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What If The Military Was Run Like A School Or Hospital?

Ok, I’ve worked in a variety of schools and the one I’m in at the moment has given me a photocopy budget of $10. The idea is that we put our resources online and try to be paperless. I don’t have a problem with this except that I’m also expected to photocopy tests and with four weeks to go on my contract, my $10 has run out and I now have to find out what I need to do in order to get this increased. I suppose that I could simply get them all to share the one test paper I have, but that sort of defeats the idea of doing a test and anyway that’s not the point. It made me recall a poster which speculated that the world would be better if schools and hospitals were well-funded and it was the military who had to hold a jumble sale to raise funds for their new fighter planes.

While there has been some criticism of the decision to spend $50 billion on submarines, it’s generally been dismissed as just a bit of a whinge from the usual suspects. To the best of my knowledge, I haven’t heard anyone explain why we need submarines apart from the fact that the ones we have are old, so we need new ones and a dozen seems a good round number. So, I sort of indulged in the politics of envy for a moment. I thought to myself – which is the way I usually think – why do schools have to justify every little thing while our defence forces seem to able to justify vast sums of money to purchase planes with more bugs in them than a David Attenborough documentary about insects.

Yep, image the military being run like a school:

“Permission to discharge the artillery, sir.”

“Hang on, Sergeant, those shells cost over a $100,000 each. What’s the reason?”

“Well, sir, the enemy is advancing and everyone’s used up this month’s ration of bullets.”

“Ah, well, it’s nearly the end of the month. Can’t they just hold out till then?”

“The enemy is getting quite close, sir. We thought a round of artillery just might slow them up until the end of the month.”

“Mm, I can see your reasoning. Why not you submit a proposal in writing and I’ll take it along to the next meeting of the finance committee and we’ll see if can squeeze out enough for a couple of shells.”

“With respect, sir, the enemy will be here by then. Couldn’t we perhaps fire the shells and justify it later?”

“Ah, I admire your idealism, but we need to be rational here. It’s not an unlimited budget after all and we’ve already increased spending and we’re yet to see an improvement in the results.”

“But sir, if we do nothing then we’ll lose our position on the hill and not only that some of our soldiers will be needlessly slaughtered simply because we were too cheap to give them bullets!”

“Now, now a good soldier doesn’t need bullets. It’s the quality of the soldier that counts not all this fancy equipment. Why my grandfather fought off an army with nothing but a rusty razorblade and a terrible flatulence problem. He was charged with war crimes over the use of chemical weapons but…”

“Sir, how can you justify the slaughter of our men when the battalion defending the east flank get to discharge their rifles whenever they like because they have unlimited bullets?”

“Sergeant, those men are private soldiers. Their parents pay for the bullets… That’s why they have enough left over to build that lovely fort in the style of a fourteenth century castle with a moat. Bringing them into this is just class warfare. I’m disgusted with you. We’re all fighting on the same side and it’s this conflict mentality that’s kept you from ever making lieutenant.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Now get back out there and inspire the men under your command. They’re counting on you, you know.”

Well, it’s nonsense, of course! We’d never do that to soldiers who are risking their lives to protect us.

Sick people and kids, on the other hand…


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  1. Vixstar

    We all used to laugh watching F-Troop it’s not quite so funny when F-Troop is running the country. Why did they even contemplate voting for liberal. Great article it makes you see the other side of the no funding for education opposed to writing cheques for submarines we will never get from the french because the company is tied up in curruption allegations in asia. What an F troop of a govenment.

  2. Phil

    In a nutshell Rossleigh – in a nutshell.

    “It’s the quality of the soldier that counts, not the all this fancy equipment” – that really says all there is to say about the LNP and its contempt for the public teaching profession!!

  3. Carol Taylor

    Rossleigh, I wonder if the sergeant would be required to bring his/her own tissues for new has to when the ’tissue allowance’ runs out..can be a problem when it’s the little Preppies.

  4. Carlton

    Okay, I will say up front that your comments about school funding are spot on and hell, for that matter, health funding as well is woefully inadequate and even that is a gross understatement.

    After I left the ADF, I began an education degree planning to become a school teacher. I did a first year practical at a public primary school & witnessed first hand how woefully underfunded our schools are. I witnessed a teacher dipping into his own pocket to make sure his kids got what they needed, how wrong is that. For various reasons I didn’t complete my study but, I did see the issues & you’re right it’s crap.

    Also, I live in regional Queensland where we have to deal with Qld health… & they, are crap… possibly the worst state health system in the friggin country though, I’m prepared to be challenged on that…. again, woefully underfunded.

