“I think a man with a helmet defending his country would make more money than a man with a helmet defending a football.”
I happened upon this quote/meme on Facebook during the week following Memorial Day. It may have been on Memorial Day. I can’t be sure, though. It is pretty simplistic, as memes tend to be, but in this case, it points out something clearly obvious. Maybe not clearly obvious, or obvious at all given that the idea was presented in the first place.
Of course, agreeing with the message of the meme, I decided to share it. I thought it would get a good reception from so many friends that unabashedly support our men and women in uniform. It has received two “likes” so far out of some 246 friends that may have seen it. Now, I know that not everyone has seen it, and honestly some friends just pass by my posts because we do not agree on anything, but this one was for them. This is something that, without a shadow of a doubt, we can all agree on. But, like I said, they probably didn’t see it.
One of my friends commented on it, pointing out the infallible dictation of the law of supply and demand (I added the “infallible” and its emphasis).
In a previous post, I ended by saying “Need vs. Want is complicated!” This is where my mind goes when the issue of supply and demand shows its head, and even though I know it is an invaluable tool that shows the price, and fluctuations of price, in terms of supply versus demand, and those fluctuations, I still cannot help but think it is an imperfect idea.
I mean, people talk all the time about how ridiculous it is that athletes, show business entertainers, and others make so much more than military service members, firemen, police officers, teachers, and other service roles. Yet, nothing about the purported problem changes unless one of those that brings in the big bucks refuses,or takes a voluntary reduction of, pay.
Why is that exactly?
This is where the law of supply and demand rears its ugly, unforgiving head and shows us the cold, hard, and indisputable truth:
Actions speak louder than words.
Every time we choose to spend money on a given form of entertainment, be it a sporting event, a movie, a play, a musical, a concert, what have you, we influence its demand and the demand for that given product or service rises. With enough choices in favor of the same product, the demand for it rises and affects supply in a negative way, and the cost goes up as the demand outgrows the supply and the supply cannot keep up with the demand. Increased value is attributed to the sought after product, and the cost is paid by those that demand it, and it is paid willingly.
In essence, we vote for, and decide the, value of a product or service with every dollar we spend, so each dollar, or cent, is a ballot that determines what is deemed most important to the holder of it.
There are some things that supply and demand cannot illustrate accurately for us, however. As I said, people talk about how ridiculous it is that entertainers, athletes, and the like make so much more than uniformed service members. This seems to make things tricky because the market, and its law of supply and demand, does not dictate the value attributed to military service members or any government expense. The people, directly or indirectly, decide the issue themselves.
Practically, as laid out by our government’s foundation proclaims, “We the People” are the voice that influences the actions and words given out by the government, and as such, the government carries out the people’s will. As much as people complain about the government, and that it ignores the will of the people, data and observation show that the reality is that it listens to the people, and listens well.
Every two years elections are held to reshape the government as the people see fit. One branch of Congress is chosen completely, and one-third of the other is elected. Each legislator is eligible for re-election at the end of their respective term of office with no limit as to how many terms they may hold. So, theoretically, Congress can remain constant forever (hold on to that thought).
Every four years, an executive is chosen. There is a maximum of two terms that a given individual may hold for this office, so a maximum of eight years is the term for a constant manner of executive leadership. Every four years, theoretically, the executive can be changed, and every eight years it has to change should it not change in the first four years, according to the Constitution.
There are arguments for and against the structure of elections, terms of office, and limits of those terms, but those are issues for another time and another post.
The issue here is that people presumably wish for better treatment and pay for those serving in the military and for those who have served. Yet, this issue is never fully resolved. Ever. For decades, I have observed people wanting more in terms of pay and treatment for active duty, reserve, and veteran members of the military. And for decades,I have observed the government not responding to the pleas of the people with actual policy changes, but only with sound bites and campaign promises. Service members are paid beans next to those performing related tasks and jobs in the private sector, and veterans…well an observation of the VA tells their story.
But here is the rub.
The House of Representatives is re-elected an average of 90% of the time. The rate of incumbency in the Senate is a little less at an average of about 80% or so.
Given that, how do people expect treatment of service members and veterans to change when we willingly (there is that word again) refuse to change the branch that dictates how service members are paid and treated by the government?
Perhaps government is not so different from the market and supply and demand. Both are swayed by public opinion. Demand of both are dictated by choices the people make, and people make those choices based on the wants and needs they experience. Choices are made consciously and willingly. The only difference is that one is decided by the ballot and how it is filled out, and the other is decided by the dollar and how it is spent.
Words are loud and empty. Actions, and decisions based on those actions, are louder and have actual substance. If we continue to make the same choices but demand a different outcome, what does that say about us?