have much smaller pensions.

          •  True... (0+ / 0-)

            ...but I don't think that the number of new retirees is sufficient to account for a substantial portion of the increases seen over the last 3-4 years.

            It's definitely a mess to be unraveled...

            (After my father retired, we made road trips to the nearest commissary twice a year (it was a 2-hour drive)...)

            The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

            by wesmorgan1 on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 09:21:20 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  obviously, (0+ / 0-)

      There is a need to examine, with careful examples as Bookends has provided, the situation of those who need food stamps while serving in the military.  That many can get by, why cannot all?  Who are they, and why are they in bad straits.

  •  of course (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    anna shane, mickT, angelajean, grover

    1. I'm skeptical of your state tax calculations.

    2. What job is the civilian doing?  Does it involve the long hours? The threat of deployment? Death? Does it involve picking up and moving your family every two to three years to another part of the country or even the planet?

    Determining whether or not something is proper compensation involves the work involved in comparison to other similar jobs, not simply picking two folks who might make the same compensation overall with no further analysis.

    3. What about more expensive areas? Or areas with higher incomes? The only thing that changes military pay is the cost of housing.  It's not a COLA that factors in all the living costs in an area.  

    4.  Is the average Soldier married with one kid? Because I knew plenty with more than one kid.

    Very facile and limited argument you are making.

    •  Written (4+ / 0-)

      by a commissioned officer, most couldn't care about enlisted, merely cogs in the machine.

      •  so he says (0+ / 0-)

        there's a sucker born every minute?  

      •  That's pretty harsh (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        This old man, riprof, mmacdDE, VALuddite

        As a civilian who was formerly enlisted, I had a great deal of respect for many of the officers I served.  Probably a higher proportion than the civilian leaders I served.

        Did you have a bad experience yourself, or are you assuming this is true because you heard it somewhere else?

        •  Leftcenterlibertarian: harsh or not depends on (0+ / 0-)

          the officer and whether or not same is deserving.

          If you want to look at everything from a bookkeeper's eye view, then ... maybe this "officer" isn't being uncaring toward enlisted personnel. If you are a believer / practitioner of realpolitik ... a HS diploma that "entitles" a person to 171% of the poverty level in a dangerous job with many restrictions on how one may behave off-duty, after three to nine months' on-duty in training status before receiving those oh-so-generous BAH additional dollars ... isn't heartless. It's just business, after all, and from a certain point of view, it's "smart."

          LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

          by BlackSheep1 on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 12:00:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I'm a commissioned officer (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VALuddite, Jackson L Haveck

        and I care quite a bit.

        •  When I hear an officer say that (0+ / 0-)

          I'm reminded of white racists when they preface their comments with "I've got lots of black friends". I'm not saying you're all in that boat but it's been my experience that the VAST majority of you think of the enlisted as servants who are incapable of real human feelings. I'm sure you believe you care but statistically speaking, I don't find it very likely.

          "Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for a real Republican every time." Harry Truman

          by MargaretPOA on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 03:15:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  ok let me try again (0+ / 0-)

            I was also enlisted for five years, my stepfather was enlisted for 29 years, my mother was enlisted for 2, my father was enlisted for over 10.

            Do I pass your statistical test now or am I still equivalent to a "white racist?"

            And no, the VAST majority of my fellow officers do NOT think of the enlisted as servants, but as partners and folks without whom the officers are pretty damn meaningless.

            I'm sorry that apparently you or a loved one had bad interactions with an officer(s) but I'm not paying for your bad, but limited, interactions.

    •  Thanks for commenting (13+ / 0-)

      .. It was helpful last time.

      1: I used the Oregon withholding formula for under $50,000/yr. The tax is 1199+(Gross wages - what you paid in federal tax - 4160 -16300)0.09-188 exemptions). I thought it was high too.

      2: It's a fair point. I agree that a determination of proper compensation involves a great deal about the character of the job. Depending on the hours, this equivalent salary works out to around 15 an hour, assuming a roughly 2500 hour work year. That's not awful for a kid fresh out of high school.

      3: Repeating the calculation for San Francisco, the first high cost area that came to mind, indicated an equivalent civilian pay of 79,156 per year. The airman's gross wages were 62,937.24, a bit below the 69,894 dollar median income for San Francisco. But the tax differential puts him over the median income, by about 13%. It seems that even a high cost area doesn't leave this airman impoverished, largely because of a tax free BAH of 3204.00

      4: The family size effect is precisely the reason I recommended the idea of adjusting allowances for family size. I understand that other, older families are larger, but they also have more stripes, more basic pay, and somewhat more generous location pay. My purpose in presenting this case was to come up with the lowest paid military member I could think of.

      I disagree that the argument is facile. I think that military compensation for enlisted ranks is largely fair, although something more could be done to help larger families. I just want the conversation about this subject to be based on the actual numbers.

      •  Again, you cherry pick (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        its great to show that your mythical E2 gets huge BAH for living in SF but it is just one more cheery for you to pick.  Because of the MASSIVE tax advantage his total compensation  is artificially high.  And of course that ignores the fact that he would spend all of that and then some on housing.  2 bed, 1 bath is going to cost you $2700 at the low end.  The remaining $500 (of his $3200 BAH) will be eaten by utilities, parking, etc.  Never mind the cost of living in SF.  Year, great place for a young couple....

        Variable BAH by family size is not only a bad idea but unethical.  We already violate most employment laws by paying people to be married.  Paying them to have kids is irresponsible.  

        Please RETIRE.  You feel you are overpaid so GO!

        It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

        by ksuwildkat on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 02:10:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  2700. vis way too low (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mmacdDE, ksuwildkat

          an estimate for a 2 BR in SF. $3500.-$4000. is more realistic, and on the low end.  I agree variable BAQ based on family size is irresponsible and costly.  There are other, less obvious costs as well, costs that are probably not as quantifiable, such as a variable BAQ encouraging those who wish to produce a lot of children enlisting (yeah, I'm looking at you Quiverfullers).  We were at one installation where a large family of Christianists threatened to sue for post housing large enough for their family, so the housing office granted them 2 adjoining quarters, and paid for the renovation necessary for the houses to be connected, and forcing another family to wait for longer housing.

          We always had to wait for housing; it was my pet peeve as a military spouse.  They moved us all over the world, but we had to find temporary housing for ourselves and our kids, often a motel or other unsuitable quarters, creating multiple hassles like changing schools while waiting for housing.  Or we got semi-permanent housing off post at a high cost, necessitating 2 or more moves at even one duty station.

          Even when mr. dks was an officer we struggled financially - you try to move every 30-36 months and buy and sell a house for each move.  Under most circumstances, jr. officers simply can't afford it.

          Even given the other benefits like commissary, px, recreation stuff, etc, the housing costs and hassles for military families can be pretty shitty, especially when the  spouse and kids have to stay behind to sell a house, or can't sell a house.  Essentially, at times, a regular 3 year tour feels like a temporary tour because the family is so often separated by economic necessity, being together only for leave.

          The frequent moves and concomitant housing issues really set us back financially compared to our less peripatetic peers.   They also took other tolls - tolls on our kids, tolls on our relationship with each other and our extended families, and tolls on our feelings of actually belonging anywhere.  Now that we are retired, our kids launched, and our lives simplified; I look back and I am amazed we all made it relatively unscathed.  But the only really quantifiable toll that would make it into some obscure DOD report is this - we are poorer than if we had stayed in one place during our working lives.

          •  Was was being generous (0+ / 0-)

            Never said $2700 was going to be in a nice area :)

            I hear you.  We lived across the street from an "extended" family on Ft Meade.  Just like you described they took two 3 room duplexes and converted them so they could have both.  In the mean time my family of 4 shared 900 square feet and one bathroom.  In Monterey the breeders got HUGE 6 bedroom McMansions.  We are talking homes that would be in the $1.5-2.0 million range with killer views.  All for having their quiver full.

            I hate housing but there have been times when it was the only answer.  I got to Meade from Korea and knew nothing about the area so I didn't want to buy in a crack house neighborhood.  We moved into housing for 6 months until we could learn the area.  That was August 2001.  A month later all our plans were upside down.  A month after that the DC sniper made me feel pretty lucky to be on post even in 900 square feet.  I was never happier than putting Meade in my rear view mirror.

            It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

            by ksuwildkat on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 06:00:37 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Moving is the reason why we didn't buy (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            And lived on base as much as possible. Base housing is wildly variable. At one base it might be great, at another it might be crappy. Renting has its own hassles as well, but at least you're not stuck with a house.

            When we got to our final duty station before retirement, we bought a house.

            But if we'd bought a house when we first lived in California, we would have made a fortune.

    •  Well, when I served (7+ / 0-)

      And I served for 8 years.  I did not have any kids, and the majority of e-4 and below did not have kids.  There were a few outliers, but not many.

      As far as work hours go, I believe that there is a huge misconception that everyone in the military works these horrific hours.  Sure, when your deployed, or preparing for a depoloyment, you work a lot of hours.  When you are not deployed, your hours can be cake.  When I got home from the gulf war and was stationed with the Marines, I worked out for about two hours, did paperwork, and knocked off about 2pm most of the time.

      Let's face it, an 18 or 19 yo with a wife and one kid making an e-2's salary  with BAH and BAS is probably in the top 5% of income for all 18 or 19 yo.  

      Finally, why should we compensate and e-2 or an e-3 at a higher level just because they decide to have more kids?  