    However, please don’t assume that just because a government decided to spend $50 billion on some shiny submarines that Defence just snaps it’s fingers and gets whatever it wants because, whilst it might appear that way from the outside looking in it really isn’t that way when your on the inside looking out.

    You will perhaps be surprised to find that whilst the money seems to be there for the bright shiny new things, there is never the money for the things you actually need to do your job today. Getting uniforms (that in many cases members actually do pay for after initial kitup) can be quite a challenge coz oh, they don’t have them in stock coz we haven’r reached the trigger for ordering more… in the past there have been times when ammunition has been rationed, when fuel has been rationed & units unable to exercise (ie: maintain there skills) because we didn’t have the money to pay for it. You might also remember that service personnel don’t always enjoy decent pay rises & are generally not only at the mercy of the government of the day but, in fact paycases can & have been sabotaged from within Defence because of the conflict of paying decent wages versus buying shiny new equipment…

    Sadly, Phil we actually have very high quality soldiers but, ya know, if you don’t equip them properly & train them properly & maintain their skills properly, they die, sad fact… I respectfully suggest that if you’d been there, you would know this already.

    I agree completely that $50 billion on 12 subs when we claim to have budget issues & when we are busy slashing funding to essential services and education is a whole lot of BS but, don’t believe for an instant that the ADF just snaps it’s fingers and gets whatever it wants because, it just isn’t true & the folk on the ground suffer from the same BS budgeting issues that you describe in the education industry. It’s just that if your not in the middle of it, you don’t know about it because our quality serving sailors, soldiers and airmen aren’t allowed to tell you just how shitty it can be… & they just go about their job, just like you do making the best out of whatever they are given. It usually isn’t the best quality gear & there usually ain’t enough to do the job pretty much the way it is for all government funded entities.. oh, except for politicians who never seem to have to cut back on anything… ever….

  5. Carlton

    I’ll also add that the satirical episode you describe is sometimes, not that far from the way shit actually goes down. Funny, absolutely but, makes ya cry when you’re actually having these type of arguments up the chain.. and you do.. constantly…

    We used to joke, what’s the difference between Defence and Boy Scouts.. one of them is run by adults 🙂

    I’m sure you’ll work that one out

  6. John Kelly

    They should call for a truce, enter into meaningful negotiations with the enemy with the aim of calling a cease fire until the end of the month. The enemy, in return for agreeing to the proposition should be permitted to let their soldiers go home on leave in the interim with assurances that they will not be subjected to a surprise attack while seriously undermanned. The soldiers on leave could also bring back some extra tea and coffee for their foe as a gesture of goodwill.

  7. Greg

    I would say the biggest joke here at the moment is , that the LNP government is currently advertising online from at least five over sea’s Australian embassy’s that we know of so far that are recruiting active members of other nations armies to join the Australian Defense Force , They are also encouraging long term unemployed to join when they have their benefits reduced or cut , and the open Tv and internet advertising has increased in the last few months (would love to know where the money is coming from for that) , sad thing is that this current government seems dead set on a active war , wish this was a joke 🙁

  8. Jack Russell

    There’s plenty of money to pay for anything for the government of a sovereign currency-issuing country but this current lot CHOOSE not to – hence the continuous and diabolically erroneous “household” analogy of living within our means mantra to cover their lying arses. Despicable IPA/LNP bastards!

  9. Roger

    Taking Rossleigh’s analogy even further Carlton, let’s do a NAPLAN on Iraq and Afghanistan (throw in Vietnam if you like). I would suggest the masters of war would be out of a job.

  10. Salstarat

    I have been complaining about the outrageous use and abuse of taxpayers money by this warmongering government ever since the announcement to throw away more than $52 billion on obsolete submarines was made months ago. WHY isn’t the Labor Party and the people of Australia not SCREAMING about this issue? WHY aren’t people hopping mad that this government are wasting an OBSCENE amount of money on war and weapons of war and next to nothing on our children?This is what I have said on the matter …..

    My big question is WHERE THE HELL are the malevolent liars in the LNP getting $52 BILLION hard earned Australian tax dollars to fund the scandalous, profligate waste on only 12 useless, obsolete SUBMARINES? That is nearly $2,200 for every man, woman and child in Australia! This $52,000,000,000 is the BIG ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM and the LNP have not made ONE MENTION of where the money is coming from yet they have the bald faced AUDACITY to accuse the LNP of having a black hole! What a sick and twisted joke!

