The military is the best example of why centralization and public property is inevitably a failure
I’m a veteran, recently separated and served for 6~ years.
Let me share some examples of why public systems are inevitably failures;
The shop van.
Ever unit/shop in our battalion had a van with gov plates assigned to it and used for moving equipment or running errands. This van was driven daily. This van was neglected daily. Like 5x missed oil changes, cigarettes stains, ignored engine lights. These vans were shared and driven by 12-15 people. One was retired before it hit 30k miles at my first duty location and it was daily driven in a 5 mile radius.
In contrast every single one of the guys drove immaculate private vehicles. Mustangs, Range Rovers, an old Jag, Lexus, Mercedes, lots of Jeeps. Updated oil changes, after market parts, weekly car washes…see where I’m going here?
There isn’t necessarily the case for combat vehicles like tanks, planes, helis but this is because there are dozens of personnel assigned to individual maintenance for those vehicles and some liability involved since there is life and death at play.
My stuff syndrome.
When someone serves in the military they are a public servant, paid by the tax-payer and serving the public need. With that public responsibility comes public property; i.e. nothing you use is actually yours.
“Hey don’t sit at my desk!”
“Who touched my phone!?”
“Hey, don’t mess with my operations plan!”
Even so far as to say,
“Private Snuffy is my trooper!”
The reality is, even for the highest ranking officer or NCO, nothing is actually theirs. Not even the publicly funded uniform on their back. It’s all pretend and only operates at a level of juvenile extortion/coercion. It is my belief that the Human mind cannot actually operate properly in this type of public domain and needs to create a subconscious facade of personal property, which creates quite the dilemma for practical matters and sane mutual cooperation. Hence, the UCMJ.
One of the absolute worst things in the military, for me personally at least, is the promotion system. All works stops and everything grinds to a halt in-garrison when even a E-1 is getting promoted. But wait…it’s great when you celebrate someones achievement right? Morale and stuff? Everyone gets promoted to E-2, E-3, E04 ect. after enough time is given and enough dues are paid. Like a union. There is absolutely zero merit to be celebrated, often times there is simply nothing else better to do. It’s coercive entertainment, like a mandatory circus performance.
The promotion reports that have to be written (which don’t even matter since the promotion is guaranteed anyways) are even more hilarious. These are reports that are so audacious, so over the top and so fluffy they would make the most notorious resume grafter blush.Example: ‘ Conducted SNCO promotion briefing/6 NCOs; clarified process/debunked myths–spurred professional growth .’
The laptop dilemma.
This is a true story.
My unit had many to spare and asked what we needed. The unanimous answer was “new chairs”.
We got a hundred ‘G-shock’ field laptops instead. These things were basically running pentium-2 processors and 1990s blackberry screen resolutions. But they were “battlefield durable”…for in-garrison work. We already had a dozen badass laptops for field work.
We went back to leadership and said “You can have these back, we only needed chairs.” Leadership refused to take them back. We were so pissed off we made a case of waste and abuse (not as serious as it sounds) of resource allocation. Leadership’s reply was “Listen, if you return those they will prob get put on a shelf until end of service life. The money has been spent and we needed to spend it.”
The total cost was approx 215k~. They are stored and haven’t been powered on to this day.
I was briefly stationed at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Oahu. The primary medical facility there was a big, pink hospital on a hill off of base, colloquially known as ‘Crippler’ (actually called Trippler). Basically everyone on that island has TRICARE coverage and, if they don’t and are local, have to be seen at that facility anyways because of island law. I witnessed 6-8 hour waits for a basic visit for a fever/nausea, botched joint surgeries, botched baby deliveries (lots of those), commonplace multi-month waits for advance procedures that probably should be done on the same day lol. I mean it’s a real disaster.
BAH (basic allowance for housing) is another major military benefit. The effect of this benefit has on the local housing market in the immediate area around a military base is absolutely astonishing. Let’s say the median renter around the base is a 25 year old E-3 that has a monthly allotment of $2000 a month for rent. This is public information. Every landlord in the area will charge $1800 for rent, as much as they realistically can and still get customers, and there is no chance it will ever fall below that threshold. And they know it is guaranteed income. Government price fixing at it’s finest.
Oh, and the G.I. Bill. This is actually a great benefit until you realize that often times military experience, training and clearances far outweigh any higher education or degree in the private sector. So most times the G.I. Bill is just used by lazy degenerates who separate from the military early and don’t know what to do with their lives because, well, you can live off it. The G.I. bill will cover up to 100k~ of your tuition plus pay for all of your books and and a $2500 monthly stipend for rent and food. Add FAFSA and Pell Grant to this and you can skate for 4 years while earning a bullshit degree and make profit.
Don’t even get me started on VA disability benefits….but I will share one example. Sleep apnea. I swear every single person in the military has some form of sleep apnea. The average soldier is completely hooked on NAC (nicotine, alcohol, caffeine) and barely sleeps from mind-numbingly absurd ops temp anyways. A soldier can literally smoke half a pack of cowboy killers, down half a can of Rip-It and go in for the overnight test. Any reasonable suspicion is linked to in-service causes = instant 30% disability.
I’m thoroughly convinced, after directly experiencing the fake camaraderie, two-faced attitudes and fake-it-until-you-make-it leadership in the armed forces, that the public standing military is only as effective as the grotesque amount of money and largely wasted resources behind it. Nobody serving actually gives a fuck (with the exception of some true warriors in Spec Ops of course) about fighting, winning or effectiveness. It’s simply about doing just enough to please the guy above you and avoid any and all unnecessary responsibility.
Public military forces don’t want to fight; they are paid to fight. And not in like a “mercenary” way, no, like in a levied peasant type of way. This is why, in my belief, private defense and private contracting will always be superior in quality to the public option.
Special needs labor.
In the military (and many other Federal facilities) the administrative services hire special needs and mildly disabled individuals to do menial tasks and labor; i.e. kitchen and janitorial services. I found this quite disturbing, especially when I witnessed more than a few boogers being wiped in my mystery-meat burritos at the cafeteria.
Some might say this is doing those people a favor and the Federal government are the only ones who would hire them, but here I am saying it is degrading. It could just be me and my cynical, jaded ass I suppose. But this isn’t my point.
The base, the publicly funded collection of institutions, is almost entirely maintained by private entities, to include special needs menial labor. Why? Because not even the military members who live and work on them give a shit.
Like the kid who puts their chewed bubblegum on the bottom of their public desk in their public classroom or a person who pisses all over the wall and the seat in a public restroom; nobody, not even the champions of the public (military), give a fuck about public property. So why bother?
Article from r/Libertarian: For a Free Society