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Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts, United States

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Ain't Gonna Study War No More

Though the Pentagon derailed
My ambition to teach military history,
I kept up with the field for many years,
Finding parallels in business planning.

I did actually teach one section
Of "Military History" in the summer.
It was well-received by students,
But not by the History Department.

They said I lacked academic credentials,
But they really didn't like the subject.
I didn't mind because I was busy that fall
Introducing a new major in Entrepreneurship.

After retiring, I gave up military history,
Answering questions from friends
With words from that great spiritual:
"Ain't Gonna Study War No More!"

Still, current events do capture my attention
When they concern the decisions that
Governments make as to whether they will
Use military force in certain situations.

The French intervention in Mali is most recent.
M. Hollande, le president, aims for a quick war.
History is against that, given the vast area
In which the rebels operate, with unlimited resources.

And as in Libya and Syria, the question arises
If it is a just or unjust war, which is the subject
Of a notable 1977 book by Michael Walzer
That I used in that summer course long ago.

The February 2013 issue of First Things
Takes up that argument in a lengthy series
Of articles concerning U.S. obligations to
"Afghanistan, Justice, and War."

Thursday, January 10, 2013

How to Destroy the Middle Class

Let's define the middle class
As people who have steady jobs,
Pay their bills on time, and
Don't depend on government assistance.

That excludes the favored class:
Retirees who own their homes,
Get social security and medicare, and
Have adequate income for living.

First, depreciate the value of money
By an inflation rate currently over two percent,
While wage and salary income remain flat,
Or decline absolutely for new employees.

Next, manipulate the health care system
So that health insurance premiums
Go through the roof, in order to cover
Any calamity which may occur.

Pay for exploding government
By instituting a value-added tax,
Thus hitting the purchase of autos
Or any assets needed for work or living.

Perhaps most insidious, increase the
Taxes paid directly by businesses
Who thereupon pass the cost
In higher prices to consumers.

Add to the regulations that
Well-meaning bureaucrats impose
Upon the players in the private sector,
Thus increasing their administrative costs.

(Full disclosure from the old professor:
My master's thesis was on product costing.
It is an art that belongs to industrial engineers,
Not to accountants, who do it badly.)

Finally, discourage and derogate
Growth and innovation, and those
Who create the opportunities for
Economic advancement by individuals.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Corps Has

Let us be mindful that
No one cares what
Ancient alumni think
About the state of their alma mater.

The wishes of major donors
To hallowed institutions
Are often ignored by
The management of same.

West Point, being a
Taxpayer-supported college
Is even more immune
To protests from the ranks.

Someone once said that
West Point does change,
Just later and more slowly
Than the exogenous culture.

Change brought women cadets
Who edge ever closer to harm's way.
Change expanded the size of the Corps
To achieve parity with the other academies.

The American culture promotes self-esteem
For young people in all their activities.
West Point now makes all first classmen
Cadet lieutenants, carrying sabers.

Summer training now emphasizes
Contact with real soldiers
Through practice command situations
At Army posts across the U.S.A.

The curriculum has exploded,
Creating a plethora of majors.
One can even be graduated
As an English major!

Whether these changes add up
To a better experience,
Hence, better prepared officers
Is a question yet to be answered.

If I were admitted today,
Which may be somewhat doubtful,
I might have found my niche in the Army
And served my country at length.