    $52 BILLION is one HELL of a lot of money and when you add to that the estimated $100 BILLION it will cost to maintain them, that is a WHOPPING $152,000,000,000 BILLION for 12 paltry submarines that would be completely impotent in the event of a nuclear war which is remotely fought at the press of a button! To put that outrageous figure in perspective, that is more than $6,333 for every man, woman and child in Australia … just STOP and think about that for a minute! Now, just imagine what we could do with that money if we had a DECENT socialist government in power who actually CARES about Australia and its people, eh?

    $152 BILLION is enough money to feed, clothe and educate GENERATIONS of our children and grandchildren with millions left over to assist the poor and needy of Australia and desperate third world nations! My God, the LNP never stop wasting and pissing money up against a wall on war, weapons of war, ramped up terror campaigns and the relative advertising to promote it! Disgusting, war mongering and morally bankrupt idiots that use division, terror, xenophobic racism and fear for ruthless political gain. On top of that, they have expended more than $240 MILLION on three politically expedient Royal Commissions that have amounted to absolutely NOTHING but the reprehensible abuse of our court system in their failed attempts to discredit the Labor Party!

    What a pack of transparently plotting, scheming rodents the remorseless psychopaths in the LNP are – they will lie and lie and lie, break promise after promise, say and do ANYTHING to maintain their tenuous grip on power. They demand ordinary working- and middle-class Australians to “pull our belts in” but are throwing YOUR money away, like drunken sailors, on outrageous, transparently corrupt schemes to provide themselves with dubious political advantage! The LNP never stop attacking, vilifying and marginalising the poor and most vulnerable members of our community whilst allowing the top 1% of corporate, multinational predators a tax-free existence whilst they funnel millions away in tax-free off-shore havens. The Lying Nazi Party treat ordinary Australians with open, sneering, condescending contempt whilst they lay at the feet of the self serving mining elite, like Rinehart and Twiggy Forrest, who are mining this country into oblivion, devastating our environment and exporting profits – and jobs – overseas. Is there anyone out there who is really dumb enough to vote for these catastrophic, environmental vandals and pathological liars again? Probably, because if there is one thing that is as sure as sunrise, is that LNP sycophants are as dumb as dirt!

  11. Mark Needham

    Better to put them on rations, than shipping them to a war, like ww1 2 an so on. Then having strikes and such, to ensure that our mates and parents who are stranded there, don’t get any bloody bullets or tucker.
    Yes, you are right, exactly the same way you are wrong.
    Remember the old E&OE, used to be used on invoices in particular, back in the old hand/mind calculator days. I have just had a “thunk” it should now, in these times, read.

    E&OE. Errors and Opinion Excepted.
    Self included, Hey!

    Mark Needham

  12. Jaquix

    If only the Libs would apply their answer on cutting funding to the 5th and 6th years of the Gonski program: Money doesnt matter to the outcomes. But the Libs historically always love the military/law and order stuff, it plays to their controlling nature.

  13. King1394

    The more spending accountability is stressed, the more you see the type of thinking Rossleigh describes in schools, healthcare, environmental restoration, you name it. Businesses also flail around with this quite wasteful attention to the expenditure on the day to day costs of doing business rather than investing in effective productivity. Without fully recognising that the goals of many organisations/industries have shifted from efficiently producing an outcome to stopping investment in the people, places and nuts and bolts of the enterprise/activity, this is not likely to change. This behaviour is particularly notable in the expectation of ‘efficiency dividends’ year after year that can be seen strangling public services. But this thinking is not applied to the extremely costly purchases such as in the example of submarines for the defense forces They are quite happy to spend $50billion, but later they will be trying to claw back a couple of $100 by cutting back on food for the crewmen.

  14. jim

    The Liberals are chomping at the bit, for a bloody war, lately “our” ABC in every news bulletin has the war in the MEast isis this isis that I did once really love “our ABC” but since these grubs lied their way into POWER I barely read it. vote LNP out.

  15. 2353NM

    Brilliant Rossleigh. I suspect the $50billion for subs and the $18billion for planes gets up because they are s*xy new toys for the higher ups and the pollies to be photographed with.

  16. Rossleigh

    Strangely, Carlton, I remember thinking when I was writing it that the actuality of defence spending may be nearly as absurd as I was describing.
    I had an idea about suggesting that there was a co-payment for anyone wounded in action, but I didn’t want to give them any ideas!

  17. Random

    @2353NM The sexy new toys are only a small part of it, the return of dividends from shares in weapons manufacture is the rest.

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