By: Kevin Enilc
Being a libertarian in arguably the most socialistic institution in the United States can be incredibly frustrating. What is this organization I speak of? Why the U.S. Armed Forces, of course! The following list is 6 times I’ve rolled my eyes DEEP into my skull while trying to survive my almost 5 years in the US Coast Guard as a libertarian.
I don’t know about you all, but as a libertarian, I hate being told what do. You might not be aware of this, but the military is not exactly a bastion of free thought and individuality. Surprising, I know. From the day you step off the bus for Basic Training until the day you sign your DD214 discharge paperwork, you jump when you’re told to jump; and the only question you are allowed to ask is “How high, sir?” If you’re lucky they will say, “Figure it the f*ck out.”
2. Travel/PCS Orders
In my 5 years of service, I permanently changed stations (PCS’d) three times to three different states, moved temporarily twice to two different states and deployed to the Caribbean four times for 60 to 110 days each time. Trust me, it was no Carnival cruise either; especially when your ship was built during the Vietnam War, held together by a mix of sturdy paint and hopes and dreams. In all those moves I was only able to go where I requested once… home, when I left the service. As a piece of government property, you are subject to relocation at anytime in line with the needs of the service, the minimum notification is two weeks. If you own a home, have kids in school (or yourself), have deep roots in your adopted community, or have family obligations like an elderly parent you may assist with; being told you need to be in Guam or Germany in two weeks can be a frustrating situation.
3. Waste, Fraud, and Abuse
Pictured above is the Pentagon’s most publicized wasteful blunder. The $1 trillion F-35 project created a jet that does half of what its predecessors did for quadruple the cost, at the benefit of Lockheed Martins profits of course (and the politicians campaigns they bankroll). Whether we were doing the yearly “spend down,” replacing perfectly good furniture, televisions, printers, and tools, or contracting out work to civilians we could do ourselves; the defense budget has more holes than a D-Day bomber. Nothing is more frustrating than not having money for parts and gear you need to do your job, when you just spent the entire unit budget on ergonomic office chairs a week ago. It happens more often than you think.
4. Going Against Your Conscience
Luckily, I’ve never been to war. I can’t imagine the hard choices and life changing decisions my brothers-in-arms on the “green” side of the armed services had to make in the fog of war to survive. For that I will never judge them. I direct my disgust at the scum in Washington who put servicemen and women in that situation. There is a lot of biting your tongue (and ignoring your conscience) in order to do your job as a libertarian in the military.
5. UCMJ and Regulations
The Uniform Code of Military Justice, as well as countless other laws and acts, dictate the rules and regulations that govern every service members life and behavior. Once a service member signs the dotted line, they voluntarily give up some of their rights as American citizens and pick up the burden of thousands of pages of new regulatory codes. Freedom of speech, expression, privacy, association, double jeopardy, habeas corpus, right to remain silent, and right to not self incriminate are not enjoyed by US service members. Service specific regulations keep military men (and women?) clean-shaven and tattooed within exact specifications. Unit level regulations can also determine what type of civilian clothing you are authorized to wear in your personal time. The UCMJ is a pretty archaic document; allowing for liberal use of the death penalty for just about every offense imaginable, as long as it’s during a time of war. My particular favorite UCMJ article is 134, the general article, which allows prosecution of “…all disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces, all conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces…” Article 134 can be used for just about anything, including adultery and sodomy between consenting adults. A good military man only fornicates in the missionary position? Sir, yes, sir.
6. Bureaucracy and Paperwork
Above is an actual picture from a VA facility, sadly, it looks organized compared to some of the offices I’ve seen. I could write a book on the horrendous redundancy and inefficiency of the government records management system. I use records management system broadly, it’s more like a loosely controlled dumpster fire. Instead I will give you an example. The Coast Guard recently went from electronic medical records to paper records. As you can imagine, at some point they painstakingly converted tens of thousands of paper records to electronic records. Now they are going back to the 1990s like MTV throwbacks. It’s worth noting that the Coast Guard is the smallest military branch (under 50,000 members) and it is considered one of the most well-organized and efficient agencies in the entire US federal government. Perfect audit scores every year.
DISCLAIMER: The views expressed above are my own and in no way represent those of the U.S. Coast Guard, the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, or the federal government.
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