      •  Just as a contrast (5+ / 0-)

        during my time in the navy I very rarely had a week even while in port that I worked less than 50 hours in a week, not counting 24 hour duty days one out of every 3 or 4 days. Not to mention spending a little less than half my days out to sea on "training missions." It was a large stress for my family, and deployment caused dozens of marriages of people I know to fall apart. I never felt that I was underpaid even considering all of that, because I knew when I joined it would be hard. That was what allows me to take pride in my service after the fact, that it was a service, not a job. As a disclaimer though, I didnt join until my mid tweties and did a large amount of research prior to joining, I knew what to expect. Most of the younger guys joining straight out of high school had a much harder time and were much less informed.

      •  A lot of it is dependent on the branch (0+ / 0-)

        and what kind of work.

        If you're in the AF and not a pilot or mechanic or security, often your hours are regular, 9-5, M-F, just like anybody else.

        Most AF tours for enlisted are 4 yrs or more. I know plenty of people who moved maybe 3 times during their 20, and spent 10 yrs in one place.

        AF Officers are different, they tend to move every 2 yrs or so.

        Navy spends time at sea, so they might be technically stationed somewhere for years, but never be there more than a couple months at a time (and that's generous). My son was Navy, and he was at sea for 6 mos at a time, and probably 10 mos out of the year.

        I think Army and Marines move more often than AF.

        Of course, in a combat zone all bets are off. Then you really do work 24/7.

      •  we dont (0+ / 0-)

        that's the point (or a point).

      •  I've been working in the military (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kat herder

        on and off, enlisted and officer since 1992...and I can count on two hands the number of times I got off by 2pm or knew anyone who did.

        Generally those were days that were programmed half-days, or involved a reward for a period of hard work.

  •  Thanks for facts and figures reporting n/t (5+ / 0-)
  •  Also helpful (8+ / 0-)

    Would be a comparison of the civilian jobs available and the pay rate (net of taxes) to someone with only a high school education.

    I think what you will find is that military &  Federal Govt jobs pay significantly more than any job out of high school unless a person starts a business himself and does well or is a Edward Snowden type  who doesn't need formal education to achieve 6 figure pay in IT.

    This more or less jives what I looked into. Keep in mind this after they troops got a incremental  40% increase in pay.

    I had a federal job right out of high school and once I added the perdiem, healthcare, retirement(Civil Service)  plus the occasional TDY  job and the benefits, there was nothing that came close, even out of college since it was right at the start of the 80-82 recession when I finally graduated from college only to find my degree was worthless in the private sector. Fortunately I didn't have a mortgage like debt when I came out.

    People tend to only look at the pay scales themselves and not the value of the untaxed cash and non cash benefits.

    You should also put in the value of a College education that someone is earning with a four year enlistment. Then nothing else comes close.

    BTW, I don't think this is a bad thing, because once they sign the dotted line, they can't just quit once things get too dangerous or tough. That's the down side. It's a risky profession even if they never hear a shot fired in anger.


    “ Success has a great tendency to conceal and throw a veil over the evil of men. ” — Demosthenes

    by Dburn on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 03:26:46 PM PDT

  •  So what's your point? (7+ / 0-)

    Are you suggesting our military personnel are paid too much?  Or paid plenty and should be able to handle come cuts? Without considering the accuracy of your numbers (I don't care frankly, if they are right or not), what's the point of your argument? If the point is that our soldiers are overpaid, or paid well enough to stand some cuts, then you're posting this diary in the wrong place, my friend. I'm a committed pacifist, but if we have to have armed forces, we damn well better pay them well and take care of them and their families in perpetuity. Comparing military pay against the poverty line - just even making that comparison - is frankly obscene. Comparing it against the median is nearly as obscene. Risking your very life, not to mention all the very real practical limitations of military service (family separation, frequent moves, etc), should be the best paid job this country has to offer. It should pay 300% of poverty level. More. Soldiers should be so damn expensive that we actively work on ways to need less of them. Even if every fact in this diary is true, it is just about the most offensive thing I've ever read here, just by its very premise, and that's saying something.

    •  that is the question (3+ / 0-)

      could it be to get the 'left' on record for saying troops are paid too much?  And that they can live with reduced pensions, that's okay, cause after all the private sector doesn't overpay, and in fact hates the idea of minimum wage because some aren't worth minimum wage?  

      How much is your life worth?  What would it take for you to risk it, and to sign your life away for 7 years, what would you cost?  

  •  We Liberals MUST Love The Troops (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rduran, Kevskos

    There is no question and no choice.

    We lost so much of our political leverage because The Hippies were "spitting on the troops" that now the realpolitik is that we must embrace them, and pretend we agree that they are "protecting us"  from all the nameless night terrors that afflict us ...

    And believing them to be poorly paid as well as exposed to hardship and danger helps us to do that.

    It's getting to remind me of "Fleet Week in Greenwich Village" around here.

    •  food stamps is fact (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lily O Lady, Eyesbright

      When did soldiers on food stamps become a belief?  

      •  I found Bookends' spreadsheet persuasive .... (0+ / 0-)

        And one reason I did, is that I understand foodstamp eligibility IS based on taxable income, and apparently a significant portion of enlisted ranks' compensation package is not taxable.

        (And that doesn't even take us into the issue of comparing prices and taxes at  Post Exchanges and Walmarts ... or considering whether encouraging enlisted ranks to be "family people" is the best possible balance between force requirements and the welfare of children of tender years.

        If you on the other hand ... who did not choose to refute Bookends' figures  ...   feel that his diary is a lie, a fraud,  a falsehood and a nefarious exercise in deception "to drive wedges etc"  ...  DO tell him so directly.

        I'd be interested in reading his rebuttal.

        •  He is a fraud (0+ / 0-)

          and I have said so

          He cherry picks his facts and chooses best case scenarios.  He is pretty good at it too.  Kinda like the Koch Brother finding the one person on the planet with Lupus not better off with Obamacare.

          Military pay is quite good for brand new enlistees when compared to their level of responsibility.  You are being asked to show up and do what you are told and not much else.  But if you have not stepped up into a leadership position within 3 years you find your pay flattens out and then effectively goes down.  I went from E-1 to E-5 in 35 months.  That 35th month I was given a squad and told "get to work Sergeant."  I was 22 years old and less than three years removed from being kicked out of a Junior College and suddenly I had 5 guys looking at me to tell them what to do.  3 of the 5 were older than me.  One day I was one of the guys, the next day I was in charge.  6 months later I transferred to a new unit and found myself the platoon sergeant.  Now I had 25 brand new soldiers and a few Specialists.  My "squad leaders" were E4s.  I was still 22 and had not even hit my 4th year in the Army.  I was getting paid a little more than $1000 a month.  I was the happiest guy on the planet when an E-6 came in a few months later and I got to be a squad leader again.

          I have friends in private industry who are making six figures and have never supervised more than 5 people.  Thats the fewest I have ever supervised aside from the times when I was an Army of One doing some pretty stupid missions.  As a brand new Captain I was responsible for a $200 million dollar property book and had a budget of over $12 million 1998 dollars.  As a brand new Major I had over 400 military and civilians and a budget of over $30 million.  My civilian peers make 2-5 times what I do.  When the Army "pimps me out" (I am occasionally 'rented' to other people) they get over a $1000 a day for me.  The OPs math on pay doesn't hold up when you go past E-4.

          It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

          by ksuwildkat on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 08:23:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Your point being: (0+ / 0-)

            Past E-4 you're so poor you need foodstamps ...  ???

            Or is it just that you don't think military pay and private industry pay are equal enough ?

            Some private industry jobs promote faster and pay better than military service.  And they are safer and more comfortable than military service in every way.

            And this makes Bookends' a fraud?

            I don't know him.  I don't know you.  He makes a better case on paper.  You have an anecdote from personal experience.  How does one judge between you ?

            But granted ... if being an executive in private industry is easier, safer, more comfortable and less demanding than being a non-commissioned officer in the Army -- is that a reason for someone with no other job options and no moral objections to the soldier's job description ought be UNemployed rather than seek military service?

            And what about all that "honor" and "service" and "patriotism" we keep hearing about?   That's NOT part of the reason soldiers choose to be soldiers -- and not insurance company executives ?

            And all the Silly-Villains who come up to you and say "thank you for your service?"   Is THAT worth nothing ?

            Personally ... I agree : Soldiers, particularly the enlisted ranks ... especially after the Army has no further use for them ...   have a wretched and  pitiable lot in life -- but not for reasons I think you would want  to hear about.

            •  Responding you YOUR statements (0+ / 0-)
              I found Bookends' spreadsheet persuasive ....

              It is persuasive until you realize that he took a unique situation where we give the newest folks excellent compensation for the duties required.  Lets see him do the same thing for an E-5.

              If you on the other hand ... who did not choose to refute Bookends' figures  
              I refute them.
              ...   feel that his diary is a lie, a fraud,  a falsehood and a nefarious exercise in deception "to drive wedges etc"  ...  DO tell him so directly.
              I told him directly I think he is a fraud and and I said why.
              I'd be interested in reading his rebuttal.
              He has provided none.

              It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

              by ksuwildkat on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 10:40:53 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  When I was a civilIan (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Coastrange, Kevskos, martini, slothlax, lgmcp

    Working at Ft Hood in the late 90's the Ft Hood newspaper ( don't remember what it was called) had an article written by a debt consular on post. The article was on the money woes of the junior enlisted. He told the case of Ensign Doe, who was married, and lived off post and was heavily in debt.  The ensign drove a new SUV and the wife a new car maybe a camery. The author said the advice given was the solider and his wife were driving cars they could not afford (I remember thinking both cars were nicer than mine and I was a GS 14), he was eligible for free meals at the mess hall, but didn't want to go to the mess hall, and they were in an apartment that was above the living allowance. Basically, they were living beyond there means, needed to drive cheaper cars and either live on post or find less expensive housing and take advantage of the mess hall.

