Monday, June 16, 2008

Successful Meme.

I have noticed on editorial pages and in certain sectors of the intarw3bz that the "mercenary" meme has really taken root. You'll never even hear the word "contractor" anymore.

Get a job with Wackenhut guarding an airport in Qatar? Mercenary.

Doling out chow in a Burger King on a base in Iraq? Mercenary.

Driving a truck for KBR? Mercenary.

Working for EOD Tech clearing unexploded ordnance to make a soccer field safe for kids? Mercenary.

Say "Mercenary" and it sounds like they're all swaggering doorkickers with machineguns, and not support personnel filling gaps to free U.S. troops to do things that only troops can do.

And I guess that was the point of the whole exercise, no?


NotClauswitz said...

Working for the Sierra Club = Mercenary. Gathering signatures for "The Center For Biological Diversity" = Mercenary. Going door to door for PETA = Mercenary. Blowing up a pipe-bomb for ELF = Independent Contractor!?

Alan said...

And what fast food worker DOESN'T secretly dream of being a swaggering door kicker with a machine gun?

How else would the TSA find employees?

GeorgeH said...

Does that make a Mall Cop a mercenary too? FOFL

Drang said...

And they're doing it tax-free, even in a non-combat zone, whereas if you're a troop stationed where the bad guys are NOT authorized to shoot at you--like Korea, say--you pay taxes as of you were stateside.

Anonymous said...

I like that idea - one of the jobs I held working my way through college was Pinkerton's security guard. I like mercenary much better.

Also I am, and have been for many years, a US Navy civilian mariner, employed on Navy support ships - last six years on ammo ships. If that isn't mercenary, then the word has no damn meaning.

I used to tell sensitive souls who carelessly asked what I did that I was the Grim Reaper's pack mule. But mercenary is way better, it has immediate shock value.

Best of all, as a federal employee I should be Obama-proof. He can bust up Blackwater, but I'm sitting pretty on one of the third rails of Democrat sacrosanct groups.

Brian J. said...

I can't wait until they shorten it to just "mercs" because that has a barechested, tough guy sound to it where mercenary is so clinical.

On second thought, they'll probably avoid it, since "mercs" will probably just encourage people to join.

CrankyProf said...

Does that mean if I start moonlighting at the local community college I can start calling myself a mercenary?

"Mercenary" sounds so much cooler than "adjunct."

Anonymous said...

Beatrice stood with her mouth open, staring upward. "My God. They're beautiful." He could almost see her mind star
t to ratchet forward. "But they're not ours. Not Cetagandan either. Who the hell... ?"

Miles bowed. "This is a paid political rescue."


"We're not something wriggling with too many legs that you found in your sleeping bag. The proper tone of voice is Mercenaries!-with a glad cry."


"Go, dammit. Argue later."

George Groot said...

The hippies just don't call contractors "mercenaries". They also call servicemembers "mercenaries".

It has become the catch-all phrase for anyone getting paid to do something they don't want us to do.

Except if we were to get sent to Darfur, then we would be "Peacekeepers" and contractors would be "Aid Workers".

The Left lost the moral high ground years ago, but since they have the best spin doctors they won't concede the loss.

boomvark said...

A semi-estranged relative called me that not too long ago. It gave me the giggles for hours. I'm a civilian contractor: half sonar tech, half computer geek, and as RE as a(n) MF can get. I get paid--albeit less than lavishly--to live in a place that most people pay through the nose just to visit. If "mercenary" is the worst thing anyone can think of to call me, I'll live with that.

I still reserve the right to snicker, though.

Word verification: csgcj. Sounds like one of those places where the real mercenaries wind up working.

Anonymous said...

Considering that Clinton outsourced all those jobs and 'created' the opportunity for 'mercenaries' to co-existing with the US Military, how ironic.

Anonymous said...

They should just be called "camp followers" like in the olden days. Also, the military should pay for prostitutes.

Word verification: heeiiarq.

Anonymous said...

I knew a real Merc once.... once i asked him what he did after he left Vietnam... he told me that he realized that he couldnt adjust to life in the civilized world so he enlisted in the army of Rhodesia... when i got this puzzled look on my face trying to place the country name... he said "you civilians would call that Zimbabwe"... my eyes got as big as saucers and i replied "oh, a merc"... he just smiled and went back to playing pool...

i learned a long time ago, the ones that have really been there, done that... they dont brag about it...

Larry said...

Yep, were all horrible people too.

Correction: we don't make money tax free. We get what is called the Foreign Earned Income Exemption. It exempts a certian amount of income from Federal income tax only. We still pay Social Security and State taxes and every thing else.

Military anywhere not a combat zone pay taxes the same as in the states, but they are completely free from federal tax in combat zones (as designated officialy by congress). So if a guy can manage to swing a re-enlistment with bonus while in Iraq, it's a good idea.

Even here people don't like us. We're officially below military on priority lists, we're resented for our pay (even though most of us are ex- or retired military. In my company 2 out of 18 guys have no military service record.) I have people from other countries lecturing me on how our military is mercenary because they're paid, rather than conscirpted like their home country- being conscripted gives them the moral high ground, apparently. I've heard the same sh...stuff back home a few times.

It is a serious strategic mistake to farm out so much of what our military does to contractors. The Embassy here in Iraq is guarded by TCNs- Third Country Nationals, mostly from Peru. I don't like that one bit. Diplomats that formerly were guarded by Marines when necessary, now have escorts from Blackwater- at least BW has never lost a principal.

It's a mistake to farm out the work I do to a contractor. It should be a military job. But the civilian sector pays much better, has better mobility and choices, and so people with solid technical skills rarely stay in past a first enlistment. To be fair, ione term is often enough for people anyway, one term of 4-6 years can be quite a burden on a young family, particularly.