Saturday, September 21, 2013

PEACE | Sept. 21–Peace Day

  1. In 1981, the United Nations declared September 21 to be International Peace Day. It was first celebrated in 1982. It has become a day on which children are educated about the value of peace.
  2. This would be a good opportunity to get across the message that military actions are a last resort. It is instructive that members of the U.S. Armed Forces were not enthusiastic about a contemplated action against Syria in September 2013.
Wars can seem unavoidable. But they often take much longer than contemplated to bring to a resolution and they often solve nothing.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

VET STORY 2 | Franklin D'Olier, Founded American Legion 9-19-1919

Franklin D'Olier (1877-1953)
in WWI uniform. He was a
Quartermaster in France, was
elected first National Comman-
der of the American Legion
and later became Prudential's
CEO (1938-46). 
Congress chartered the American Legion on September 19, 1919.  The man elected as the first National Commander was an early advocate of a new, more broadly based organization for U.S. veterans, Franklin Woolman D'Olier (April 28, 1877-December 10, 1953). He was in the quartermaster corps of the U.S. Army in France.

American Legion, Founded 1919 as
a more inclusive veterans' group
than the VFW.
The impetus for the initial convening of an organizational planning group came from Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt, eldest son of the President, who was with active-duty personnel in France waiting to be repatriated to the United States.

The first caucus of what would come to be called the American Legion was in Paris. By the time it met, young Col. Roosevelt had returned to the USA. The concept of the American legion is that it would be more inclusive than The Veterans of Foreign Wars, which was limited to those who served overseas and only in wartime. Many veterans - those who served during peace-time, or who did not serve overseas - were denied admission to the VFW.

At the first meeting of the new Legion, D'Olier was elected as its first National Commander.

Franklin's granddaughter, Anne d'Olier Mullen (her mother Winifred Lee d'Olier insisted that the "d" in D'Olier be spelled Frenchwise in lower case) told me that when he was in France, he made efficiency improvements.

Franklin, she said, observed that the Overseas Expeditionary Forces routinely threw away boots and clothing when these items became worn and needed repair. Franklin noted three problems with this practice: (1) It was expensive to buy new items from the United States, (2) new supplies were often delayed, and (3) It was resource-wasteful.

Anne d'Olier Mullen, Franklin's
granddaughter, as a very young
figure skater. Photo courtesy
of the subject.
D'Olier decided to hire local French artisans to repair these items and thereby both created jobs for unemployed French people and saved the United States a lot of money. His granddaughter told me that the French Government gave him a high honor (Legion d'Honneur she thinks ) for his creating of work for French people after World War I, as well as for his quartermaster management skills.

During his service in France, D'Olier noted that many veterans had not yet seen service overseas when the First World War ended, and new recruits would be serving in peacetime. The VFW, as noted above, would not admit them.

D'Olier attended the first Legion convention in Minneapolis on November 10-12, 1919, which was the culmination of a planning process that included caucuses in Paris and St. Louis. D'Olier was elected its first National Commander for the year 1919-20, when he was 42 years old. His granddaughter Anne d'Olier Mullen told me that Hanford MacNider, who later became the fourth National Commander, was the other candidate in the initial election. The two of them - Franklin and Hanford - went out to a bar together while the vote was being taken and remained friends for years after the election. The first four National Commanders were:
D'Olier became a prominent businessman, later heading up the Prudential Life Insurance Company from 1938 to 1946. He was also the great-grandfather of “Superman” actor Christopher Reeve. 
The five D'Olier brothers, who emigrated to the USA from
Dublin. William, the most successful, is on the left. One of
the other four was murdered in Brooklyn. Photo courtesy of
Anne d'Olier Mullen.

The D'Oliers were originally French. But when in 1685 Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes that had (since 1598 under Henry IV) given religious freedom to Protestants, the Huguenots (French Calvinists) emigrated in large numbers. The D'Oliers ended up in Dublin, Ireland and one of them gave the family name to a street that became famous as a center of commerce in Dublin.

Franklin D'Olier's father William D'Olier and four of his brothers left Dublin during the 1845-52 Great Famine, when a potato blight destroyed the staple food of the Irish poor. William married Annie Kay (née Woolman) in Burlington, N.J. and they gave birth to Franklin Wooman D'Olier in 1877. 