    My point is junior enlisted, like many 18 - 25 year olds can make bad choices, but being in the military they have a little more help getting out of their hole.

    • (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Ensign is a Navy Officer.
      Married people cant eat in the dining facility free.
      Nice try.
      I spent much of the 90s on Ft Hood.  Who you with?

      It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

      by ksuwildkat on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 02:13:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I was one of those (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    anna shane, mickT, Lonely Texan, dksbook

    junior enlisted. To be blunt, you have you no idea what you are talking about. Commands routinely do not give BAS or BAH to junior enlisted.

    We were the ones actually risking our lives not zeroes behind a desk somewhere. But officers pulled in triple our pay while doing no work, that's right folks the enlisted do all the actual work that is done in the armed forces. The officers are strictly supervisors and paper pushers.

    This guy is the reason why our forces perform so badly. The officer corps has no idea what it is like to be enlisted. We need to get rid of direct commission of officers. Every line officer should be a former enlisted man who has shown the ability to lead men through previous performance.

    •  don't think he's an officer (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      grover, Eyesbright, ksuwildkat

      he says so, that's the evidence.  This guy is someone who wants to make a point about military compensation, why we don't know, and who he is we don't know. I know that officers and enlisted soldiers can be rivals, but this guy is a blogger who has an agenda.  

      •  He was an officer. (0+ / 0-)

        It was in his former diary.

        Doesn't change what he's trying to write about though he is oversimplifying military life.

        •  yes, he said so (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          that doesn't make it so.  Didn't say which branch or what he did, only that he was paid too much and could easily afford a pay cut.

          Paid by Koch is what I think.  

          •  So far, diarist is the only one putting numbers (0+ / 0-)

            and facts in this debate.

            I won't believe corporations are people until Texas executes one. Leo Gerard.

            by tgrshark13 on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 02:20:27 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  those facts start with premises (0+ / 0-)

              that civilian jobs and military service are equivalent. (F)

              that there is a wide-spread liberal misperception that the military underpays (F)

              there there hasn't been talk of underpaid civilians (nothing in the news about minimum wage, for example) (F)

              That the deficit is the big problem and we need to cut spending in the military to reduce the deficit. (Koch idea)

              ergo, that it's necessary and fair to compare civilian wages with overall military compensation and to 'discuss' whether there could be savings through cutting pay and compensation for military personnel.

              I am sure his facts are right, I didn't check them, I find the whole topic offensive, insulting to military personnel and liberals and underpaid civilian workers.  

      •  I dont either (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        he "corrected" my comment by adding tax exemption for FICA when deployed.  Bzzzzzzz.  You pay FICA while deployed.

        When I called him on it he said he "checked his pay stubs."

        Um, NO ONE in the military calls it a "pay stub."  We get an LES - Leave and Earnings Statement.  

        So this guy checked his "pay stub" and confirmed that he in fact did pay FICA while deployed.  Hmmmm....he just wrote TWO extensive diaries about military pay.  One was all about HIS pay being too much.  In all that time researching HIS pay he didnt notice that HE paid FICA while "deployed"?  For someone who is ALL ABOUT pay he seems to know very little about his own that doesnt come from a publicly accessible chart.

        This guy is a FRAUD!!!

        It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

        by ksuwildkat on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 02:55:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Again, apologies (0+ / 0-)

          I am trying to write for the general audience, not the military audience. Consequently, I used what I judged to be the more common civilian term.

          I have acknowledged my error in writing FICA when I should have written FITW, for "Federal Income Tax Withholding" - since the E5 in your example isn't paying much income tax anyway, the tax exclusion is of less value to him than to his officers.

          Finally, special pay and allowances complicate the picture in my own personal situation (particularly when considering fractional month deployments), so I wrote while trying to avoid being too specific about my particular circumstances. I'm willing to tolerate intemperate language here, but I'd prefer to avoid it at my own duty station as it doesn't lead to accomplishing the mission, hence my preference to remain discreet.

          You mentioned in another comment, I believe, that what I presented here was just what you could find out on the web. That's kind of my point, actually - there are facts; you can look them up, and should.

          And I still think you've made a very good case for increasing combat pay, since that's a level of hardship that substantially exceeds even the normal rigors of military life stateside.

          I'm now securing my metaphorical hatches for further incoming fire. But I had my say in my diary, and listened to everyone else's too. So it would be impolite to insist of the last word.

          •  Sorry, not buying it (0+ / 0-)

            From the time I posted you responded in less than 8 minutes.  Your want me to believe that you noticed what I wrote, went and checked your "pay stubs" and posted a response while taking the time to "translate" to civilian speak when you were obviously responding to someone who would have know exactly what LES meant?  And given you posted that right around COB I seriously doubt you had printed LESs handy so that meant a trip to MyPay.  So tell me, when was the last of your two deployments?

            Speaking of which unless you were the most unlucky deployer on the planet you likely filed 4 different tax returns where you had partial pay tax exempt and some not.  You expect me to believe that you filed taxes including combat pay 2-4 different times and never noticed that you continued to pay FICA?  You expect me to believe that across 2 deployments you didn't notice that you "pay stub" had FICA withholding?

            You know why you won't say what branch you are in or what duty station you are at?  Because its all a lie and you know the minute you start giving out fake details you will get caught in your lies.  Its what trips up all the fakers at the VFW and all the fakers in the parades.  They get so caught up in their stories they leave out little details on their fake uniform or little details that they should have known or the….like saying LES instead of pay stub.

            It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

            by ksuwildkat on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 05:30:49 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Oh stop (10+ / 0-)

      BAS and BAH are given to any service member with dependents.  You even get it while deployed so your family can make rent.

      I had good officers and bad...I had jerkoff, ring tapping academy grads, and great leaders who graduated from ROTC at the state school.  In the end, most of them cared more about the guys under them than you probably realized.  As a matter of fact, the biggest shit birds I had to deal with (and I was enlisted) with mostly enlisted, with a sprinkling of LDO's (limited duty officer who were prior enlisted).

    •  Of course they do (6+ / 0-)

      if you're married and live off base, you get BAS/BAH. Period.

      If you're SINGLE and want to live off base when there's housing available, no, you won't get it.

    •  ORLY? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      so exactly how many junior enlisted personnel who are married are denied BAH and BAS.  Thats right, none.  When I was a commander I offered any E-5 and above the opportunity to live off post with full BAH and BAS.  About half took me up on it.  E4s could request to live off post.  If they had a PLAN and could prove they were financially stable, I granted it.  if not, they stayed in the barracks.  

      I guess I was not risking my life in Iraq when I was driving around by myself with a 9mm and crossed fingers.  Or when I did it in Afghanistan with just me and my terp.  Or when my job was to go to the bad parts of various cities in the middle east.  

      And I guess those 6 years I spent enlisted some how got erased when I IMPROVED myself and became an officer.  

      Just because you were a crappy enlisted person doesnt mean the rest of us were.  

      It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

      by ksuwildkat on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 02:19:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Might be true now (0+ / 0-)

        But when I served it was not. As a matter of fact The Marines tried to forbid E4's and below from getting married at all.

        As to being a crappy enlisted person? Anonymous guy flaming over the intarwebs? Let me know when you grow up. I mean that literally. My service predates yours by more than 20 years. Think Beriut bombing not 9/11.

        •  Math is hard (0+ / 0-)

          do a little reading.

          The Marines never tried to forbid anyone from getting married.  They told their recruiters not to recruit married people.  BIG DIFFERENCE.  But then truth would hurt your narrative.  And of course there was such an uproar over what was good policy it was almost instantly reversed and their recruiting commander relieved.  More truth that doesn't fit your narrative.  

          I don't have to have served with you to know who you are.  Classic Pissed Off PFC.  Buys into the "Officers are pencil pushers" crap and repeats it.  Never had to lead.  Never had to be responsible.  Never had to be The Man.  Just bitching and complaining.  

          Move along Private.

          It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

          by ksuwildkat on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 07:53:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Like I said (0+ / 0-)

            The Marines tried to forbid junior enlisted from getting married. Or do you really think banning recruiting married ones was the end of that?

            As to being a PFC, wrong service and way wrong pay grade. Just making assumptions without enough information. But that is the behavior I learned to expect from a zero.

            •  Just like a Pissed of PFC (0+ / 0-)

              can't tell the difference between forbidding someone form doing something and not seeking out married recruits.

              The fact that you knew it was the "wrong service wrong grade" means you knew exactly what I was talking about.

              How many times did you get busted?  How many times did some officer make you cry?  How many times did you sit around and talk sit to your buddies about what you were going to do and then….nothing.  All talk.  When it was time to be a man you just took it and cried.

              It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

              by ksuwildkat on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 06:10:14 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  No you gibbering moron (0+ / 0-)

                Calling me a PFC was the wrong service and the wrong pay grade. I was never a PFC because I was never a ground pounder. In reality I left the USN as an ET2 but I'm sure that will confuse you so for the dimwitted army zero types that is an E5. Now go find someone who is impressed by your lies about all the combat you didn't really see.

  •  ok, but (0+ / 0-)

      There is a bit of the baffle w/bs in this as the salary for an E2 is fixed if they fail to advance while the O2 increases every let's not believe that the first year salary is a fair comparison.
        Next,  people know that Klamath Falls is no "mecca" and that it may indeed be a faux comparison.  
        Third,  the tax rate that you compare is bogus as you appear to be mixing apples / oranges when comparing State with Federal rates.    Last I checked, Oregonians still have to file Fed taxes and pay State Income Tax.  
        Was the choice of Oregon a FLUKE as it is sadly one of the ALEC success stories?  

