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Good man wounded by bad government: Shinseki

The President said it himself, General Shinseki is a “very good man.” Like other Americans who served in Vietnam and other battles at the calling of government, he is a hero. He not only contributed, he invented better ways to do battle. Yet, when it came to trying to fix the Veterans Administration, the General fell on his sword. He didn’t fix it because the VA is a bad product of bad governance.

Shinseki wounded by bad government
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Government nearly always acts with good intentions, however, it is followed by flawed implementation. With every law one must ask, does government possess the capacity to do that? Consider the Veterans Administration from its historical foundation.

“The first veterans law passed in the United States was an Act by the Continental Congress in 1776 promising a half-pay pension for life for all wounded officers, soldiers, and sailors unable to maintain a livelihood. Considering that amputation was the standard medical treatment for wounds to the limbs, this would have included most of the wounded veterans of the Revolutionary War.

In 1778, the Continental Congress guaranteed that officers serving until the end of the war would receive half-pay for 7 years. Enlisted men were promised a bonus of $80 for serving the duration of the war.

Neither of these promises were ever fulfilled. The Congress under the Articles of Confederation lacked the power to raise taxes from the states, which made funding much of anything impossible at a federal level.

Conditions were so bad that the government faced a crisis in 1783 with the Newburgh Conspiracy. Those who were veterans were not receiving the promised pensions and those still in the dwindling Continental Army had salaries in arrears.

It wouldn’t be until the Acts of 1818 and 1832 that full remediation of pensions would take place. Fraudulent claims abused the provisions of these Acts as enough time had elapsed to make it difficult to prove (or disprove) that a claimant had qualifying service.”

"He is a very good man," Obama said of the former four-star Army general and Vietnam veteran. "I don't just mean he's an accomplished man. I don't just mean that he's been an outstanding soldier. He's a good person who's done exemplary work on our behalf."

ABC News

“Shinseki Exit Is Outside Obama Playbook
WASHINGTON May 31, 2014 (AP)
By JIM KUHNHENN Associated Press”

The trouble today stems from a number of factors:

  • Systemic flaws in the government management system that fails to adequately reward and punish poor performance, including firing deficient performers on merit
  • Hamstringing the executive branch from being able to act with executive power and authority
  • Executive branch mistakes in appointing qualified persons to office
  • Failure to monitor and supervise at all levels of governance
  • Congressional failure to provide adequate resources to support legal mandates and requirements

A thorough investigation will pinpoint more root causes.

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