Franklin D'Olier worked his way up to being head of the yarn merchants, D'Olier & Company, in Philadelphia. A Quaker and an 1898 graduate of Princeton University, Franklin was described as:
A conservative in almost everything, [he was] a quiet, serene, unruffled man with a serene, unruffled, analytical mind; an admirable compromiser and conciliator; a tolerant and agreeable man, always willing to hear the fellow's other side and a wizard at converting people to his own side so adroitly that they are apt to be unaware of the change. (Marquis James, A History of the American Legion, pp 135–136. Wm Green. 1923.) 
At his acceptance speech he said only: "My word is simply this. We came here to work. Let us keep working and not listen to speeches. I thank you." As commander he served without pay or expenses - he paid all his expenses out of his own funds. The headquarters of the Legion was based in Indianapolis.

Franklin W. D'Olier, Legion's
First National Commander, CEO
of Prudential Insurance, 1938-46.
Photo courtesy of Anne D'Olier 
The three main items on his agenda as national commander were 
· disability benefits for wounded veterans, 
· job training for unemployed veterans, and a 
· scheme of "adjusted compensation" that would have paid veterans what they would have earned if they had not served in the war. 

The pay disparity between the military and civilians was a serious injustice. Reports show the average soldier, sailor, or Marine was paid $1 per day during the war while the average factory worker made $12. However, D'Olier's staunch support for adjusted compensation for the military - whether paid by the taxpayer or the serviceman's prior employer - made many of his business friends hostile to him. As he said:
I don't feel welcome down here any more. [A] lot of people ... used to think I was a pretty decent, respectable business man who knew the rules of the game and played by them. Now they treat me as if I belonged to the I.W.W. [the trade-unionist "Wobblies", despised by the Legion]. (Interview with Marquis James, A History of the American Legion, Wm Green, 1923, p. 141.)
In September 1920, as the Legion was preparing for its convention in Cleveland, Ohio, D'Olier told a reporter, "The American Legion is the best insurance policy a country ever had." D'Olier refused to be reelected as national commander as he believed the power of the position should not be held by one man for more than one one-year term.  

Afterwards, D'Olier returned to his yarn business in Philadelphia and then in 1938 succeeded Edward D. Duffield as President of the Prudential Insurance Company in Newark, NJ. He concluded that many managers of the company were mediocre, but his ability to shake things up was limited by the country's increasing involvement in war preparations. Because of his American Legion background, he was asked to help resist Hitler by helping to organize civil defense for the New York City region. Later he assisted in the Pacific War by heading up the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey for President Truman.

Meanwhile, in 1942 the Prudential converted to a mutual company, a process started in 1915, and D'Olier moved Edmund Whittaker, who had joined the company in 1928, to head up group sales. He pioneered in developing major medical coverage, group credit insurance, and group insurance in multiple employer collective bargaining units. When Whittaker later characterized actuaries as the “engineers of insurance,” he explained his own success. In a speech reported in William Carr’s For Three Cents a Week, Whittaker told Prudential agents to take a long view:
We who are trying to compete with the ideas of nationalized programs are required to be social engineers. So far we have been good salesmen... [but not good] social engineers. If we don’t do better, our system of private enterprise will pass by default to social planning.
(L to R): Franklin d'Olier Jr., Winifred 
Lee d'Olier, & Jackie Bouvier, South-
ampton Riding &Hunting Club.
Franklin D'Olier died in 1953 and is buried in the St. Mary's Episcopal church yard in his home town of Burlington, NJ. Anne d'Olier Mullen tells a story she heard from her mother, Winfred Lee d'Olier, who summered in the Hamptons and is buried with her husband in East Hampton's Most Holy Trinity cemetery:
There was an elderly black man at my father's funeral. He seemed deeply sad so I asked him why he was there. "Well," he said, "I was working in the boiler room, feeding in coal when needed. Your father used to come around and visit all the headquarters office every morning and would talk with the people. And, you know, that even included the boiler room and me. I got to know him. It meant a lot to me. I am here to pay my respects."
Times have changed.
  • Prudential Insurance today has close to 25,000 employees and insures 20 million people in its group coverage alone.
  • The Legion has 2.4 million members attached to 14,000 Legion Posts. 
1. Interviews by JTMarlin with Anne d’Olier Mullen, September  13 and 22, 2013. Photos via iPhone September 22, 2013. 
4. Reeve:

5., by Marquis James.
7. entry on Prudential Insurance. 
8. Daily Princetonian ( ).

