Thursday, November 19, 2015

Veterans vs. Refugees: A False Dichotomy

In the debate over whether the US should welcome Syrian refugees, a meme has emerged on Facebook pitting veterans against refugees.  The argument made is some version of "We should take care of our veterans before taking care of refugees." While that statement taken as written may be true, it presents a false dichotomy.

Do we really have to choose between them?
What is a false dichotomy?  It is when someone tries to convince you that there are only two choices, when there are actually more than two.  It is a false ethical dilemma. People who post memes like the one above may not know that they are creating a false ethical argument, and hopefully this post can help them see that.  Plus, I've replied to it so often that I am tired of typing it out every time.  Now I can just link this blog post.  So can you!

First, I am a veteran, and the son of a veteran. My wife and I are both from families with traditions of military service.  If anyone calls me anti-veteran for this post, I will call that person an idiot. Publicly. I am very pro-veteran and it annoys me to see veterans exploited as a tool of argument by people who are anti-refugee or anti-immigrant.  People who exploit veterans in that way are the ones being anti-veteran.

What are our other, and hopefully better choices?  I'm glad you asked. There are plenty, but I especially like this one:

How about we start here?

The US gives out corporate welfare to the tune of  $100 billion a year. Some estimates are much higher, depending on what is considered welfare.  These figures should outrage conservatives. How can we claim free enterprise when the government is feeding corporations?  That's not the free market.  I have many friends who are small business owners and the government is not lining up to subsidize their luxury jet, or even just their fishing boat.

I will use this conservative estimate because there might be some cases where building a road to a plant is a good idea.  In fact, just to be safe, let's cut it down to half and just eliminate 50 billion in corporate welfare.  What can we do with 50 billion?

Current expenditures on veterans=@ $27 billion
We could take just 27 billion dollars of that and double our expenditures on veterans.  That's right! If we eliminated subsidies for luxury corporate jets, we could help homeless veterans find somewhere to live. Instead of handouts to Royal Dutch Shell Corporation, we could provide better medical care for wounded or disabled veterans.  Instead of a $13 Billion subsidy for Boeing we could provide a higher pension for our retired service members.

So let's take just half of the $100 billion in corporate welfare (leaving half of the welfare for the super-rich) and spend $27 billion to double our payouts for veterans.  Double!  That thought ought to make every patriotic American stand up and salute while eating apple pie.

Why aren't we already doing this?  Why has there not been an outcry that homeless veterans should come before corporations and billionaires?

Because this meme is not at all about veterans.  It just uses veterans.  It exploits them to play on patriotism to pit them against refugees.

There's plenty of money to do whatever we need for our veterans, and to help refugees in need.  Are we will to take our corporations and billionaires off of the government dole?  If not, why do you favor giving money to rich corporations instead of helping our veterans and refugees?

1 comment:

  1. Well said, sir. Well said indeed.

    If you truly care about someone or something, you do *not* start using it as a club with which to beat others. Instead, you treat it with respect and caring, as with someone about whom you care.

    The posturing I am witnessing is revolting for much the same reasons.