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The Mutilated Economy – NYTimes.com.

Are we approaching some fiscal precipice? Some might argue that there is always a precipice near. The more pressing question is what are we to do about it? In a nod to Jonathan Swift, what follows is a modest proposal for the present circumstances.

With the economy still reeling from recession, a government that cannot seem to agree on anything–and seemingly in an endless loop of potentially shutting down–many continue to worry about how they can fund their own lives. What is the solution to this problem? Many sights are set on the government itself. A seemingly leaderless behemoth at the root of the problem.

Perhaps our government should simply cease to exist. In fact, anything that seeks to divorce us from our hard-earned and singly deserved money should also be scrapped. Surely our own good will can fill the vacuum that would exist. If we had all of our resources at our disposal, we no doubt would go out of our way to meet the public good. Many argue that the government gets in the way of this process. Money would trickle down from on high, poverty would be a distant memory, and we would find paradise where we once found gloom.

On the other hand, perhaps that view of the future is from rose colored glasses. Rather, one could sit back and watch this Potemkin Village be pillaged. The whole concept of value would be thrown on its head. Once coveted wealth that equated to power would mean nothing. All the money in the world would not help those determined to defend their way of life from the much larger number of those fighting for life itself.

As problematic as it might be, the government is the embodiment of a social compact. It represents the mechanism for us to resolve our differences. Whether we want to admit it, there must be some incentive for us to cast our lot for the common good. The government provides the impetus for such an exchange.

‘The Generals’ gets two thumbs down | The Best Defense.

I would agree with Gentile’s assessment. Ricks’ book does not add to the body of knowledge concerning the officer profession and leadership in the U.S. Army. Ricks’ argument that Marshall’s style of management is precisely what the Army now needs makes many assumptions. Furthermore, forcing such a paradigm into today’s circumstances does not provide skeptical or critical readers the clear conclusions that Ricks seeks, i.e. holding generals accountable through relief would have impacted the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan differently. Whether or not reliefs in today’s wars would have made a difference is not knowable. Gentile was correct in asserting that this study could have been beneficial if its focus remained during the World War II era. History is undoubtedly useful to present day military leaders, but it does not necessarily provide the answers for every time and place as Ricks’ work assumes.

Focusing so much on a particular general’s performance fails to account for all of the other variables that impact military operations. There is no doubt that generals carry a majority of the burden for executing military operations, but to focus solely on that aspect is shortsighted. Additionally, it becomes very easy to conclude that failure resulted from poor leadership when that may not be the case.

As far as the writing is concerned, the book is plodding and fairly repetitive. References to Marshall’s ghost, while entertaining, do more to drain the credibility out of this work than add to it. Rather than difficult to put down, frequently I had a hard time picking this book back up.

One glaring example of an inconsistency in the book concerns the importance of relationships between civilian leadership and the generals conducting operations. Not long after establishing this importance, Ricks then lauds the performance of one general that admittedly took a large gamble operationally without informing or gaining prior approval from the president, which certainly conflicts with his previous statements on the importance of civil-military relations. Ricks highlights the success of this gamble, but does not comment on the disparity with his previous assertion.

Ricks’ work falls short of providing a critical analysis of the performance of U.S. Army generals and further fails to provide any useful recommendations. I agree with Gentile, this book gets two thumbs down. It is interesting, but it is not critical and does not hold up against scrutiny.

I often wonder what happens to my garbage. To some this may seem a silly thing to ponder–but with a steadily growing consumer population and a finite amount of physical space on the planet for that growing population–it is a vital question. The label of consumer population is important because the vast majority of what we consume produces an undeniable amount of refuse that must take up space somewhere on this planet. As more of the population becomes accustomed to the fancy packaging that has mystified most of the consuming population, the need for greater space will be necessary.

I’m not sure if the consequences of what I throw away today will impact my life, but I do wonder what the impact will be to my children, their children, and all of the future generations for that matter. This is one of many things that can cause my mind to continue working long after my head hits the pillow. My intention in writing this is not to create some environmental rant. The environment is part of the issue, but the larger issue is our inability to probe deeply beyond our immediate interests. To do so would be to love others as much as we love ourselves. While these words generally describe the way we all likely assume we live–myself included–upon deeper reflection I would argue that many of us fall far short of that mark.

For the past four days I have been in Africa. My wife and I traveled here to pursue an adoption. It has been an incredible journey–life changing to be more precise. There is an image from this trip that will not leave me. We were driving through Addis Ababa en route to one of our stops during our visit. It was mid-morning and partly cloudy. The temperature was nice. The roads were crowded with people and vehicles. The city was bustling. Waiting at a traffic circle a young child appeared out of the corner of my eye from the left side of the van. The child crossed in front of the van and then continued on the sidewalk to the right of the van. I did not see the child’s face and have no idea what gender the child was. The clothes the child was wearing were in tatters and very dirty. The child had no shoes. As quickly as the child appeared, it was gone again in the crowd. I cannot know, but I feel strongly that this child was without a home. No face and no gender, this child became the picture to me of what the future of an orphan will likely be if they are not adopted. At that moment ethnicity, age, gender, and the multitude of other factors that we use to compartmentalize a process, namely adoption, disappeared. None of these things need matter, if we can truly seek to love one another as we would love ourselves.

In all things, I strive not to allow temporal notions to subjugate moral reasoning and purpose.

I’m trying to keep an open mind and see both sides, but was this necessary? I feel as though the freedoms I cherish and fight for were completely disregarded. Seeing fellow Americans treated this way is both disturbing and discouraging.

UCDavis Bicycle Barricade

more to come

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SniperHill.

Notice the statement under the proudly proclaimed guaranteed 365 24/7 dedicated bandwith. This is why one should always read the small print. Although, I’m still struggling to figure out how they thought they could put those two statements next to one another?

All Points: Jacob and Esau | The American Scholar.

Does attending one of these institutions make an individual elite, or are the individuals that attend these institutions what make the institutions elite? I would argue that what makes something elite is a matter of perspective. Furthermore, the assumption that somehow being elite automatically equates to greatness is shortsighted. People have the potential to be great, surrendering our critical thinking to such assertions on elitism detracts from the potential that exists in all of us.

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