Recently someone presented the idea that the Occupy / 99% movement was somehow anti-military. Although the movement contains members with diverse views, the central concept of the Occupy / 99% movement supports the men and women of the military as they are part of the growing populous movement. This is on top of ridiculous rumors which insist that members of Congress and their families do not have to repay Student Loans that Congress can retire on full pay after just one term, and other unfounded accusations to heighten the differences between the ruling and serving class.
Make no mistake; there are clear differences between the ruling and serving classes. There really is a 99% and a 1%; however the exaggerated claims detract from the facts of the matter. To explain, we will compare and contrast factual information about serving in the U.S. Military and ruling in the U.S. Congress. As a result, they distract from the core message behind the Occupy Movement. In abstract, that core message is that a democracy should be beholding to the people it serves rather than the greed of a select few.
Entrance Salary – $174,000.00 (About 10 times U.S. Military)
Student Loans – Congressional staffers may have a significant portion of their student loans forgiven ($60,000 in the House and $40,000 in the Senate) in exchange for a term of service.
Pension – Can draw pension after five years if they are over the age of 62, after twenty years if they are between the ages of 50 and 62, at any age if they serve twenty five years. Pensions can be as high as 80%. (1)
Entrance Salary – $17,892.00 (About 1/10th that of Congress) (2)
Student Loans – Depending on the branch, there is between $10,000.00 and $65,000.00) available in annual payments of $1,500.00, but only if this is arranged before joining the military, only with specific commitments, and only for specific training / educational requirements. In other words, if you choose the right education, the right branch, and the military is hurting for people with your education; the military will repay a $60,000.00 student loan over the course of 20 years.
Pension – 50% of base pay after 20 years, 2.5% increase per additional year, up to a total of 75%. (3) No matter how many years a person serves in the military, it is not possible to reach the 80% available to members of Congress.
U.S. Citizen (Per Census (4))
Per Capita income: $27,041.00 (average individual)
Average Household Income: $50,221
$174,000.00 might not seem like an outrageously high salary for a member of Congress. $17,892.00 might not seem like an outrageously low salary for an inexperienced teenager fresh out of highschool. But the issue of actual pay is not in question. What is in question is the difference in pay between those who claim to serve (Congress / 1%) and those who actually do serve (the military / 99%).
During their first year, a Congressman / woman earns almost 10 times what a soldier does in his or her first year. That amount is roughly 6 ½ times the average income of a U.S. Citizen or about 3 ½ times the average combined household incomes. Even without considering the fact that most of Congress was wealthy before being elected to their positions, one has to ask how it is that we can expect these men and women to represent the interests of the 99% when they so clearly are not part of the 99%.
If the United States is truly a country of the people, by the people, and for the people; Congress will agree to accept no more than the average individual income and agree to pay military members no less than that same amount. Congress should also agree to accept no better pension or other benefits than the average U.S. Citizen and offer no less to members of the military.