The Military Pay Conflict in Washington

Military Pay Dispute in DC
Issue Brief by Alex Hecht

Over the past few months the White House, Pentagon and Senate have squared off against the House and several Voluntary Service Organizations in a disagreement over military pay. The House budget for FY 2014 provides for a 1.8% increase in military pay while the president’s budget calls for a 1.0% increase, and the Pentagon appears to support the President’s budget.


Since the passage of the National Defense Authorization act for FY 2004, annual increases in military pay have been chained to the Employment Cost Index (ECI), the Bureau of Labor Statistics measure of civilian (private and public) compensation. Specifically, monthly military base pay for all branches and ranks is to be raised by a percentage equal to the percent change in the ECI over the preceding fiscal year.

The ECI-peg is intended to ensure parity between growth in military and civilian compensation and to prevent military pay raises from falling below the rise of inflation. However, the President has the authority to break with this practice in his budget proposals during times of “national emergency or serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare.” (Public Law 108–136, Sec. 602)

Obama invoked this authority in a letter to congress defending the 1% military pay increase called for in his FY 2014 budget. The President’s 1% pay raise is 0.8 percentage points lower than the increase in the ECI over FY 2013, and one percentage point below the current rate of inflation.[1] In his letter to Congress, Obama cited budget constraints and the need for fiscal sustainability in justification of the 1% pay raise (Letter from The President, August 30).

The Defense spending bill introduced in the Senate is in line with Obama’s request. However, the House has passed a Defense spending bill that sticks to the ECI-peg and calls for a 1.8% increase in military pay.

On July 22, two days before the spending bill passed the House floor, OMB published a statement recommending that the Obama veto the House bill, citing (among other objections) the 1.8% pay raise. OMB claims that the pay increase in the House bill would need to be offset in future years by “deeper reductions to troop levels, readiness and modernization accounts,” presumably compromising the national defense. OMB also points to the 4.2 percent increase in Basic Allowance for Housing and 3.4 percent increase in Basic Allowance for Subsistence called for in the President’s budget, suggesting that the reduced pay raise is sufficiently offset by increases in these forms of military compensation. (OMB Statement of Administration Policy, p. 2)

Crucially, the Pentagon is backing Obama on this issue, and may have initially pushed Obama to limit pay raises. OMB claims that the 1.0% increase is “consistent with the views of the uniformed military leadership,” and according to the Military Times, DOD Comptroller Robert Hale said at a Reserve Forces Policy Board meeting last week (Sep. 5) that “I think we will go after military compensation aggressively” over the next few years.

MOAA has come out against the 1% pay raise. Col. Mike Hayden, USAF (Ret), MOAA Director of Government Relations, has two main arguments against the President’s budget:
1.      It sends us down a slippery slope, and “[h]istory has shown that once Congress starts accepting proposals to cap military pay below private-sector growth, pay caps continue until they have weakened retention and readiness.”
2.      Although it sounds low, a 0.8% difference in pay raise in a single year will have a big impact on career service-members’ lifetime earnings. Hayden estimates that, including retired pay, a Major with 10 years of service would lose $28,000 in lifetime earnings if the Obama proposal were implemented.

A few points:
·         Given the constraints on Defense spending imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act, OMB is correct to say that a higher military pay raise will have to be balanced by reductions elsewhere in the Defense budget over the next several years.

·         When comparing with the ECI, it would make more sense to look at the increase in total military compensation, not just basic pay, since basic pay represents less than a third of total compensation (according to the 11th Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation (QRMC), p. 17).

·         More importantly, pegging growth in military pay to growth in the ECI does not guarantee real parity between military and civilian pay. The 11th QRMC actually makes detailed comparisons between earnings of service members and civilians with similar levels of educational attainment, and finds that “[a]verage RMC [cash allowances plus tax advantages resulting from exemption from income tax] was $50,747, which was about $21,800 more than the median earnings for civilians from the combined comparison groups, or about the 90th percentile of equivalent civilian wages” (p. 26). In other words, DOD’s main internal compensation review reports that service members are paid much more than their civilian counterparts.

