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General Mattis-“It’s Fun to Shoot People”

A buddy of mine recently sent me a link a to story regarding Marine General James Mattis who, during a speaking engagement back in 2005, claimed it was fun to shoot people and fun being shot at (and missed). I had never seen the story and my buddy was inquiring as to whether or not I had ever met this “bad ass” Marine during my time in the Corps. The answer was no. I served from 1967-1970 and General Mattis joined the Corps in 1972.

I don’t recall ever enjoying being shot at, watching my colleagues die or seeing them maimed for life. Though I felt no guilt about the killing of NVA soldiers, their death was not something to be celebrated.

The General’s comments made it seem as if combat is like a big bar brawl, calling himself a “brawler”. To me this sounded like the boast of a man who had never seen combat up close and personal. So I went to Wikipedia to review his career.

He joined the Corps too late to see combat in Vietnam and by the time of the Gulf War he was already a Senior Officer. And, as anyone who has ever served in the Marine Corps will tell you, senior officers rarely get shot at or actually kill anyone. It’s the field officers, (Captains and Lieutenants) and the enlisted men (from the Gunnery Sergeant on down) who do the actual fighting.

I will always be proud of my service as a Marine and the views of men like James Mattis are not representative of the brave Marines I served with in Vietnam. I wonder what his views would be if he had actually experienced lethal combat.

But thinking about his time of service, it occurred to me that those Marines who had served in Vietnam (and survived) were retired by now. It is doubtful that today’s senior officers in the Marine Corps, just by historical circumstance, have ever seen combat “up close and personal”.

This observation is in no way intended to question their leadership ability, intelligence or courage. I would like to believe, that unlike General Mattis, they understand that combat is not a game (and it is certainly not fun.) Instead it is a duty that requires sacrifice and courage in the service of our country.

The Marines with whom I served had more courage than most people could ever imagine and many of them made the ultimate sacrifice. In my opinion, General Mattis demonstrated nothing but disrespect for them, their wives, mothers and children, who had to greet a Marine at the door delivering the news about their sacrifice.

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The Growing Wealth Gap

Income inequality and the gap between rich and poor are going to be “hot topics” as we move toward the mid-term elections in November and the discussion will become even more heated in 2016 when we elect our next president.  I believe these are serious issues and we need to find solutions.  Unfortunately, most of the proposed solutions we hear are geared to advance political careers with little thought given to the overall impact on our economy.

But before I speak about solutions I would like to point out what has caused a huge increase in the wealth gap over the past 5 years.  The rich, at their end of the spectrum, have investment capital.  The poor, at the other end, have very little if any investment capital.  With the Stock Market (as measured by the S&P 500) up over 125% during this period, it is obvious why the wealth gap grew dramatically.  However, during the prior 2 years the Market lost 50% of its value, and of course this narrowed the wealth gap.  (A market crash that narrows the wealth gap is not a solution to the problem.)

Capitalism will always favor those who have capital to invest, and unless we come up with a solution that encourages or even demands participation in the capitalist system, the wealth gap will only continue to grow.  I also believe that far too many politicians who claim to be advocates for the poor have an ulterior motive.  They benefit from having a constituency that is dependent on the government for their subsistence and that will always vote to keep them in office.

So how do we go about dramatically increasing participation in the capitalist system, with all the inherent benefits, currently enjoyed by those who have the means to participate?

Believe it or not, government can provide the answer.  Here’s how.  Every employer and employee (roughly 93% of the working age population) would be required to contribute to an investment account run by the government.  This capital would be invested in broadly based, low or no cost, passive index type market portfolios.  Employees would not have control over the investment decisions eliminating all the “emotional” mistakes that have severely damaged many retirement plans.

Wall Street would be against such a program because it would take away their ability to earn fees on what would be a very large pool of capital.  (But perhaps those on Wall Street, who believe they can “beat the market,” would be allowed to participate if they guaranteed that any underperformance would be made up out of their own capital.)   Something tells me there would be few, if any, money managers who would accept such a condition.

The amounts contributed, the allocation to equities relative to participant age etc. etc., would have to be determined but I believe that would not be very difficult.  Basically it would be a program that “enfranchises” most workers, allowing them to participate and benefit from our capitalist system.

A simple idea but it has to be a better way to go than simply redistributing income and/or wealth.

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August (No Hip, No Hop, No Commentaries)

Been procrastinating for a year but have finally accepted the fact that I need a new hip. With a big increase in my vertical leap promised, I will have the surgery next week.  Besides  I wasn’t getting any sympathy from my wife as I hobbled around the Mall.

In an attempt to keep your interest, here is a list of my favorite posts you may have missed:

  1. “A Little JoePa In All Of Us” – Nov. 11, 2011
  2. “Time To Be Thankful” – Nov. 29, 2011
  3. “No Forecast Allowed” – Nov. 1 ,2011
  4. “NCAA—It’s All About The Money” – Oct. 11, 2011
  5. “Why Ron Paul Can’t Win” – Mar 1, 2012

Any feedback would be helpful for the future.  My email address is wheelerwrites@yahoo.com.

I will get started again in September and will be writing about:

1.  The need to regain our democracy, which sadly has evolved into an oligarchy.  (Wouldn’t it be great if every member of Congress was an Independent not beholden to party leaders and contributors?)  I am seriously thinking about running for Congress one of these days.

2.  The need to bring back the military draft to insure that a civilian perspective is not lost when making decisions regarding the role of our military.  The intent in banning the draft was reasonable.  Why force anyone to serve, when there are sufficient numbers of volunteers?  But “The Law of Unintended Consequences,” is turning our military into largely a force of mercenaries.  Military service should be a patriotic calling, not simply the best job available in a recession.

When we all start paying attention to what is happening, things will change for the better.  Americans love their freedom.

 

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Time Out For The Playoffs

Now that Coach Spo and Pat Riley no longer need my input I can turn my attention back to “WHEELERWRITES.COM.”  Hard to believe but they never called.  I wanted to be ready just in case.  All kidding aside, for Heat fans it could not have been better coming from behind in the last three series.  I think the high point was game 6 in Boston.  I was there and will always remember LeBron totally dominating the Celtics that first half.  It was a subdued joy sitting amongst a multitude of green leprechauns.

And now we count the days until November when the new season begins.  With all the roster changes it will be a whole new game.  Chemistry and attitude will be the big determinants of success.

In fact, the importance of attitude for all of us will be the subject of my post tomorrow.  One last time—“GO HEAT!”

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