I was born just a few months before
the United States formally entered
World War II. Some of my earliest
memories include watching the troop
trains and military equipment on
the trains across the street in the
switching yard. This and the stories
my father told of his brother's service
in both wars gave me an early interest
in military history. I have read
avidly such works as the complete
Navy history of destroyer operations
in World War II. I enjoyed reading
Xenophon's "Anabasis," a
history of the Greek military unit
that rented itself as mercenaries to
Empire in the time
before the Greek wars with Persia.
When I was in college, I used to
spend the idle hours between classes
the manuals in the ROTC offices.
I loved military games and built
a huge map of eastern Europe so I
could simulate WWII on the Eastern
front. So although I was never in
the service (ROTC discovered I was
I do have considerable knowledge
of military history and requirements.
Wars are fought by military organizations.
Those organizations must be bureaucratic
or be so inefficient that they are
ineffective against the coordinated
actions of bureaucratic armies. The
American Plains Indians were some
of the best light cavalry in the
world. They were fast, brave, they
could subsist without a supply train,
their tactics were excellent, they
even had better weapons in some cases.
But they had no chance against the
U.S. army even though the army was
In a non-POM economy, what good
is a military? It's no good
at all if there is no organized,
to the society. If all the world
adopted the non-POM economic system,
there would be no need for military. But
in the meantime, until that happy
day, there are nations and organizations
in the world which constitute threats
which can only be countered by military
organizations. Therefore, participating
in and supplying the military of
a non-POM nation would be paid by
the Payers. How much that pay would
be depends on the perceived
threat, of course. If the only threat
is pirates off the coast of Somalia
then the total pay for military might
be relatively little. If the threat
is from nuclear war with Russia and
China, then the pay would be a quite
large proportion of the nation's
It's pretty obvious that soldiers
would be paid. Those guys carrying
rifles into harm's way would earn
every penny they were paid. But remember
that the military is a bureaucracy.
Those secretaries and office boys
would also be paid. The people who
donated land for military bases would
be paid. The producers who gave weapons,
food, clothes, and built buildings
would be paid. In short, the military "budget" would
automatically adjust to the perceived
threat and that threat's requirements.
As soon as the information indicating
a threat was known to producers,
some would decide to take the risk
of providing arms, supplies and so
forth. (Of course the necessities
provided to the military would be
paid for as even soldiers need to
There would be no need for any Congressional
actions or bills to be passed to
increase supplies. The response would
be immediate and would not have to
await debate and such in the Government.
But what about things like aircraft
carriers or jet fighters? They are
very expensive and represent the
contributions of a considerable number
of people. It will take making a
pretty good case to convince a large
number of people to cooperate in
the production of something which
might not ever actually participate
in any kind of war. One could work
for a couple of years on a new plane
or huge ship and never get any pay
at all for it. This is good in a
number of ways. For one thing, it
prevents a lot of waste in the production
of military goods. But for another,
it means that the producers are much
more likely to provide ships that
are useful not only as military vessels
but also as civilian craft. An aircraft
carrier can serve as a hospital,
for example. It can also carry considerable
cargo given its huge internal spaces.
Therefore, there is a good chance
that most military equipment produced
would be designed so that it was
not purely military in functionality.
Sure, a rifle designed for war is
be useful for hunting deer but most
military gear isn't the weapons themselves.
So now we have paid for the soldiers
and other personnel, we have arranged
for supplies, what about command?
Who's in charge here?
There is no reason to believe that
the President would lose his status
as Commander-in-Chief. The Pentagon
would probably remain the predominant
office building for the military.
The chain of command should remain
the same. But that "Declaration
of War" business would likely
be considered irrelevant. Everybody,
from the President on down, would
be paid based on results, on the
consequences of their actions so
the actions of Congress would be
Also, let's assume that a commander
gives an order which his soldiers
think should not be carried out.
They know that the Payers will not
accept "I was just following
orders" as any kind of excuse
if things go badly. They will make
their own judgments. The "Charge
of the Light Brigade" would
never have happened with a non-POM
economy. This same factor will make
it all the more important for commanders
to keep their subordinates fully
informed of the situation and the
plan so that their actions can be
appropriate. Units will share information
with neighboring units. The various
services will share information with
each other because that's just the
way things are done in the non-POM
bureaucracies. It's more efficient.
The centralized computer system also
makes such sharing easier. Coordination
and control will be much easier.
Soldiers will all be volunteers
because the Payers will not pay
to enforce any kind of draft. On
the other hand, the pay for those
enlist in time of war might be huge
depending upon what they accomplish.
