My fellow Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines always talk about how shit rolls downhill.  It’s a fitting metaphor.

This refers, of course, to the administrative and task-saturated nightmare that gets created in any bureaucracy, let alone military…Somehow, somewhere, someone in the organization derives a pool of needless activity from a series of policies or regulations.  They task out the people next-to-the-top to find a way to “get the job done.”  Nobody wants to do the job because they 1) don’t know how, 2) don’t think they should, 3) don’t want to, or 4) don’t believe it needs to be done in the first place (and usually they’re right with #4).

Then, of course, there’s the example of a commander requiring folks to be in formation for morning PT by 0600, properly stretched. The Captains under him tell the Lieutenants they want everyone there no later than 0550.  The Lieutenants tell the First Sergeants they want everyone formed up by 0540…and so on, until everyone’s showing up to morning PT at 0445 unnecessarily.

There’s nothing wrong with punctuality, but it’s clear to say this is a ridiculous waste of time…and it happens far too often.

While teaching German at the Air Force Academy I got to see a lot of how the sausage is made by a faculty preparing to teach cadets.  Every once in a while, someone would get “the shaft” and have to teach three sections of the 100-level of a certain language.  The unwritten rule was that this job–which required far more work than anyone else with a regular schedule–would be done to the brand-new younger officers.

Wait, wait–don’t they get paid, like, half of what the senior-ranking officers get? I mean, the difference between Captain’s pay and Colonel’s pay is pretty significant, right?

“Well, yes. That’s true. But Captains should have to work harder for less pay.  They don’t have the seniority.  They haven’t ‘earned’ the easier schedule with fewer hours.”

Of course that’s nonsense. If anyone should have to work more hours to literally do the same job, it’s those who get paid more. This idea that a high-ranking member should have to work less at the same job should only hold true if that high-ranking member is getting paid less.

This confounded idea of “seniority” is exactly why shit rolls downhill.


Sharing is Caring!