Military Discounts and a Free Society

You see it on the signs, menus, websites, and advertisements of a wide variety of businesses: Military discount. All manner of businesses are now offering discounts of various percentages to military personnel. Some restaurants even give free meals on Veterans Day to patrons who show up in a military uniform or present their military ID.

This is a great thing, but it has nothing to do with the military.

I have ridiculed on a regular basis the various military discount schemes that are all-to-prevalent throughout the United States today. But I have done so from the standpoint of my opposition to the curse of military exceptionalism that pervades American society. However, from the perspective of private property, individual liberty, a free market, and a free society—things that I hold dear—the ability of a business to offer a discount to a select group is an example of one of the last vestiges of freedom that we have left in this increasingly totalitarian country. War, Empire, and the M... Laurence M. Vance Best Price: $899.99 Buy New $9.95 (as of 06:40 EDT - Details)

Restaurants offer senior-citizen discounts. Hotels offer discounts to members of AARP. Bars have ladies’ nights. Companies have employee discounts. Warehouse clubs offer discounts to members. Theme parks offer discounts to children. Companies offer discounts to customers who pay in cash, prepay, or pay within a specified period of time. Family members give relatives discounts on personal items they wish to sell. Stores extend discounts to customers with coupons. Businesses offer discounts for buying in bulk. And of course, there are the ubiquitous military discounts offered by just about every place of business.

Not everyone likes discounts, and especially when they concern religion.

There are atheists who have filed discrimination complaints against restaurants that offered discounts on Sunday meals to those who presented a church bulletin. I remember in the early 1990s when I lived in Pensacola, Florida, that there was a huge outcry when a gas station began offering a 10 percent discount on car repairs to Christians.

Military discounts and senior-citizen discounts and  are what you call politically-correct discounts. Giving discounts to someone based on his religion or race is taboo in “the land of the free” because it is deemed War, Christianity, and... Laurence M. Vance Best Price: $5.95 Buy New $9.95 (as of 06:40 EDT - Details) discriminatory—as if discriminating against civilians and the young in favor of military personnel and the aged is somehow not discriminatory.

In a free society, any business would be perfectly free to offer discounts on any product or service, at any time, and in any amount, to any individual or group, and on any basis—including race, color, religion, religious denomination, political ideology, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, pregnancy status, martial status, immigration status, disability, birthplace, ancestry, culture, appearance, or ethnicity.

If a Jewish Democrat business owner wants to offer discounts only to Jewish Democrats, then so be it. If a Christian Republican business owner wants to offer discounts only to Christian Republicans, then so be it. If a Protestant business owner wants to offer discounts only to his fellow Protestants, then so be it.  If a Catholic business owner wants to offer discounts only to his fellow Catholics, then so be it. If a white business owner wants to offer discounts only to whites, then so be it. If a black business owner wants to offer discounts only to blacks, then so be it. If a transgendered atheist business owner wants to offer discounts only to LGBT individuals who are atheists, then so be it. If a business owner wants to offer discounts only to individuals who are not in the military, then so be it. The War on Drugs Is a ... Laurence M. Vance Best Price: $5.96 Buy New $5.95 (as of 06:40 EDT - Details)

When people who think that offering discounts to veterans and military personnel is a good thing have a fit when someone even suggests that businesses should be able to offer discounts based on race or religion, this shows not only that they have a warped view of the military, but also that they have no concept of what a free society really is.

Businesses that offer military discounts may not be doing so because they actually admire the military; they may offer them for purely economic reasons—to sucker people who have a soft heart for the military into giving them their business. And businesses that offer military discounts may not be doing so because they actually believe in a free society; they may offer them while at the same time opposing the right of businesses to offer discounts based on other things.

But the ability of businesses to offer discounts to select groups is essential to any free society. As much as I oppose military exceptionalism, military recruiting practices, military appreciation days in churches, thanking the troops for their service, sporting events being turned into military worship services, national holidays being turned into military appreciation days, and almost everything the military does, I can still celebrate the existence of military discounts—and any other discount that businesses are allowed to offer in the tightly-controlled, heavily-regulated, mixed-market economy that passes for the free market in the United States.