    •  E-2 or O-2 (6+ / 0-)

      Both will get paid for time in service.  And if  an E-2 can't get promoted before an 0-2 if they have the same time in rank, he has a bigger problem than his pay.  Promotion from e-2 to e-3 is practically automatic.  Hell I was an e-3 the day started A-school (the first school after boot camp).

      As far a the taxes are concerned, the diarist is correct.  Service members many times changed their home of record to a non  income tax state to avoid state tax.  I changed mine from California to Texas.  Service members only pay state tax to their home of record, not the state where they are stationed.  Also, it was pointed out, based upon and e-2's base pay, he does not make enough to pay federal tax, and since BAH and BAS are not taxable he doesn't pay any tax on that as well.

      Not to mention that the military member does not pay anything for Health insurance as the civilian counterpart would, and nothing for his retirement.  

    •  There is a reason E2s don't get raises (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      If you are still an E-2 after two years in the service you are obviously doing a terrible job and don't deserve a raise.  You have to be an officer for at least three years to make O-3.

      There is truth on all sides. The question is how much.

      by slothlax on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 10:43:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yes but (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lgmcp, tgrshark13, VALuddite

      unlike a civilian, military can often choose their "state" of residence and a lot choose Texas or another no income tax state.  
      I feel sorry for the author of this diary. I knew he was going get burned for stating facts vice opinions.  This is that today's military are not egregiously underpaid.  And that not very many qualify for food stamps.
      If someone wants to make the argument they deserve more than the combat or hazardous duty pay they already get for being exposed to danger then make that argument. I agree the back to back deployments are a bitch, but that's a result of political policy by at least one Republican and one Democratic administration.
      My beef is the number of retired officers who jump ahead of the line in civil service positions, shutting out people who have progressed up to the GS 13 or 14 level and then find GS 15 and SES promotions going to retired 0-6s and above.  But that is another diary I guess.

    •  The only E-2 over 2 in the military (0+ / 0-)

      got busted from a higher rank.  You have to work HARD to be an E-2 over 2.

      It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

      by ksuwildkat on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 02:22:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  There are a few missing assupmtions here (13+ / 0-)

    As a junior enlisted living off post, this airman is going to need some way to get to and from work. This family can probably get by with one car by either leaving the wife and baby home, or having her drive him to and from work every morning and evening, or if he's really lucky he can bum a ride. So a car payment is going to be factored in there whether he wants it or not. And since we have an 18yo with no likely credit history probably something around 20% interest or higher from one of those oh so friendly, "we finance everyone E1 and up" dealerships that resell beat up rental cars with no warranty for a 100% markup on blue book. I'm pretty sure Oregon has decent public transportation, and it can be an option, but it better be running near where he lives and when this Airman needs to get in for PT in the morning. It also better be running when this Airman gets recalled at some odd hour of the night, or on a weekend. I'm pretty sure his Commander and NCO's aren't going to accept, "I was late for xxxxxxxx because I missed the bus" more than once.

    This is anecdotal, but I can't really recall any base where the BAH actually cover the rent and basic utilities as it would in post housing. Unless there have been some major changes in the way post housing runs in the last year or so, no one living on post pays water/gas/electric. They pay for phone/internet/cable, but not the basics. An off post renter will have to factor that in to keep the out of pocket expenses to a minimum.

    I'll say BAS is a good deal, but it is for the service member to eat, not the family. The last unit I was in, the Corps guidance was to take BAS for every day away from home, not to include 24hr duties such as CQ or Staff Duty, but did include all training, schools etc... since the service member was essentially on a meal card for that time. that is one of the easiest way for commanders to point out that they are saving money. That is money that can't be counted on to be the same every month if you do any field training.

    I will say that an 18yo right out of HS with no higher degree is getting a decent deal by joining the military. Healthcare, 30 days paid vacation in the first year, decent benefits, and more than minimum wage included. But there are a few cons to go with those pros, other than the obvious possible death and dismemberment, long years away from home, moving every few years whether you want to or not and all that. One of the bigger unsaid cons is the compensation package you currently get is subject to change at any time. As we found out when medical for vets and retirees changed in the "90's, Congress isn't bound by any contracts or promises made to service members.

    •  ...welcome... (0+ / 0-)
      Welcome from the DK Partners & Mentors Team. If you have any questions about how to participate here, you can learn more at the Knowledge Base or from the New Diarists Resources Diaries. Diaries labeled "Open Thread" are also great places to ask. We look forward to your contributions.

      Ignorance is bliss only for the ignorant. The rest of us must suffer the consequences. -7.38; -3.44

      by paradise50 on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 07:51:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  you and your "facts" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The OP has done a great job of cherry picking and then relying on the average DK reader having little experience with the actual military.  

      Ill go a step further - The off post rent level for the crappiest place in town is set at EXACTLY the BAH level of an E2.  They know if they can get them in there on a one year lease they are locked in forever.  So E2 Jones sucks up the utilities knowing that in just a few months they will make E3 and get the HUGE $91 a month pay raise as well as an increase to BAH.  Of course they are locked in to the lease in a roach motel and even if they find some place nicer after a year they have to pay all the moving expenses themselves as well as coming up with a deposit, first and last months rent and fees for transferring utilities.  

      The OP has an agenda and its disgusting.  

      It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

      by ksuwildkat on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 02:30:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I was leaving out a lot of what you said... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ...since it is anecdotal. The reality of it is the only places that had rent around what a junior enlisted made in BAH were the neighborhoods you generally didn't want to live in. It is the slums and worse. I have lived in those places once or twice over the years. Yeah, you can save on the rent if you don't mind dealing with a murder or three in your apartment complex every year. Or occasionally having to step over a junky on your way to the car. Trying to ignore the drug dealers is always fun as well. Paying a higher premium for renters insurance because it's not a matter of if, but when, the local tweakers break into your home or smash out your car windows to see what they can find is generally regarded as a nice touch too. Now leave your family there while you deploy for a year. Hell, leave your family there while you go to NTC for a month or just for a week or two while you are playing in the back 40 of the local training areas. Realistically for your piece of mind and the health and welfare of your family you are not going to live there and so you get stuck with a higher rent to be in a nicer neighborhood.

        One thing to clarify for you comment though. BAH does not go up for this hypothetical E2 until he makes E5 and them rises again with every promotion after that. BAH is the same for E1-E4 throughout the service. Currently in my area, using the Tacoma, WA zip, the BAH rate used by Joint Base Lewis-McChord for FY 2014 rises $99 from E4 to E5. From $1374 for all junior enlisted to $1473 for a junior NCO.

        •  Agree all (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          but Housing allowance - non location specific - does go up from E-2 to E-3.  If you check out the official DFAS pay table you get the "regular" housing allowance without the location specific adjustment.  It is a better one to use when talking about pay across the board.  Back when Christ was a Corporal we got BHA - Basic Housing Allowance - and VHA - Variable Housing Allowance.  So on your LES you saw two amounts - what you got no matter where you went and what you got just for being where you were.  Sometimes VHA was zero, sometimes it was a lot.  The difference was that every BHA raise was locked in - it could never go down.  Now in theory that is still true.  Every location is supposed to be above the base amount.  The OP picked another cherry when he found one of the few places in all of DoD that had a rate LOWER than the base rate.  This indicates an extremely low cost area.  

          It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

          by ksuwildkat on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 05:44:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Understand where you got your numbers (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I remember the BHA/VHA days. I'm pretty sure they still use the same calculations to get the final number, but it's lumped into one payment now. As far it goes now, the minimum BAH you would get now is whatever it is when you report to your duty station. If BAH goes up while you are there and still the same rank then you get locked into that at the new minimum you can draw. So if BAH for your rank goes down in the next fiscal year your rate wouldn't go down with it. You rate will get recalculated if you get promoted or reduced in rank though. At that point you get whatever the rate is for your new rank for that current fiscal year and are locked into that as the new minimum.

            And rec'd for "when Christ was a corporal". Just for reminding me of when my troops would ask about how it really was at Valley Forge, or Gettysburg, or what it was like having Christ as a corporal.

  •  Military members eligible for food stamps (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rduran, martini

    would be people who are older when they sign up who already have more than 3 kids.  They have to start out at the lowest rank in the beginning.  It used to be that most people joined right out of high school - to get money for college, or to get out of a dead-end small town.  

    With the economic conditions we have now (high unemployment) a lot of older people with families are signing up because they can't find a job.  It's not just pay - they also get the free medical care.  The military is an example of pure "socialism" - they give you training, housing, food, medical care etc.  You just have to go where you're told and do what they demand.    

  •  Just for perspective (10+ / 0-)

    My husband is an E-5 with 5 years and with his allowances makes 4350 a month. That works about to be 52,200 a year.

     Only $30k is taxable, so this year we got 5,800 back bc we withhold 0.

     My medication alone, would cost $600 a month out of pocket so value of the health benefits are incalculable.

    We could easily get an apartment off base for roughly $900 a month (including utilities). His BAH is $1350.

    The Commissary cuts out grocery bills down by about 20 percent compared to walmart prices.

    Honestly, I think the pay is pretty fair within the enlisted ranks.

    Officers however, especially O1-3, are honestly a little over paid IMO. That is where any pay cuts should take place.