The pay will be the free market lure
to meet the nation's demand for soldiers.
AWOL and desertion will be almost
impossible to get away with but since
such escapes from service do harm,
such acts will cost the deserter
The biggest difference in the military
will be the tactics employed. What
is the least expensive way to win
a war? Prevent it. What is the least
expensive way to stop a tyrant from
invading a nearby nation? Take him
out by kidnapping or killing him.
There is no need to damage or destroy
anything else. Knowing that starting
a war will result in your own death
is something to make even the most
cruel dictator pause. Therefore,
there will be considerable attention
paid to seeing trouble coming and
This will be helped by the fact
that all international trade will
be through barter. This means
that all our trading partners will
value that trade and want it to continue.
If they didn't like them, the trades
would never happen in the first place.
This means that the business communities
of all nations would not want war
with us. That is a powerful deterrent
Technology improvements give advantages
to the side which is quickest and
most successful at adopting and integrating
the changes in gear and techniques.
As you may have noticed, it takes
months to get a government
to choose a new weapons system, years
and test it, and still more years
for the military to learn to use
it. The higher-ranking officers were
always brought up in and trained
in the previous war, not the one
to come. There are all sorts of reasons
why people can make more money by
slowing down the process of creating
and deploying new weapons in a POM
economy. There are no such reasons
in a non-POM economy. There are many
reasons to provide defective weapons
to the military (see the sorry history
of fraud and defects in the military
supply chain in the U.S. in WWII.
It's sickening. Thousands of American
service men and women died needlessly
because someone wanted a quick profit
from selling defective goods to the
government.) There are many profit-related
reasons to delay the stopping of
production of the old weapons.
In a non-POM economy, the better
the weapons, the more money you make.
Defective weapons will cost you and
all those who helped produce them
money. Everyone involved becomes
very careful about making sure every
weapon works well. The testing of
new weapons is eagerly shared not
only by the original producers, but
by anyone who is willing to participate.
Finding a major flaw in design before
the weapon fails when most needed
is worth a lot of money.
Training will be innovative and
thorough because poor training results
in needless deaths and failure to
complete the mission. Innovative,
because the trainer is personally
responsible for the results so he
will do what works rather than follow
some "book" by
rote. He will also spread the word
works for him because he can gain
income that way. He will want the
ideas of others because that can
also improve his own pay. You may
know about the "Peter Principle" in
which people are promoted until they
can't do the job and then they stay
at that level or better. That doesn't
work in a non-POM bureaucracy. If
you aren't doing the job people will
no longer pay attention to you and
you are out whether you are sitting
in the big chair or not. This also
applies to the military. A high-ranking
officer will generally have a staff
that has an excellent idea whether
that officer is good at his job or
not. There will also be frequent
training and tests of those officers.
The weakest part of any military
organization is the commander. If
the commander is weak, stupid, indecisive,
foolish, or pig-headed, the unit
will perform badly. Therefore, this
single point of failure will be the
most frequently tested part. This
is the consequence of feedback based
on consequences with no excuses being
acceptable. It doesn't matter what
you were trying to do, it only matters
what the result was.
There was a time when close order
drill was very important to military
organizations. There was a time when
instant, mindless obedience was key
to the success of a military formation
in time of war. But the modern war
is not like that any more. The military
of a non-POM economy nation will
adapt and change to meet changing
conditions and circumstances just
as the economy itself quickly adapts
and changes to meet new conditions
and circumstances. The rewards for
successful adaptation are quick and
go to everyone involved. The lack
of rewards, the consequences of failure,
are similarly felt by everyone involved.
This means that the whole organization
and its suppliers react immediately
to success and failure. The whole
organization learns quickly what
will work. It is another triumph
of the free market.
But what about the interaction of
the military and the civilian? In
some nations the military takes over.
Could that happen in a non-POM economy?
Of course not. Pay to the soldiers
who participated would cease immediately.
People would not give them food except
at the point of a gun. The best they
could do would be to become wandering
bandits. They would almost immediately
start to suffer the consequences
of using POM. (You may remember them.)
Also, think what the reward would
be for stopping such a coup attempt.
Think of how many thousands of people
would have to be in on the attempt.
All those privates and corporals
would have to agree and go along
with it. They would not be subject
to mindless obedience, remember?
Their pay is not controlled by their
officers. They aren't all armed robbers
in disguise. Most would be patriots
loyal to the nation. They would never
allow such a thing to come to pass.
Such an attempt would fail even without
the all-pervasive computer system
that, whether we remain
a POM society or switch to non-POM,
Next: Non-POM and Insurance
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