Odd Thoughts: A modest proposal for Fantino

Poor Julian Fantino is the latest of Stephen Harper’s cabinet ministers to have gone and stuck his foot in it.

Since July 2013, Julian has been Canada’s Minister of Veterans Affairs.

Julian has been tasked with the unhappy job of reducing the cost of dealing with Canada’s veterans.

One way he has done that is to not deal with them. Meeting with veterans, for instance, costs money, so he didn’t.

Naturally, that didn’t make the veterans happy, especially since they were already unhappy about Julian’s plan to save money by reducing veterans’ access to services, by closing down a number of Veterans’ Affairs offices across Canada.

But luckily, the angry veterans called a press conference, and Julian did get to that meeting on time – ahead of time, in fact.

And still luckier for Julian, one of the veterans there noted that veterans wouldn’t mind if the offices were closed – if there were no veterans to serve.

Now, that veteran reasoned that the way to stop making veterans is to stop making wars.

But there is another way.

Wars, after all, make business sense. And the current government is clearly all about giving us the business.

Like any business endeavour, wars involve assets and liabilities.

Among the assets of war are pride of ownership of new territory, neighbouring countries’ respect/fear, citizens admiration/fear, economic benefits of making, destroying, and replacing valuable equipment, and a highly trained contingent of soldiers.

The liabilities include devastation, the off-chance of losing the war, and of course, having to deal with veterans after they have lost their value as soldiers.

And here’s the real problem: not only do veterans lose their intrinsic business value to the nation and start incurring unnecessary costs as soon as they leave the battlefield, but they also tend to vote at a higher rate than those of us who have to pay taxes to support them.

Plus they garner a lot of sympathy from people who don’t know better.

So they impose political as well as financial liability on the business of government.

And that is the real dilemma faced by Julian (I know I really should be referring to him as “Honourable Fantino,” but I don’t want those veterans upset with me, too).

If only it were as easy as not having any wars! But in the real world, it’s a soldier’s job to fight wars, and it’s the politicians’ job to make them.

So this is my modest proposal to Julian: turn back the clock, and reduce the percentage of soldiers who become “returning veterans.”

It’s really quite easy. First, we have been providing soldiers with far more costly equipment to keep them alive than we did in the great wars of the 20th century. Why?

In fact, the equipment still isn’t perfect, so it tends to result in more soldiers surviving their debilitating injuries, and then coming home as veterans who are even more expensive than the regular, uninjured kind.

Another problem is the quality of medical care that we squander on the front lines – and while we have a doctor shortage right here in Canada, no less!

Thankfully, less-visible injuries such as PTSD are often still not recognized, and therefore don’t cost taxpayers as much as, say, a lost eye or a couple of legs. Fight those who want to change that, Julian. Please!

As Julian and his fellow Conservatives well know, it’s not war that’s the problem, it’s the cost of those darned veterans.

We need fewer of them, plain and simple.

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