  •  First off - Bullshit. (10+ / 0-)

    ONE guy (a claimed Officer) with a very clear agenda....   Gee anyone notice how CUTTING THE PAY OF THE TROOPS so the DOD  MIC can save all those gold plated programs they love so much, and then this guy shows up on DKOS touting diaries that support their spiel?  

    Let me tell you from first hand experience, HALF WAY decent pay for the younger enlisted personnel in our Military was a long time in coming and hard fought for by the VFW, the DAV, The Legion. the Fleet Reserve and a dozen other organizations. Not to forget a few hundred Democratic house members and Senators (and even a few Republicans, not many but a few).

     Let me tell you that right now, today there are Military families of junior enlisted folks that struggle to pay their bills and feed their families, families of some E-4 with a wife and 2 kids stationed in Hawaii, or Japan or even in Washington DC.  A PFC (E-2) in any service, married with one child living in some high cost area is scraping by with zero safety net to cover emergencies like a car breaking down.  And they sure are not eating steaks of take out every night.

    I served for twelve years on active duty and was married with kids the whole time, and back in 1979 when I hit my first duty station in California, the waiting list for military housing was a year long.  And the low pay and housing allowances we had back then didn't cover 70 percent of the rent for the crappy apartments I could find available and afford them, along with utilities.  I remember getting promoted and FINALLY being able to afford the LUXURY of basic cable TV at $26.  

    While I was in, if you were and E-4 or below and had 2 kids, you qualified for food stamps.  Now days due to basic pay being much better, and having been increased to keep up with inflation, that same family above would not be able to receive SNAP.  

    I have no problem "Right Sizing" our military,  especially the bloated gold plated weapons programs and the bureaucracy in Washington DC and the grossly over manned Officer Corps.  But NO ONES pay should be cut.  Officers and enlisted (over all) are paid on a fair level.  

    The Greedy self serving shit bag DOD appointee's (from both sides of the aisle) have decided to target EVERYTHING except their pet weapons projects, so they are throwing out talking points about cutting, pay, retirement. healthcare, and other benefits (Commissaries).  

    This diary is by far one of the worst I seen written on the subject of pay for the military, and I read it with the feeling that the author either works in the pentagon or is here as a shill.  Simply for the fact that the cherry picking of using Idaho (lowest BAH amount in US Mainland) shows the author using bias to support his preconceived point of view.  The idea that one PFC in Idaho does okay (even if the numbers are fudged, and they are) in no way shows the very real hardship young Military families endure in high cost US and overseas areas.

    I will not even entertain the IDEA OF, let alone accept ANY cuts in pay of benefits of our Military until I see some serious cuts and cancellations in the gawd awful bloated do nothing DOD programs like the F-35 Flying Brick and the Navy's LCS.  Not to mention the billions we waste on the most useless leg of our Nuclear Triad - the Air Force Missile silos.  

    What you allow, is what will continue.

    by Nebraskablue on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 05:57:47 PM PDT

    •  Did the diary recommend any such thing? (7+ / 0-)

      First off, Oregon is the state, not Idaho.

      Second, I didn't see where the diarist said pay and benefits should be cut.

      All this diary does is point out the actual compensation package for the lowest possible paid member of the military, at least one with two dependents.

      Its not 1979, things have changed.

      There is truth on all sides. The question is how much.

      by slothlax on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 10:53:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  the diarist's point is that enlisted soldiers are (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      not underpaid. So choosing a state with a low BAH, would undercut his own argument.

      From your comment:

      While I was in, if you were and E-4 or below and had 2 kids, you qualified for food stamps.  Now days due to basic pay being much better, and having been increased to keep up with inflation, that same family above would not be able to receive SNAP.  
      It sounds like you are agreeing with the diarist more than disagreeing.
  •  It's crazy to see the race to the bottom here (7+ / 0-)

    Over the past 10 years there was a big outcry by both parties that military members were not compensated enough.  Now they can't fall over themselves fast enough to make pay cuts and take away earned benefits, when - like Detroit pensioners and others - it's too late to go back in time and make a different decision, if that decision even existed.  (Military members sign multi-year contracts.)

    I understand the diarist feels very strongly that the military is overpaid, at every level.  This is the exact line fed to us by senior officers and enlisted, who are about to retire with full retirement compensation and all the benefits they want to take away from those still serving.  By the diarist's own statements, he is in the same situation.  Why was this compensation good enough for him, but not for the rest of us who will keep serving after he retires?

    I think some of the assumptions and false parallels in this diary are intended to mislead those with little or no military experience.  I know few E-2s who get to live off base/post with their family.  Most have to spend a good amount of time, if not all their time, on base.  Often away from family.  Often out in a tent in the field, and no, it's not comfy like car camping.  No/reduced BAH or BAS because they are provided barracks and galley food, or MREs.  They stand watch in 12-hour or 24-hour stints, for days or weeks or months on end.  And of course, for the past 10+ years, they have been going on all-expenses-paid vacations to highly volatile war zones, where they might get to leave behind a limb, their eyesight, their brain function, or their sanity as a souvenir.

    If they don't like their job, if they get bullied or harassed, if their spouse leaves them and takes the kid, you name it, too bad.  They signed a contract.  They don't get to pick their place or nature of employment.  They don't get to pick their boss, their co-workers, or their work hours.  Their neighbors get to come home most days at a reasonable time, get to join community activities, get to celebrate birthdays on the days they occur.  Military folks don't.

    But you know what was the dead giveaway in this diary?

    The whole K-Falls concept.  There are no active-duty DoD bases in Oregon.  Coast Guard units and National Guard bases only.  So this fictional active-duty E-2 in the Air Force with his fictional family and his fictional neighbors may be stationed somewhere, but he's sure as heck not pulling duty of any sort, except Air National Guard duty, in Oregon.

    I'm tired of hearing our senior leaders tell us our service isn't worth the compensation they received.  Respectfully, sir, if you don't think today's troops are worth the same compensation you received, perhaps it's time for you to retire and take your full pension while you can - before you lobby to take it away from the rest of us.

  •  I am guessing that the said private (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    does have a vehicle and that vehicle does have to be insured and it does have payments and uses gas.  The family does have utilities.  I can see where they may be in need for assistance, so the 5,000 number does not seem out of line.

  •  Bullshit (9+ / 0-)

    I'm retired enlisted military.

    I made more money working in a union grocery store than I did until I was 10 years in the military. The graph on my SS statement each year shows it quite clearly.

    I did not join the military to make a living and raise a family. I joined to get away from a small town that had no future. I was willing to take the pay cut.

    This should not be a race to the bottom. My union job at the store is already gone thanks to the Wal-Mart opening up.

    Now I see people are after the military escape, as meager as that is.

    •  That's the Point (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mmacdDE, grover, lgmcp

      People see the military as their way out of dead ends, and they are willing to make a sacrifice to get there. The fact we're signing them up indicates a lot of people feel that way.

      And, this should not be a race to the bottom. The person Bookends is comparing Airman Doe with is being underpaid. That's partly because the U.S. has given up on supporting working people. It is our national policy to hold down wages and ship wealth-producing jobs overseas.

      What are we doing to increase the pay of these civilians living in Klamath Falls?

      •  The guy making $37k is not really underpaid (0+ / 0-)

        That's like $18/hr. Granted it is not exactly comfortable living, but lots of americans make do on that.

        •  It Costs $1,000 Per Month for a Kid (0+ / 0-)

          I don't know about Kamath Falls, where I'm sure it's cheaper, but it cost's about $1,000 per month to have a child (above what a single person would be spending on their own without one, on average in the U.S.). This is, under the premise, a three-person family.

          Consider that if wages had kept pace with worker productivity, this income would have been in the range of $70,000. This is the ground workers have lost in the U.S.

          So, it doesn't sound like a person earning this much would be homeless or starving, but I don't think they are being paid what they are worth.

          And, therefore, to claim that the E-2 is overpaid, you'd have to believe that this civilian is overpaid. I don't believe that.

    •  "The graph on my SS statement each year " (0+ / 0-)

      is misleading because, as the diarist pointed out, the BAS and BAH pay is exempt from FICA tax. If you include that money, the enlisted soldier is not underpaid.

      •  Oh yeah? (0+ / 0-)

        My wife left me. She wrote 12 thousand dollars of bad checks in my name.

        I was an E-5. Now single. I cleared $1200 a month when my BAS and BAH were taken away. (civilian companies don't do that.)

        I had to pay $1000 a month to pay off the money my ex forged.

        I had $200 a month for clothing and entertainment. No car. No life.

        You think I could hire a lawyer to go after my ex in another country on what money I had?

        Not underpaid? Please.

        Meanwhile, I sat next to lazy civilians who did half the job I did and they were paid $40,000 year. Married. Single. Didn't matter.