·         On the other hand, there are two reasons why we might not be concerned with parity between military and civilian wages: (1) service-members should be paid more because of the sacrifices they are making for the sake of the country; and (2) civilian earnings may be too low by some objective standard, and so we ought to aim higher in the public sector where we can control wages democratically.

      Alex Hecht is a graduate of Stanford University. He is a staff analyst with a New York City-based foundation serving veterans and previously served as a staff analyst with the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice in Newark, NJ.

[1] The CPI increased by 2.0% from July 2012 to July 2013, according to the BLS.

US ARMY | Sept. 17–The Deadliest Day

Antietam Battlefield - Worst Day's Casualties in U.S. Military History.
Historical Note by John Tepper Marlin

Today in 1862, after 12 hours of combat, with 22,717 dead, wounded, and missing on both sides combined, the Battle of Antietam ended the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia's first invasion into the North.

The Army of the Potomac, under the command of George McClellan, mounted a series of powerful assaults against Robert E. Lee’s forces near Sharpsburg, Maryland, that day.

The morning assault and strong Confederate counterattacks swept back and forth through Miller’s Cornfield and the West Woods. Later, towards the center of the battlefield, Union assaults against the Sunken Road pierced the Confederate center after a terrible struggle.

Late in the day, the third and final major assault by the Union army pushed over a bullet-strewn stone bridge at Antietam Creek. Just as the Federal forces began to collapse the Confederate right, the arrival of A.P. Hill’s division from Harpers Ferry helped to drive the Army of the Potomac back once more. The day was essentially a standoff, a draw.

The fact that the Confederate army retreated first, however, provided an outcome with the aura of “victory” that President Lincoln needed before issuing the Emancipation Proclamation. It was the first major battle in the American Civil War to take place on Union soil. It still remains the bloodiest single-day battle in American history.

September 17 – Birthday of the U.S. Constitution

The Constitution of the United States, signed today, 1787.
The Warrior Family Foundation takes note of Constitution Day, commemorating the birthday in 1787 of the U.S. Constitution, which was born largely out of military disarray and created the written document that has been admired throughout the world since then.

It creates the system whereby the President and Commander-in-Chief of U.S. military forces is elected along with a House and Senate. The Commander-in-Chief's budget must be initiated by the House and senior appointments and treaties must be approved by the Senate.

In 1787 The war with Britain had officially ended four years before, in 1783. But the new American government was not functioning. The United States was vulnerable to another British invasion. Yes, the Second Continental Congress had created the Articles of Confederation to outline the rights of the federal government.

But Americans were reluctant to get rid of a tyrant in London only to succumb to a new one in America. As a result:
- Not one state was paying all of its federal taxes.
- The Federal Government had no way to force collection.
- Pirates were attacking American ships with impunity.
- Troops were deserting and states felt defenseless.

Congress technically had the authority to wage war, regulate currency, and conduct foreign policy, but it had no way to force the states to supply money or troops. So James Madison and other leaders convened the Constitutional Convention to get the states to create a unified central government. In May 1787, the 55 delegates spent four months in a hot summer in Philadelphia, fighting off bloodthirsty bugs. The average age of the delegates was just 42, but overall they were highly educated. The delegates included:
• Benjamin Franklin, who at 81 had to be carried around Philadelphia in a sedan chair because he could no longer walk.
• Alexander Hamilton, who was lax in attendance but afterward emerged as the principal author of the Federalist Papers, famous essays arguing why the Constitution should be ratified.
• James Madison, who showed up every single day, took detailed notes on all the proceedings, and argued tirelessly for a strong central government. Madison was small, 5'6" and 120 pounds, but he became known as the best informed person at the convention and became known as "the Father of the Constitution."
• Governor Morris, a charming man with a peg leg, who did more than flirt with other mens' wives, gave 173 speeches and wrote the Constitution's Preamble.
• George Washington, who was immediately elected president of the Convention and rarely spoke throughout the convention.

The resulting document was not just a revision of the Articles of Confederation. It became a new document, a Constitution of the United States. The delegates eventually came to an agreement on the essential purposes of government, a system of checks and balances, the division of powers between federal and state governments, rules for interstate trade, war-making powers and representation according to population.

(John Tepper Marlin, Ph.D., is Chief Economist of the Warrior Family Foundation. His summary of the Convention is abbreviated and adapted from Garrison Keillor's comments on the day in The Writer's Almanac.)