In 1932 veterans gathered in Washington in protest over bonuses owed (but not yet due) earned as a result of service in WWI. The bonuses were actually to come due in 1945, but due to the Great Depression (caused by the government) most of these men were out of work and strained to the limits financially. In a word, they protested out of desperation.
The results of their actions are well documented, though disputed in detail. There were two of the most prominent General officers in American history who were active in the event: Army General Douglas MacArthur serving actively and recently retired Marine Corps General Smedley Butler. Both of these were men of dedicated and courageous service under fire.
Butler encouraged the men to peacefully protest and ate and slept on the grounds with them for a couple of days. MacArthur was ordered to drive them out, and depending on the source, the results were a bit ugly and at least two marchers were shot and killed. I admit to a bias toward MacArthur insofar as his side of the story told in his autobiography, Reminiscences. Nevertheless, only a government (called a national one since 1863) could have created such a wretched, damnable episode. Bonuses for military service have an origin going back to the Continental Army in 1776.
That was then. Now, for the now. The 2016 bonus boondoggle. Just because Lois Lerner has retired doesn’t mean that pathetic government bureaucratic financial scoundrels do not lurk about our national empire. Promises of bonuses to veterans, this time having been paid, are now in the eyes of the chosen (usually unelected ones) government officials, a mistake and they (the government) demand these men (and women) give back the money.
The news reported that the order come from The Pentagon, or as someone once described it (maybe Paul Harvey): “That five-sided temple to Mars.” While it would not surprise me that the order came directly from there (with more officers never having seen combat albeit more decorations than Butler and MacArthur combined) the Pentagon takes orders from the great bloated government to which we all are told to swear allegiance. A phone call from the right bureaucrat and the bank of the Pentagon would drop the order and return to paying $1500.00 for a toilet seat.
Even as I write, it appears Ash Carter has gotten the message from the White House as well as the pitchfork crowd. However, those who have already returned any monies will play hell getting a return. Considering the degree to which our government lies, we will have to wait to see if this plays out to the benefit of the guardsmen.
Normally in such a situation as such, the payee would tell the payor to “stick it where the sun never shines.” But just as no one could tell Lois Lerner when she was with the IRS to “stick it” (though she could and did tell Congress to do so) these veterans are having to beg, borrow, and dig into meager pocketbooks and savings to pay for having served overseas. There is probably some rich irony coming, such as the government (Pentagon, whatever) telling the public that it needed the money to pay veterans in veteran hospitals which they never pay anyway.
In Banana Republics, such a demand often elicits marches on the capital, of wherever, with the veterans bringing more to the event than cat calls and protest. Our government with its power through unlimited taxation laws and standing armies led at the top by weak-kneed, officious men (and women) is coming in the future to a reckoning not seen in a century and a half if things don’t change.
Regardless of the great election coming (always, with the eyes of the world on us!– oh, gee whiz), and regardless who of the two is elected, the clown or the crook, the government is not sound now. It is NOT sound. If you cheat men and women who have offered (and some have done so) to shed their blood, there may be another bonus march. And cat calls and protest will be the least of the government’s worries. It will face the best and brightest. Not congress.