  •  This diary is like a déjà vu nephew. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Now they have the 2nd (safety net for sloppy) Amendment, and can't be infringed to actually treat their gun like a gun and not a video game controller.

    by 88kathy on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 07:51:43 PM PDT

  •  He's telling the truth (17+ / 0-)

    I'm a GS employee at Malmstrom AFB (no giggling - we'll stop being in the news...sometime). I work in the Med Group (Clinic for all you non military speakers) and my "office"is staffed primarily by airmen - A1C and SrA. The single ones live in the dorms and the married ones live in base housing. No utilities at all - just phone, cable, internet. Housing just got privatized and they are no longer responsible for shoveling or mowing, except their very tiny backyard. Their utilities don't even have meters though they are discussing putting those in to find people who "abuse" the system. The housing has air conditioning, carpets, attached garages, microwaves, dishwashers. Very nice housing - much better that I could get at any time before I turned 30. If they live in the dorms, one week every six months they have to perform "Bay Orderly" duties which means they empty the trash in the common areas, vacuum the halls - very basic stuff. They don't have to report to their duty station (work) that week and from the comments in our office it's great if you can get BayO duty the week a really good video game comes out cause you basically have nothing to do, except walk through the halls every 2 hours. Dorm dwellers get a meal card which takes BAS and every one living in base housing "pays" for it with BAH. If you're out of the dorms, BAS gets deposited into your account just like your pay.
    Six airmen in my office and no one is hurting. Cars, smart phones, ginormous TV's, gaming systems, and lots of traveling on the weekends. Two of them regularly talk about how when their enlistment is up they will have $30,000 or more in savings. And will still get college paid for by the military. Under the 9/11 GI bill they will also get a housing allotment while going to college.
    My father enlisted in 1966. At that time airmen couldn't even apply for base house until after their first re-enlistment. My father (like most old, grumpy men) talks about how spoiled the airmen are today.
    They enlisted, most of them are pretty far from home, and almost all of them never thought that Montana was were they were going to be sent. The military put out a set of terms and they agreed to those terms. They figured out how it would benefit them and the military is getting their money's worth out of them for sure.
    BUT... and this is a big but... some people can't make it like the kids in my office can. They either don't know how to manage money, came in with a stack of bills (usually student loans), or the situation changes. Some airmen marry people who have custody of kids, some airmen take in relatives (nieces, nephews, cousins, grandparents, parents) and if those relatives are not making money they qualify as "dependents", just like kids would. I know a person who just took in four nieces/nephews.  Sometimes in those situations they get a foster parent stipend but sometimes not. I also know a very devout LDS family that has seven kids. They also qualify for food assistance even though he is a SSgt.
    Situations can change and a family can end up needing assistance. Do I think it's shameful that some military families end up on food stamps - yep, but that is the exception not the norm. Restructuring the military pay system to tailor to the exception is insane. There is a system in place to help those that need it, and screaming about the military is just crazy.
    Raising everyone's pay to catch the 1% is (IMHO), being penny wise and pound foolish

    •  Thank you for suggesting this is complex (5+ / 0-)

      Reading some of the comments up thread made things sound too black and white.

      One key point that seems to have changed since I got out in 1980 is there are fewer non-combat jobs (outsourced).  So more military personnel are subject to being in harm's way.

      I think having fewer people in the military is a fine idea.  Fewer weapon systems is a fine idea.  Fewer bases, I'm cool with that.  Reduction in pay and benefits?  Only if you keep your commitments to existing service personnel who have made career decisions over the past 10 or 20 years based upon what they were told at the time.

      You want to propose reducing pay and benefits to the guy you hire tomorrow?  I'm not thrilled about it, but that is a different conversation than cutting the benefits of someone who spent most of the last 10 years getting shot at.

      •  And I can see a lot of ways (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        icemilkcoffee, lgmcp, VALuddite

        you can revise the pension system. Lots of ways. My husband is retired military and I thought it was insane when he retired.

        He's now been retired longer than he was active duty. And he's barely on Medicare.

        Let me restate that - HE'S BEEN RETIRED LONGER THAN HE WAS ACTIVE.

        Drawing a steadily increasing retirement pay all that time. And he may be drawing it for another 15 yrs OR MORE.  

        THAT is insane.

        Now, if you want to change that, and make it where you can get a reduced pension at the beginning and increase it when you hit 65, that would make sense. Or allow you to defer it entirely until you hit 65, 55, whatever. I can see that for officers, especially. They make more to start, they're more likely to have something that pays well after they retire.

        Don't take away healthcare for retirees though. That's a biggie.

        •  I have been retired (Oct 1995 - 18 yrs 5 months) (0+ / 0-)

          longer than I was on active duty (17 years 8 months (early retired (not disability related) during the Clinton drawdown) and I am still over 7 years away from being Medicare eligible.

          There have been numerous changes to the pension system since I joined in 1979 (High 3 then High 5 I think, Savings plans, etc.). Changes are fine, but they need to be grandfathered into the system. I joined and stayed BECAUSE of the retirement at an early age and for the free healthcare in retirement, which by the way is no longer free. I now pay about $450 per year, which is dirt cheap, but still not what I was promised when I retired. When people make decisions based on the govt regulations in place at the time, the regulations should not be changed retroactively. I cannot change reenlisting or continuing on to retirement age retroactively; the govt should also not change their provisions.

      •  In an ideal world we would have far more young (5+ / 0-)

        people in the Peace Crop and Americorp, and far fewer in the military.  
        Speaking of which- the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps people are indeed underpaid when compared to the military. Now that is something worth delving into.

    •  ...great personal info. Welcome... (0+ / 0-)
      Welcome from the DK Partners & Mentors Team. If you have any questions about how to participate here, you can learn more at the Knowledge Base or from the New Diarists Resources Diaries. Diaries labeled "Open Thread" are also great places to ask. We look forward to your contributions.

      Ignorance is bliss only for the ignorant. The rest of us must suffer the consequences. -7.38; -3.44

      by paradise50 on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 09:29:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  isn't the pay low for getting blown up? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Liberal Thinking

    maybe you should discuss combat pay.

  •  Thank you (5+ / 0-)

    I find it funny that some people here respond with such vitriol when the basic facts are presented.

    You didn't even touch on the four day weekends for holidays and DONSAs (I love militaryspeak, why can't they just call it a day off?) during months with no actual holiday like August.  Or the one month of leave per year that increases over time.

    That's not to say that I think the compensation package for military members needs to be on the chopping block.  I just don't like the way people throw around the idea that the military is somehow underpaid.  I think SnowSoft really hit on some ideas about how, even with an adequate compensation package, some members of the military find themselves in difficult financial situations.

    The only people here who seem to object to your presentation of the facts are either service members from a different era who hold justifiable grudges or civilians who don't like their talking points challenged.

    There is truth on all sides. The question is how much.

    by slothlax on Sun Mar 09, 2014 at 11:23:15 PM PDT

    •  DONSA is 18th Airborne ONLY (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the rest of us call it a training holiday.

      18th Airborne came up with DONSA so they could screw people out of a day off by having Unscheduled activities.

      It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

      by ksuwildkat on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 02:49:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I've been retired for a very long time. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Tell me, have they done away with the 30 day paid vacation each year?

  •  Let's say someone is deployed, (0+ / 0-)

    injured, and then placed on medical hold (for say a year to 18 months) several thousand miles from their dependents in government provided housing during convalescence.  How would that affect the financial position of their spouse and dependents?  Am I wrong that the family would not receive BAH or BAS while the servicemember was no longer overseas, but not able to return to their home, given that the military has only a few facilities equipped to deal with certain types of injury?  

    Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

    by benamery21 on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 12:42:35 AM PDT

  •  I was busting your chops a bit last time around. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Liberal Thinking, lgmcp

    Thanks for the follow-up.  

    And we love to wear a badge, a uniform / And we love to fly a flag But I won't...let others live in hell / As we divide against each other And we fight amongst ourselves

    by ban48 on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 03:41:47 AM PDT

  •  Well, this information is consistent with (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angelajean, lgmcp

    this diary that is full of comments that kids these days join the armed forces because economic forces force them to do so.

    So yeah, pay can't be * that * bad, or they'd just go work at McDonalds or WalMart . .. .

  •  Its about total Household income. (6+ / 0-)

    The author is accurate in his comparison, however I'm unsure just how many service members are stationed in Klamath Falls, OR.  A more accurate comparison would use a larger town, or a location that has a larger economy and a military presence.  San Diego maybe? But my critique extends to the larger picture of household income for military members.

    What ought to be compared is household income instead of individual income, and here is why:

    Dual incomes are the norm in the United States
    PCS movements greatly hinder the service members ability utilize the primary savings vehicle used by a majority of Americans: Homeownership.  (I know promoting home ownership isn't ideal public policy but its about operating in the world as it exists.)

    Frankly military service often precludes a service members spouse from fully participating in the workforce.  With the PCS movements/deployements a spouse will not have the ability to grow a career or have stable employment.  This lowers the total income for the household.  This is why Junior enlisted can seem decently compensated as individuals, but still not seem to be getting ahead.  Its the lack of that second steady income that lowers their total household income leading to economic insecurity.  

    The 20 yr retirement is one of the few redeeming compensation factors that can make up for the difference when taken over the life of the member.  

    Obviously I think military members ought to be compensated more, but what form of the compensation should it take is always up for debate.  Greater non-taxable income (BAS/BAH), base pay (Which links to retirement), benefits package, or quicker retirment packages to encourage more turn over.  Which in my mind is a better social good for more citizens to have service experience.  

  •  It Doesn't Mean Airman Doe Is Overpaid (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    anna shane, mickT

    Comparing these two people doesn't show Airman Doe is overpaid. The truth is that most workers in the U.S. are underpaid.

    We have a national policy of holding down wages and shipping wealth-producing jobs overseas. In the last few decades, worker productivity has gone up over 80% but wages for typical workers have gone down slightly in real terms. This is in contrast to most of the twentieth century when wages increased in proportion to worker productivity.

    We also have almost 1% higher unemployment than we did before we moved manufacturing out of the country. This has held wages down.

    In addition, the minimum wage is now about 3/4 of what it was in the 1960s because it has not been adjusted with inflation.

    In addition, you have to consider that neither of these people in Klamath Falls is paying sales tax. Oregon has a higher income tax rate than many states, but it has no sales tax. This is a progressive state.

    You could contrast that with Washington, which does not have an income tax. If this pair of examples lived there, the civilian would have no state income tax. But they would both be subject to sales tax, and in Washington even services are taxed.

