Losing potential non-coms: the GI Bill v. Blackwater

If offering potential non-coms a college education is a bad idea because it encourages them to leave the service, why is it ok for Blackwater to offer them six-figure salaries (which we have to pay for) to leave the service?

John McCain’s argument against improving the GI Bill is that offering good benefits to servicemembers who leave after one tour will make it harder to develop the cadre of long-service non-coms that is the backbone of any fighting force. Commenter “oddball” on the WaPo politics blog makes a point I hadn’t thought of in this regard: if it’s a bad idea to tempt potential non-coms away from the service by paying their college tuition, why is it a good idea to let Blackwater and other mercenary companies tempt them away by offering them six-figure salaries, which will eventually be billed through to the taxpayers with overhead added?

“Oddball” also asks a question:

Could that have anything to do with the fact that McCain’s campaign is run by uber-lobbyist Charlie Black, who has long represented Blackwater in Washington?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com