"This nation is
peaceful; but fierce when stirred to anger Ö. The commitment of our
fathers is the calling of our time."
"The spirit of this
nation will not be defeated by their twisted and diabolical
As this is being written, on the day before the 10th anniversary of "9/11", we prepare again to relive the horrors of our national tragedy. At noon today, I will hang an American flag down by the road so that all will be reminded.
As a retired American Airlines captain, I had friends on two of the flights that crashed that day. Early in our ordeal, I learned that the captain of AA Flight 11 out of Boston was John Ogonowski. John was 50 years old and had frequently been my flight engineer when I was a copilot and almost as frequently my copilot when I was an early captain. We flew together many times and chatted and joked in Boston Flight Operations when not working the same trip. I attended his memorial on the Monday of the following week.
On Thursday, 9/13/01, I learned that retired AA captain Bud Flagg, was a passenger with his wife on AA Flight 77 out of Washington. He was a classmate in my initial AA training class in 1967. He was 24 days younger than I and was thus the next man below me on the seniority list for 31 years. Bud was also a Rear Admiral in the Naval Reserves and, ironically, his plane crashed into the Pentagon where Bud had worked so many times.
The memories of that day are still painful to all of us. But what did we learn? Are we any safer now than we were then? Yes, in some ways we are safer now. We have a much better understanding of the meaning of Jihad and the ramifications for free nations.
We have learned that a war against a world-wide fanatical movement is not the same as a war against nation states. We have learned that the rules of the Geneva Conventions are virtually irrelevant if they are applied to only one side of the conflict. But we are a humane people and we must always remain so.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has had 10 years to get it right and has failed to do so. Professional pilots see the ever-changing but rarely improving drill we go through with each trip we fly as "theater" with little practical result. "Political correctness" reigns and profiling is eschewed. Elderly grandmothers and children are randomly selected for additional searches. Itís folly.
Be assured, however, that the cockpit will never again be breached. After much debate, theFederal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) program was established. That program allows pilots to arm themselves as the last bastion of security against highjacking. The pilots, mostly ex-military, are deputized federal officers with a "shoot to kill" mission if the cockpit is entered forcibly.
They will not go peaceably.
"American Jobs Act"
"Pass this bill Ė
Iím sorry, Mr. President. Thatís not how it works. The purpose of a republic is for proposals to be made, then debated, and only then voted upon. We do not want to again hear, "We wonít know what is in this bill until we pass it." Been there, done that.
Realistically, if a trillion dollar stimulus did not work in 2009, why would half of that work now? Almost nothing has changed. We all know about the non-existent "shovel ready" jobs out there but now more are being proposed.
The president is proposing temporary tax cuts, the most prominent of which is to cut the "payroll tax". Huh? As much as I support cutting taxes, the last one I would cut is the tax that funds Social Security and Medicare. Those two programs, on which the elderly have become dependent, are already in dire straits. Both of them are scheduled to go broke in short order. Why would we cut the taxes, even temporarily, that fund those programs? Is this another attempt to scare the seniors?
The president does have other proposals but most of little value. Of the reported $477B in spending cuts, over half is in one year cuts which do no good for businesses. Businesses plan over a much longer horizon than just a year. Getting $5000 to hire a new employee for a year does nothing to encourage permanent hiring. What businessmen need is economic stability, not gratuitous handouts.
The president said, "The spending will be covered," but he did not give any specifics. We later learned that specific cuts were not planned. Instead, the president wants to assign the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction the task of adding the $477B to the $1.5T that the committee is supposed to find. They may find it and they may not. Thatís covering the spending? The president also talked about corporate tax reform, but again there are no specifics.
It is quite possible, for instance, that some new jobs will be created in the election year of 2012 as a result of the temporary payroll tax cuts. But those jobs will be borrowed from 2013, when the economy risks expiring as the temporary tax cuts go away. Creating artificial needs and centralized economics always results in unintended consequences.
Remember "Cash for Clunkers"? That too was a temporary program that merely shifted the timing of car purchases. It also had the unintended consequence of removing some perfectly good automobiles from the used car market creating an acute shortage for folks who can only afford a good used car.
A friend of mine has written that, "What we really need is a long-term program that gets government out of the way and lowers spending, tax, and regulatory barriers wherever they exist. But at bottom, the presidentís plan is a big-government plan. Itís not a private-sector plan." If left to its own devices, Americaís free market capitalism will produce growth and jobs. But it wonít happen in a temporary straight jacket.
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Contact: ken.s+sunacom.com (replace "+" with "@")