Defense, Or Offense

This is the busiest of times. The best weather and, this year most gratifying, with a bountiful harvest rewarding us for our efforts to help Mother Nature perpetuate the species. For some reason I love working on the combine. It is a 1978 John Deere with 5000 hours under its belt, a masterpiece of chains and belts and sheet metal. It is still amazing how this Rube Goldberg-like pile of parts can take a corn field and put all those grains in a wagon, leaving the rest of the plant for protection of soil life.
I had to take time out from fall work to pen this other side of the story. I remember having no idea I would be a farmer (even though I was probably the only high school kid in Newport Beach with a garden). But it just seemed silly to me that I was vulnerable to be drafted to go kill Vietnamese farmers. Heck, I did work for a landscaping company which was a piece of cake compared to sticking millions of rice seedlings in mud all day. I had empathy for those people under the bombers. No quarrel.
There is never a bad time to question authority.

Defense, Or Offense

The Russian threat is real if the Muslims don’t get here first. Sharia law was recently touted as imminent. But somehow has it been discovered that U.S. law, if enforced, should prevent imposition of Sharia? Now we watch the skies for a “Red Dawn” style invasion of Russian paratroopers.

In Ukraine, the duly elected Viktor Yanukovych was ousted by a Western supported coup and we are to believe Putin is an aggressor when he helps Ukrainians loyal to their elected leader. And Crimean citizens voted overwhelmingly to secede and align with Russia and that’s called a Russian invasion. Now the Russians are in Syria, another disaster of no value to Americans. It’s the domino theory reborn. We are so afraid I expect there will soon be lines outside IRS offices of patriots seeking to donate to our diminished military so they can defend us from the hoards of uh, invaders.

With all these dire headlines maybe The Alternative needs to look at alternatives. I think few Americans would turn down a couple extra bucks in tax savings if they are being squandered for no good purpose. But it seems like a pundit or politician who questions military spending is as rare as hen’s teeth nowadays.

Leftists, who in the past we could count on as peaceniks, are now on the death and destruction bandwagon as well. That always made perfect sense to me, as war is the epitome of big government and leftists are fond of government directing our every move and dollar so as to make things fair. They might as well direct the lives and cash of foreigners too, eh?

It’s a mandate, a groundswell of support for the forces of good over evil, this defense spending thing. Life is a comic book: POW! BAM! There’s a lot of action but nothing seems to change. A large portion of our world is like a leaky bucket and there’s plenty of money to be made on those leaks.

All this ‘here’s a threat, there’s a threat’ stuff got me to wondering, how do we compare to other nations?

In 2009 (the most recent time for comparative numbers) the United States spent $2,140 per person on defense compared to Russia’s $430. Russia has military bases in ten countries, the United States has military bases in 74.

China (the next highest spender to the U.S.) spends $143 billion on defense. The U.S., $711 billion.

The U.S. has 40,000 troops in Germany on 175 bases. The numbers are similar for Japan and Korea. These are countries American workers compete with, and lose to, in many industries. It seems like they should be capable of furnishing their own defense.

What is this Russian threat? Does anyone seriously think an American on our soil will be harmed by a Russian? How about a Syrian? What is the meaning of the word, defense? A private sector drained to support a bloated military looks a lot like the Soviet Union before Ronald Reagan supposedly scared them into bankruptcy.

Our military has a serious efficiency deficit.

Physical Therapy rip-off

Dawnie went to the doctor about her sore shoulder. She was referred to an orthopedic surgeon. He said try physical therapy. So she did. Many times she asked several different people how much it cost. Never got a straight answer. Her therapist was shocked to discover we had $5000 deductible. We just got a bill for $2000. Obviously the charge was high because the therapist thought it was covered by insurance; “nobody” was paying.

Is it such a mystery why medical care is so expensive? Too much system, not enough supply and demand.

If we had known we would be charged the same as “nobody,” we would have taken notes and done it ourselves. Thieves are way too comfortable in this world.

Illustration of the division of labor from the Wall Street Journal

Notable & Quotable: The $1,500 Sandwich

Sept. 27, 2015 4:28 p.m. ET

From an online post by Cato Institute researcher and editor Chelsea German, Sept. 25:

What would life be like without exchange or trade? Recently, a man decided to make a sandwich from scratch. He grew the vegetables, gathered salt from seawater, milked a cow, turned the milk into cheese, pickled a cucumber in a jar, ground his own flour from wheat to make the bread, collected his own honey, and personally killed a chicken for its meat. This month, he published the results of his endeavor in an enlightening video: making a sandwich entirely by himself cost him 6 months of his life and set him back $1,500. . . .

The inefficiency of making even something as humble as a sandwich by oneself, without the benefits of market exchange, is simply mind-boggling. There was a time when everyone grew their own food and made their own clothes. It was a time of unimaginable poverty and labor without rest.

Comment on Dan Neil column in the WSJ accusing VW of losing its “moral compass”

EPA, a branch of the government that lied about WMDs, attacked a country that didn’t threaten us or was responsible for any attack on us, killing possibly 500,000 souls, regulates us into poverty in so many ways, funds child murdering Planned Parenthood, confiscates our property without convictions, reads our private correspondence, unseats unsavory dictators, unleashing hordes of desperate refugees, enables radical religious zealots to overwhelm once peaceful landscapes, supports governments that do worse and then call them valued allies… intends to fine a car company because they allegedly cheat on a test of tiny amounts of pollution while saving the world huge volumes of wasted fuel.

Who’s lost their moral compass, Dan (author of entertaining but shallow car reviews)?