    But, fundamentally, what I see in the numbers is two people who are not being paid a living wage. This is the basic reason people need government benefits. They are not being paid enough for their jobs. If we want to cut these benefits, the logical way is to increase worker pay.

    And, we should have a universal publicly-funded healthcare system that encompasses everyone, civilian and military. That would not only increase the effective compensation for the civilian in this case, it would save society a boatload of money.

  •  E-5 friends collected food stamps (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    siduri, Eyesbright

    when I was in (out in 1976) if they had a wife and kids.

    I was paid less than them for the exact same work, rank, time in and experience.

    I think people were venting about that, not about higher ranking officers being over paid or not.

    Most enlisted people hate officers, that's another factor. In no other job is there a class structure that is as feudal as in the military.

  •  Huh, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I read all the way to the end, and of 110 comments, not a single comment by the diarist.


    How did this end up in Community Spotlight???  I'm not sure I want to be part of a community that thinks this drop-and-run-diary represents us, honestly...

    © grover

    So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

    by grover on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 11:40:35 AM PDT

    •  To be fair.. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lgmcp, tgrshark13, VALuddite

      .. i did have one response - it's up above with the title "thanks for commenting" to back up some numbers and respond to a few points qazplm made. Some odd formatting stuff happened on the Oregon state tax formula, probably because I used the asterisk character

      I'm trying to find a balance between listening and reading what other people have to say, too, and sticking up for my own point of view. Your comment above suggests I have made that decision too far in the direction of silence, so I'll try to learn from that. As a newcomer here, I defer to your low user number.

      Given the nature of some of the comments above, it seems to be wise to me to avoid responding directly to them, because arguments generally produce more heat than light.

      I don't think the subject of military compensation is, a priori, off limits, and if it's going to be discussed, it should be on a basis of the actual numbers. There are facts, and we can look them up. I did my best to present them here as clearly as I could.

      Oh, and your point about overtime is well-taken. You could pivot from that to a discussion of how unions can enhance the quality of life for their workers, which I would find interesting.

      •  Having never written a diary myself (0+ / 0-)

        I can only say that based on my observations, there is an expectation that the diary author check back throughout the day to review and respond to comments.  That doesn't mean one is obligated to respond to every single one.  Some of the comments seem to be made without fully reading or comprehending your diary.  Others seem to be trying to pick a fight.  Thank you for trying to shed some light on the topic of military compensation.

        "The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now." - Chinese proverb

        by VALuddite on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 06:26:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  This is a great perspective..... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lgmcp, mmacdDE

    ....and as an active Senior Airman/E-4 in the Air Force (well, the Air National Guard -- don't hold it against me lol), I appreciate the analysis -- and the comments from our veterans (thank you for your service).

    From the Junior Enlisted (E-1 through E-3/E-4) perspective, this is, in my opinion, pretty spot-on.  Both CONUS and OCONUS pay, factoring in base bay/BAS/BAH/per diem, is pretty standard, and in many cases, trumps many civilian compensation factors with comparable civilian jobs.  

    However, I can see the concern with special duty/combat/aircrew/etc. pay, and those issues should be addressed depending on the various circumstances (i.e., location; duties).

    I think a major concern is examining NCO/SNCO pay in relation to civilian comparisons.  I don't have to tell you that many NCOs/SNCOs have the same education and experience as that of the officers that they serve under, and in many circumstances, NCOs/SNCOs are more educated/experienced than many of those officers in general.  Attempting to translate that to the civilian/private sector should be a primary point of focus (especially for Reserve/Guard personnel, who actually work in both sectors.)

    Lastly, I truly believe that the DoD needs to look at restructuring and spending, especially in relation to wasteful and unnecessary spending.  Curving those obstacles alone could create a surplus of funding into boosting military pay at all levels.  

    Just my two cents.... :)

  •  Kudos for a fact-based argument. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 12:32:31 PM PDT

  •  Nice cherry you picked (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bookends, mickT

    You either knew or aught to have.  I dont know which is worse.

    Pay for all service members follows a pretty predictable inverse bell curve.  Initially we are very well paid in comparison to what we are worth/give back in value.  We get a lot on the back end too because of retirement.  In the middle, pay is hardly generous.  E-2s are asked to do very little past showing up every day and doing what they are told.  Compared to the level of responsibility, the pay is quite generous.  Now lest fast forward a few years......

    Army Sergeant Smith has 3 years in.  His base pay is $2,440.20.  Sergeant Smith is single and therefor lives in the barracks - no housing allowance.  He also takes his meals at the dining facility - no BAS either.  Wouldn't matter anyway because he is deployed to Afghanistan.  On the positive side $100% of his pay is tax free and he gets a whole $7.50 a day extra because someone is trying to kill him.  

    SGT Smith is a Squad Leader with 8 soldiers divided into 2 x 4 man teams.  He is responsible for 800 meters of defensive perimeter when at the FOB and his squad is on point for most patrols.  When in a city he has from 10-2.  He is responsible for every aspect of the 8 lives he has been entrusted with.  He has to train them, ensure they are fed, housed and cared for medically.  He has to ensure they conduct all their missions as well as maintaining their equipment, weapons and even their clothing.  He is signed (responsible) for over $500,000 in military equipment - vehicles, heavy weapons, night vision devices, radios, encryption devices, etc.  SGT Smith is 21.

    He does all that for less than $32K a year.

    It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

    by ksuwildkat on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 01:40:11 PM PDT

    •  Agreed. (0+ / 0-)

      Just under 32K under your assumptions. Assuming the barracks and the chow hall have no value to SGT Smith, since he pays for neither housing nor food while in garrison, you're precisely correct. The housing and subsistence allowances are issued, and untaxed, largely because the military finds it easier to just pay people to procure these services on their own rather than provide them directly. SGT Smith receives these in kind, rather than in cash, but a judgment about the relative

      I think the point you really have made, though, is that combat pay is too low. I'd agree with that absolutely. The 2700/year is matched by a similar savings in avoided FICA tax - but that savings goes up with rank, and perhaps it shouldn't. That's something that ought to be looked into, definitely.

  •  I respectfully disagree with your point of view. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bookends, MargaretPOA, mmacdDE, VALuddite

    Nevertheless, I recognize myself as one of those who argued that a high percentage of lower enlisted are on food stamps.  I looked into it after reading this diary and realized I was wrong.  At most, a little over 57% of active duty or reservists have families X 1.429 million active duty or reserve military = 814,550 military families.  5000 military families were on food stamps in 2011.  5000/814,550 = 0.61% of military families on food stamps.  That is admittedly a miniscule amount.

    Accordingly, I stand corrected on the food stamps point.

    Further, I respect your use of actual facts and calmly asserted positions to make your points.  We are supposed to be a fact-based community, and the many ad hominem attacks made on you are regrettable.

    Nevertheless, I disagree that the pay levels you cite, for both officers and enlisted personnel, equate to "overpay."  The pay is adequate, for non-wartime pay, nothing more.  And combat pay doesn't begin to make up for the hardship imposed on personnel and their families during war.

    You can tell Monopoly is an old game because there's a luxury tax and rich people can go to jail.

    by Simian on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 01:44:49 PM PDT

  •  Scurry along faker - back to Red State (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    You outed yourself.  

    Um, NO ONE in the military calls it a "pay stub."  We get an LES - Leave and Earnings Statement.  I just quizzed 20 people from active Army, Air Force and Navy plus one marine in the Reserves.  NOT ONE called it a pay stub.  

    You just finished a VERY long diary about how you were over paid.  I wouold assume you might have looked at your own pay during the writing of that.  And yet SOMEHOW you overlooked that you paid FICA while deployed?  Yeah, BULLSHIT.

    You have not posted a single thing about military pay that is not publicly accessible at the DFAS web site.  But you didint know that we pay FICA.  Typical.  FICA is not paying taxes.  Only "Income Tax" counts.  

    You assumed that "tax free" in a war zone meant FICA too and having never deployed you didnt know any better.  So you "corrected" me to include extra savings for not paying FICA.  

    Off to Red State with you.

    It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

    by ksuwildkat on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 03:03:08 PM PDT

  •  Spoken like an officer! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Because YOU have determined that their pay is both hunky and dory, then it must be! That E-2 you're discussing gets VHA and BAQ, (as we called it in the Navy) because he or she is married but the ComRats, (food allowance) and the BAQ gets cut during a deployment. Oops! Being deployed half of any given year leaves a giant budget hole. I'm so glad I'm no longer in the service where I was beholden to the opinions of self important paper pushers who have never struggled at any time in their lives. You don't know what you're talking about and presenting a bunch of numbers on a webpage is no more relevant than you're last "I got miner so fuck the rest of you", post.

    "Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for a real Republican every time." Harry Truman

    by MargaretPOA on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 03:06:50 PM PDT

    •  BAS/BAH (0+ / 0-)

      I just pulled a LES.

      If you have dependents your BAS and BAH don't go down when deployed.  Mine never did.  Plus I got FSH which is $250/month.  

      I also received HFP for the time that I was in theater.  That was $225/month.

  •  Your claims don't add up (0+ / 0-)

    You won't say what you do in the military let alone what branch you are in.

    You don't know military terms.

    You don't know enough about your own pay you are claiming is too high.

    You don't no pay policies.

    You advocate for "new" policies or changes that already exist.

    You claim to have "checked" things that you could not have checked

    Pantalones en fuego

    It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

    by ksuwildkat on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 05:51:30 PM PDT

    •  Ok I will bite... (0+ / 0-)

      13 years AF/11 years ANG.  AFSC's:  1A251, 2A351, 4F071, 41A3.

