July 27, 2017

Trump in Transition (v20)

"After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individual to serve in any capacity in the US Military.

Our Military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you."

No, Mr. Trump, thank you for being so considerate of our tax dollars and how the military blows them on healthcare.

People have actually investigated this issue, the burden of the "tremendous medical costs" that would become crippling to the military if transgender members were allowed to serve. For example, here is some info from an article in Scientific American (which might actually be somewhat of an oxymoron under the Trump administration):
June 2016 study from the RAND Corporation estimated that there were between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender active-duty service members — out of 1.3 million service members in total — and noted that not all of them would seek treatment related to gender transitioning. The study also estimated that the cost associated with medical care for gender transition would only increase military health care expenditures by between $2.4 million and $8.4 million each year — an increase of between 0.04 and 0.13 percent.
The same article references another study, too:
September 2015 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reached similar cost estimates.
 The study estimated that there were about 12,800 transgender service members who would be eligible for medical care. But it hypothesized that fewer than 200 would require care for gender transition each year, based on the percentage of transgender people who sought such care outside the military and the percentage of Australian service members who sought transition-related care.
The overall estimated cost to the Pentagon: $4.2 million to $5.6 million — what the study’s author called “little more than a rounding error in the military’s $47.8 billion annual health care budget.”
It's good that Trump is paying attention to out of control costs in the military, even as he proposes massive increases in military spending. Perhaps he's aware of this article in the failing NY Times back in 2010 which discussed comments by former Bush and Obama administration Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who tried and failed to make changes to the military's health insurance program:
"Health care costs are eating the Defense Department alive," Mr. Gates said in a much-noticed speech in May. Defense budget analysts say that rising health care costs will make less money available for new weapons, repairs to a worn-out arsenal and quality-of-life programs like schools on military bases. 
"In the long run, it could actually limit our ability to field a military of sufficient size," said Todd Harrison, a senior fellow for defense budget studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington.
That's some scary stuff right there, don't you think? Military healthcare costs may actually be putting you and me in jeopardy!

There's lots of information on efforts to reign in these costs, including raising the minuscule 'enrollment fee' for the military's TRICARE insurance plan, which is offered for life even to the millions of military retirees who now work in the private sector and are eligible for health insurance through their jobs. As Robert Gates and others who came after him found, the military lobby is large, it is active, and it has the ear of Congress, so change does not come often, or quickly.

But, the reality is, not accepting or allowing trans people to serve in any capacity - not as translators on the front line, not as analysts, not as cyber experts, not as drone pilots -- isn't going to make a dent in the military's health care budget.

But there is something that can be done that would make a dent, I think: accepting and allowing only people who choose a lifetime of dependent-free living. Single, no kids, no baggage, and no plans to ever stop being singe, kidless and baggage-free.

According to the 2015 Demographics Profile of the Military Community (emphasis added),
Overview of Military Families Across the Active Duty and Selected Reserve population, there are 2,120,505 military personnel and 2,783,141 family members, including spouses, children, and adult dependents.
Here are some facts about those dependents:

  • Of the military personnel, 43.1 percent are single with no children, 34.9 percent are married with children, 15.6 percent are married without children, and 6.3 percent are single with children. 
  • Overall, 41.2 percent of military personnel have children in 2015, compared to 39.9 percent in 2000. 
  • Of the 1,758,365 total military children in 2015, the largest percentage are between birth and 5 years of age (37.5%), followed by 6 to 11 years of age (31.3%), and 12 to 18 years of age (24.2%). Fewer children are between 19 and 22 years of age (7.0%); however, children ages 21 to 22 must be enrolled as full-time students in order to qualify as dependents. 
  • More than half (50.5%) of military personnel are married
  • Of the 1,012,251 military spouses, nearly one-quarter (23.5%) of spouses are 26 to 30 years of age, while 21.3 percent are 31 to 35 years of age, 20.3 percent are 41 years of age or older, 20.1 percent are 25 years of age or younger, and 14.8 percent are 36 to 40 years of age.

I would suggest that providing healthcare for these 2.78 million freeloaders is considerably more costly than it is to provide health care for a small handful of trans people who may decide to transition on the government's dime.

Not only that, but the constant disruption of worrying about spouses, adult dependents, and children while trying to achieve decisive and overwhelming victory must be a huge and bigly burden on our troops, their commanders, and even on Trump's personal generals. We clearly need to nip that worrying in the bud.

And we certainly cannot continue to abide the more than 6% of military people who are single parents -- that is completely unacceptable! We know the only good family is one with a daddy and a mommy who are married to each other.

And here's another idea - check out this graphic, again, from the 2015 Demographics Report:

There were more than 865,000 civilian DoD employees?  For heaven's sake, outsource them! Get them off the government payroll and into the private sector where they belong!

Have the Dealmaker in Chief personally negotiate a cut-throat bargain with the private companies to give us these services on the cheap. Let the private sector treat these budget-suckers like the rest of Americans are treated -- you know, the people caught in the pro-business, market-driven deregulate-a-thon who go to bed every night wondering if they'll still have benefits when they wake up in the morning.

And the best part of my plan?

No one has to check anyone's 'particulars', if you will, to make the decision. It's clean, clear, and straightforward; no messing around in medical records, and no brightly-lighted inquisition rooms required.