Charles J. Ingerson

UNFUNDED LIABILITIES

Charles J. Ingerson: Unfunded Liabilities
Photo ©Copyright 2012 by Charles J. Ingerson
Severing the politically correct
self-serving those we elect
illegal aliens needing more
criminals over crowdedness
yet where is freedom’s birth?

Sitting in a foxhole far away
or all alone in Tennessee
some at Valley Forge found
some on foreign lands to stay
all knowing freedom isn’t free!

Raising as the specter of life
seeking just to be again whole
productive and unassuming
instead an unfunded liability
the veteran’s or mortal strife!

Turning away refusing us all
greedy, lustful as those in power
wanting re-election their call
blaming others for this mess
this nation needs to redress!

Col. Steve Strobridge, USAF-Ret.
Col. Steve Strobridge
April 13, 2012
By Col. Steve Strobridge, USAF-Ret.

In reading an (already dated) article about the long-term cost of war, one sentence jumped out at me.

It cited an “unfunded liability” of $1.3 trillion (with a “t”) to provide future disability and burial benefits for veterans — and that figure didn’t include health care.

Health care costs, the writer indicated, could approach another $1 trillion over the next 40 years for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans alone.

One source cited in the article asserted, “This is another entitlement program that could break the bank…”

Pardon me while I take a deep breath…

On one hand, this is what economists do — project long-term costs of current issues. On the other, it’s a perfect illustration of how distorted the world can look when viewed through an economist’s prism.

Let’s start with the fact that these unfunded liabilities are people, not widgets.

Second, let’s recall that these unfunded liabilities acquired this distinction solely because of government orders.

Finally, assigning them to the unfunded liability bin utterly ignores the flip side of the coin: the often terrible and permanent physical, psychological, and financial liabilities incurred by the people who followed those orders — up to and including the deaths that inflict those costly burial benefits on the taxpayers.

Unfortunately, the unfunded-liability perspective almost certainly will grow more prevalent as the nation’s budget problems worsen in coming years.

Today’s amputees receive wonderfully crafted (and expensive) prostheses. When they need to be replaced years down the road, will the country still be willing to cover the cost?

Some have proposed addressing the future funding need by establishing a trust fund. But a trust fund is only a tool, not a cure.

Most existing trust funds (Social Security, Medicare, TRICARE For Life, among others) already are under attack for being unsustainable or costing too much. Further, trust funds carry with them special congressional rules that make solving any funding problems even harder.

It’s a hurtful truth that serious budget problems all too often cause government leaders to do callous things to serve short-term needs.

As stewards of those who served with us, before us, and after us, we’re obligated to call a foul on those who would reduce wounded, ill, and injured protectors of the nation to mere unfunded liabilities.