      Both enlisted and officers are pretty fairly compensated compared to civilian educational and training equivalents.  

      The military paid off $37.5K of student loans and paid me $46K tuition assistance/GI bill that got me an MBA from a public ivy university.   I never put a penny out of my pocket for my O-4 retirement that I collect at will 60.  I also as able save a very nice sum of $$ in my TSP.

      I received awesome experience and training and I now work for a fortune 5 company.  I will eligible for a second pension and will be able to retire very well at with Tricare and VA benefits.

      The military can be quite lucrative and rewarding if you understand the system and use it to it's fullest.  

  •  To those who "thank" this diarist for his calm (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    factual manner, might I observe that this is one of the good o' troll techniques that bobswern and others have highlighted here.

    It's foolish to go down the rabbit hole of crapping on each other, those of us at the lower end of the wealth-distribution curve. What is it that gets people to vote for that asshole in Wisconsin who carries ALEC (polluted) water for the Koch boys? Who is killing unions there, with cronies doing the same everywhere else? Who so successfully have played out that scene that has been offered as a wry joke, so may times:

    The CEO sits down to a meal with the working stiffs. He swipes all the food off all the serving plates, leaving a few insignificant scraps, and stuffs it down his pie hole. There's a plate of luscious warm chocolate chip cookies. the CEO grabs all but one of them, gobbles them down, and looks around at the rest of the hungry people and says, "Look out! The person next to you is going to grab that cookie if you don't beat them to it!

    As to officer pay, I was an EM a very long time ago, but from what I can detect from and other places, the "O" attitude for way too many of them is "fuck the troops," and "I deserve even more." As to how officers get paid, you might look at this little link on how the uppers live, and it is way beyond what "bookends" lets on. But that's not really his intent -- he wants you all to agree that those in "service," too many of whom are at best, parasites and at worst, metastatic tumors, to get us mopes thinking it's ok to keep cutting pay and allowances and pensions and benefits not just for "the Troops," but for all the working stiffs. There are several definitions of "bookends," maybe some will find illumination in this one:

    And sorry if I am breaking some etiquette rule by reproducing my text from another comment here, but this dude is poisoning us with an overdose of our too-sensitive natures, our willingness to "listen respectfully" and all that stuff that destroys any chance we have as progressives to ORGANIZE and see who the real opponents are and stop eating our own young and old. This text is taken from this comment to a diary by a real officer who is sickened by the fraud that is the "Defense Department," in all its huge clumsy fucked-upedness and infinite capacity to steal our REAL wealth and REAL security -- that is the REAL problem we face, trillions for War Is A Racket:

    (The diarist was expressing sorrow from ) learning the nature of the gulf between what these O-5-and-up dudes pledge to do, to get their commissions as "officers and gentlemen," that involves promising to "support and defend the Constitution" and obey the chain of command, and what they actually DO do.

    They lie, BIG Lie lie, about the nature and magnitude of "threats," here's one little example of the literature and scholarship on that point:  The live like kings, at our considerable expense, again one bit of the documentation: They are immensely corrupt and corrupting, to the point that trillions of dollars in our wealth that could be used for the General Welfare get used for the Welfare of the Generals and an unaccountable bureaucracy and commercial welfare state for weapons systems, have simply "disappeared." and decades more of voices crying out in the wilderness, unheard.

    And it's hardly news that there are cadres of "Chritianists" and "superpatriots" in the officer corps who are all about "taking America back," from or to something or other, and that these dudes take that oath with their fingers and toes and eyes crossed:

    And there's a long and ugly history of generals and Bidness Interests having the same kind of thinking as the generals who own so much of the Egyptian,  and Myanmarian and sub-Saharan African nation's business and economy, and are like the old New South Wales Corps and their corruptions in colonial Australia, "seeing their opportunities and taking them." The most noted example I am aware of is the "Business Plot," where back in the Other Great Depression, in 1933, some of our oligarch/kleptocrats were going to use a Marine general who took his oath seriously to stage a coup of FDR's government. "Allegedly," my ass. If one cares not to believe there are still such people around, read the comments to this link: I'll not pollute the space by sticking in links to all our home-grown "heroic" sites where people talk, and plan, about "taking our country back." Back to the plantation, that is.

    And forget about all the insubordinate generals and colonels all through the history of our Republic-turned-Empire, and the threats they posed to that fragile "democracy" thing, and stuff like the way our General Heroes treated the Bonus Marchers, "Thank you for your fucking service,"

    So it seems to me, for all the disdain in other comments, that the diarist was saying something very substantive, was actually testifying from personal knowledge, about some of the Reeeeallly Bad Shit that is maybe inherent in every military force since Hammurabi's day, and that appears to be on its way to another sort of hegemony if the Pentagon has its way, per its planning documents, as they busily create the Global Interoperable Network-centric Battlespace that is designed to control, by force and subversion, just about EVERYTHING, using both the Global Terrorist Threat Fear War thingie and the "cover" of "managing the threat of climate change" to preeeetty much run EVERYTHING. If you are a doubter thinking "conspiracy theory," but have a little time, read THIS and weep... both for what it says about a too-likely future, and about how the military, "inter-operating" with the militaries of all the other countries in the "Command" areas the world is divided up into, plans to create business opportunities for nominal US but mostly post-national corporations to sell heavy earth-moving machinery, and seed crops like Monsanto's GMO stuff, and on and on...

    If one is  bored and has nothing else to do, one might link up with this document, and if it's too long and boring, at least jump to page 59 and maybe think about what's written there and in the next few pages...

    Here's the link to that comment, and to the diary and snotty comments and putdowns it responded to,  for anyone who gives a shit about the REALITY and wants to maybe peer behind the blandishments of ol' Grima Wormtongue Bookends, here, and his probably one of many efforts to sow fear, uncertainty and doubt, among the Rabble who work their asses off to create all the Real Wealth that the military Milo Minderbinder Machine sucks up, along with that other monster, the New AMerican Business Model, that has fewer and fewer of us doing more and more work with greater and greater productivity for less and less money.

    Too bad it's so easy to take advantage of the better natures and dare I say it, gullibility, of kindly people. So folks, you might read this little piece on the different kinds of poisonous trolls that are out there, particularly the "tactical" and "strategic" kinds, and the games they play to defeat the utility and power of the net communities like this one.

    "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

    by jm214 on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 07:15:30 PM PDT

  •  Everyone under Major is under-compensated. (0+ / 0-)

    I don't know how you compare a military life on the line job with a civilian equivalent.

    The salaries should be doubled at the bottom crossing the zero change at Major and cutting a higher and higher % up to the 5 stars.

    Respect for the soldiers, my ass. America and especially Republicans are full of shit when it comes to all the faux concern and respect.

  •  You fail to address a key point: (0+ / 0-)

    Single Marines do not get BAH, and only shift standers get BAS (and lose access to the chow hall in the process.)

    I was stationed in the Hawaii for my entire enlistment in the Marines. I was unmarried, and while on paper all of my income was disposable due to free barracks and chow hall, the reality is that the barracks are a roach infested hell hole, and my duties often caused me to miss my "free" meals.

  •  This post has been up for days (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    anna shane, angelajean

    There are 217 comments as of right now and a whopping 38 whole reccs, with 43 tips.... Can anybody tell me why this post is being spotlighted? This blog is so becoming something that is being written for people who are in sycophantic agreement with one another, leaving the majority of us out of the clique. Oh, well. It seems to always happen eventually. I thought Daily Kos might just avoid that long and contentious slide into irrelevancy. Guess not.

    "Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for a real Republican every time." Harry Truman

    by MargaretPOA on Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 04:15:47 PM PDT

  •  Bas/ Baq (0+ / 0-)

    Basic allowance  for Quarters is only paid to those who reside off base, with permission of their commander, Basic allowance  for subsistence is called "separate rations" and  is paid to those living on the local economy, instead of those who reside on base in base quarters. NOT everyone gets BAS and BAQ. There are other allowances paid to those who have NO  military services available, Known as allowances "in-kind" because they have to find as an example their own food or quarters on the local economy. Military can receive "Rations In-Kind" as compensation for when NO food source is available, essentially paying them for missed meals. This article implies EVERY military member receives these, its simply not the case.

    Single airmen who reside in a barracks, get nothing but their base salary. That salary doesn't compare to civilians who work 9-5, five days a week. Military personnel may work a normal 48 hour week, in the USA,  and can be worked up to 20 hours per day as long as they have 8 hours off every 48 hours. That could be  20 hours on, 8 hours off, 20 hours on. NO Overtime. In WAR, deployed its 24/7/365. on duty ALL of the time, and  for as long as it takes.

    In addition most military are between the ages of 18-26, and  are performing managerial duties, at a comparatively young age. This isn't managing a  McDonalds, this is managing $MILLIONS in Military equipment, ordering parts, and having "custody" of  and financial liability for everything the military purchases and uses. EVERYTHING is tracked and accounted for many times a year. Munitions , firearms, ships, aircraft, clothing items. "Issued" clothing is deducted from the paycheck, it isn't provided 'free'.  In fact many of the things people seem to think the military gets for free, come out of their pay as payroll deductions, and if the  member participates in everything there will be no pay left. Contributory Medical, Contributory education account  savings, co-pays for prescriptions, Medical for dependents which used to be provided, now costs. Contributory "term Life Insurance" and  regular life insurance is not available to military because they are 'high risk'. Also the full range of taxes are paid by the military, Fica, unemployment,  Income tax with-holding,  (Now) premiums for ObamaCare.

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