The day the president congratulated SEAL Team 6 with a handshake, Brett Favre’s face and hands were back in the news, contemplating his future while throwing a football.
Assuming the NFL lockout ends, the minimum rookie contract for the recently drafted rookie class is $340,000. Brett Favre made $11 million in his last year, $122 million over 20 years and could earn more if signed this year. Favre is called a “A Great Warrior” for playing field general and throwing bombs in a game, which thrives on military analogies. When he finally retires and his knees crackle and head throbs, he’ll be at the Mayo Clinic.
By contrast, and for all their present popularity, SEAL Team 6 will only make a living wage as long as they manage to stay alive. The average salary of the Pvt. 1st class is $19,000 a year; a Sgt., $36,000; and a General, $96,000. (Favre made $45,000 a day.) And SEAL Team 6 doesn’t do combat analogies. The bombs they throw explode. If they survive their contracts, they will retire anonymously. Their knees will crackle. Their heads will throb. They will access the same health care as every other veteran.
Is anyone throwing the flag here?
Not the left. They’ve harped about the dangers of the military-industrial complex since Eisenhower but are complicit in this core inequity.
Not the right. After a decade of flashing “Support the Troops” bumper stickers, they don’t really want their love of trickle-down economics to trickle down to the troops.
Not us, sports fans: If Favre plays, we’ll pay a buck for a new “Support the Troops” sticker and pay $200 to see him throw bombs.
I’ve a modest proposal: Pay servicemen and women what they’re worth. For too long have we exploited loyalty to capitalism and country and not rewarded it at fair market value. It took 10 years and a trillion dollars to get Osama. Most of the trillion lines the pockets of defense industry contractors that would sell suicide vests to al Qaeda if they could make a profit.
I suggest anyone surviving basic training start at the same pay as a congressman. The average grunt is more ethical and committed to the Constitution than any congressman, and uses similar skills but runs far greater risks than any NFL lineman. Special Forces should get Pro-Bowl bonuses. No general should be paid less than Bill Belichick.
I’m glad Bin Laden’s gone and hope his death allows us to re-evaluate the true costs of war. Despite rhetoric about not burdening our children with debt, we are still paying for Vietnam in terms of health-care costs. (Rummy’s unknown unknowns.) It’s our grandchildren that will pay for SEAL Team 6’s future surgeries.
I’m tired of soldiers returning from four combat tours, bones and families fractured, unable to find work, given a handshake and heroes fanfare on Memorial Day and then forgotten. Perhaps when we face the true costs of war, we’ll understand the business of finding peace and prosperity. Funding shock and awe perpetuates war, and will eventually leave us all economically and morally bankrupt.