Sorry, didn't mean to offend, but when I hear "we" it's typically in the form of the "all of the people in the group" as in "we went to the bar last night", means everyone involved at the time. So for me to see "we" about the military seemed to indicate you were speaking for everyone, which puzzled me a bit considering as I'd stated, it's an extremely diverse group.
Let's get specific here, when did you serve? You say "in all my years of service", how many was that? I'm also curious as to which branch you served in? Not trying to dig you here, just curious. I know based on your mention of VEAP you probably joined somewhere between 1977 and 1985, so it's possible we were even in at the same time.
To be fair, I served in the Air Force, enlisted in 1982 to left in 1993. I flew a desk , first as a computer operator for 4 years, then writing software for a Joint Chiefs command and control system for the next 7. So as things go I had it pretty easy, which to me was a smart thing to do. I grew up in a Army family and had spent my life on a military post all over the world, so this was really my second enlistment. I was trained in computer programming in 11 weeks by the Air Force, and then went to earn my degree in Computer Science while serving, going to school at night for almost 8 years. So probably a similar story to your, which is why I'm curious as to why we can be so different in our views of the issues of today. I enjoyed my time in to get out and see the world, I used to catch military flights all over to visit places and experience new cultures. The benefit of having a friend who programmed on the manifesting system for military airlift command and could get me a seat almost anywhere any time I wanted .
Who is demanding to be taken care of? If it's refugees, they typically just want a place without bombs falling, oppressive regimes, or religious persecution. I don't see many showing up and deciding that their new host country isn't good enough for them. We also have to remember that due to our rather Imperial moves that we pull off in many parts of the world, protecting our "interests" such as in the middle east, many of the refugees are often at least partly due to our own actions. It seems only the right thing to do to help fix the messes we make when we roll in and start blowing things up. Personally I'd prefer we stop blowing shit up, unless it's really a mission to save lives, but as long as we see "national interest" which is typically oil or something of that type, we don't really care much.
If it's illegal immigrants, most of those are here for jobs, and that's about it. And the jobs they end up with are not typically the most glamorous, and I'd say are usually downright poor. And I really don't blame them, they heard there were people here who would hire them and let them earn. I'm surprised that as patriotic as you sound that you are totally incensed by the unpatriotic business that provide these jobs. Those are the real leaches on our country IMHO, they are the ones who perpetuate a "slave" class in practice, offering jobs to people who legally can't complain, and then typically working them in conditions that are in many cases not even legal to OSHA or other labor standards. So for me I don't get upset at the people trying to make a living for their families, I get upset with the employers who profit from this and then scapegoat the problem to the workers in order to hide their own crimes. Want to deport someone, start with the owners of the businesses doing the hiring.
I always find this argument a little specious. It would be impossible to get each taxpayer to agree on exactly where their tax dollars go. This is why we don't try, we let our elected officials decide where it needs to go. So you do have a way, vote. Personally I think we drop more into the military than we should, and that might sound strange from an 11 year veteran, but it's because I'm a veteran that I say that. We waste money in the military every day, or at least did when I was in, and while it could have changed, I really doubt it. Does an Army post really need to continue to have a stables to support their mascot mules? I'm not sure we really need mules any more in the military, do we? And when you look at the contractors lining up for their pork barrel projects, this is why I got out. I kept seeing projects being given to contract companies for many times the cost we could do ourselves, but some Senator had a favor he owed to a donor, and it meant making sure a particular company got a fat contract. Watched it happen over and over, and again, it could have changed, but I really doubt it as it had been happening since the military was formed. Any time you get a budget that big it's too easy for everyone to carve a little pork off of it. And we spend when it's downright stupid, there are so many things maintained by the military that are based on "tradition" that are completely ineffective today. Example, the Air Force still requires drone pilots to be real pilots... Say that again, you have to train a person to be a real pilot so they can fly a drone? They seem to finally have hit the end of the line here and will finally have an enlisted force of drone operators in 2020. But it took them that long to realize that you don't have to be a trained pilot, to the tune of huge money, to fly a drone. Tradition, and a waste of money and talent for years. So yes, I'd like to see less of my tax money go to the military.
But the rub is it's not up to me. If I wanted to have that decision making power I'd need to run for office and get on a budget committee. The reason, I might not really be able to make that type of decision based on my limited personal experience and what I can learn on the Internet in 10 minutes. My point is, you will never get to say exactly where your tax dollars go, so don't waste time dreaming about it.
Again, not sure who isn't contributing, but it still sounds like to you if someone didn't serve in the military they don't get a full say in our country and where it goes. Reality is we have a paid, volunteer military. In my view it serves two purposes, one is to defend the country, the other is it's our largest jobs program by far. It provides jobs to many who either can't seem to find anything else, or who are out of other options. It's funny to me that once people are out they all wax patriotic about their service, but when you go to basic training, very few are there for patriotism, most are there for a job and paycheck. Maybe the patriotism grows, and the military definitely grows a comradery second to none among it's members. This is why I'm even willing to continue a conversation with you. Anyone else I would have probably "thrown the bozo bit" on a long time ago and left it at that .