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Support our troops — if you can afford it

I’m shopping for street food in the Strip District when a guy approaches me selling bumper stickers decorated with a U.S. flag and the words Support The Troops. I decide to pass.

“Don’t you wanna support the troops?” he asks. I offer to give him $3 only if it’s used for airfare to bring the troops home. He mutters something about my lack of patriotism and wanders off.

Whether the slogan is plastered on a bumper or tattooed on a bicep, claiming to support the troops provides about as much to help some kid in a burning Humvee as a yellow and black pom-pom aids Tommy Maddox’s throwing arm. You’d think we’d know this by now, having failed to stop AIDS and breast cancer with ribbons and car accidents with hokey roadside memorials.

Maybe we resort to simple sloganeering because supporting our troops in any literal sense would take an awful lot of energy. We’d have to get up from the sofa and head to Iraq. There, we could employ our JCPenney metal detectors to unearth roadside bombs or patch sabotaged water pipes with duct tape.

What the Army needs isn’t our so-called support, which generally amounts to loud-mouthing anybody who disagrees with our nation’s latest war. No, what the U.S. armed forces desperately needs is a union.

Look at what labor organization did for our police. Instead of blindly rushing into dangerous and potentially harmful situations, union representation has turned many cops into Reggie Jackson during the last games of a losing playoff series. “My back’s out. Sorry, lady.” “I have to talk to my rep.” And so on and so on.

With the AFL-CIO badge on the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine uniforms, the public’s opinion of what wars and conflicts our armed forces choose to get involved in would have about as much bearing as a fan’s voice at an NFL Player’s Association meeting.

Invade North Korea• Well, what sort of overtime are we looking at• Keep the peace in Liberia• Not without full dental, sick leave and on-site day care for the kids.

Support them• With a union, I doubt we could afford them.


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