Vail Daily column: We live in very interesting times
August 9, 2015
The Food Stamp Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has openly stated how proud they are to be distributing the greatest amount of free meals and food stamps ever — 46 million people are recipients of this largesse.
Meanwhile, having just returned from a photo trip to several national parks, I can tell you there are signs posted throughout that read, "Please do not feed the animals." The stated reason for this obvious and common sense policy is the fear the animals will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to care for themselves.
As human beings we cannot abandon the less fortunate and I wholeheartedly agree that a society is judged by how it treats its disadvantaged (47 million of them in this case), but does anyone else see at least a little bit of irony here?
• During the last few months I've been a recipient of numerous tasteless email jokes about Bruce (now Caitlyn) Jenner. Jenner was an incredible athlete who won America's admiration and respect when he won the decathlon in the 1976 Olympics. I couldn't begin to imagine the private hell Jenner has been going through for years and the last thing I'd ever do is ridicule a person wrestling with his own private demons.
However, a little more two years ago, 101st Airborne soldier Dan Luckett (a hero in the truest sense of the word) lost both legs in an IED explosion in Afghanistan. Today, two years after becoming one of America's 1.500 war amputees, the 27-year-old Norcross, Georgia, native is back on duty — and on the front lines with his long-time comrades.
It makes me wonder about our society's values that Jenner not Sgt. Luckett is publicly praised by the president for his "courage," makes the cover of Vanity Fair Magazine and is honored with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award when true heroes such as Sgt. Luckett remain in relative obscurity.
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• Our government uses Tomahawk cruise missiles; our armed forces fly Apache, Blackhawk, Kiowa and Lakota helicopters and our Navy SEALS used the code name "Geronimo" in the attack that killed Osama bin Laden, yet Washington "officially" feels the name Redskins for a professional football team is inappropriate and demeaning.
• As a former military aviator, I try to stay abreast what's going on at the Pentagon regarding aviation technology. During the Vietnam War, our nation's two workhorse fighter/bomber aircraft were the F-4 Phantom and the F-105 Thunderchief, respectively referred to as the "The Smoking Thunder Hog" and the "Lead Sled" with good reason. Both aircraft were prima facie evidence that with enough thrust even a bus could fly.
After the war and seeing the folly of building these uber-expensive and lumbering flying buses, the Pentagon developed a series of smaller, lighter, more agile and less expensive aircraft — enter the A-10, F-18 and F-16. So what has the Pentagon in all its wisdom done since then? They've developed the $1 trillion multi-service, multi-purpose F-35, which in every flight test to date has been "waxed" in aerial combat by the smaller, lighter and cheaper 1970s vintage F-16.
So while the Pentagon sees fit to spend "a thousand billion dollars," on the F-35, our service men and women fail to receive well-deserved pay raises and outreach programs such as the Veteran's Suicide Hotline flounder due to lack of funds.
• There are two topics I never have nor ever will write about — same-sex marriage and abortion. That said; I find it most interesting that while the far right preaches smaller and less intrusive government, it also looks to government to inject its ideology into these both of these matters.
• On a recent edition of "Hardball with Chris Matthews," the host asked Debbie Wasserman Schultz what the difference was between a Democrat and a socialist — leaving the chairman of the Democratic Party at a loss for words. Then the host rephrased, "I used to think there is a big difference. What do you think the difference is between a Democrat like Hillary and a socialist like Bernie Sanders?" Wasserman Schultz again would not answer and instead tried to tell Matthews the difference between a Democrat and a Republican. A frustrated Matthews rephrased a second time, "You're chairman of the Democratic Party so please tell me the difference between you and a socialist," Wasserman-Schultz would not or could not answer the question. Yes, we live in very interesting times.
Quote of the day: "The world runs on individuals pursuing their self interests. The great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus. Einstein didn't construct his theory under order from a bureaucrat. Henry Ford didn't revolutionize the automobile industry that way." — Milton Friedman
Butch Mazzuca, of Edwards, writes regularly for the Vail Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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