Friday, January 2, 2009

"Marines Kill Innocent Family"

Butler Shafer - a columnist at - described his disgust while staying in San Francisco during a Navy Blue Angels demonstration in an article written several weeks back. The first time I read it, I felt he was being a bit of a whiner - almost everybody loves to see stunt airplane performances... so what if it irritates Butler Shafer?

But one of the things he discusses is the double-standard between rules on private sector and government air safety. There is a double-standard between private and government performance of stunts, or levelling of houses in residential neighborhoods with jet fighter aircraft during routine training flights.

If this had been a private jet, we would read something like, "Nike Corporate Jet Kills US Immigrant Family" and we would hear of lawsuits being filed against Nike, Leer, and so on. But since this was the Marines, why, the father ought to forgive the pilot for saving his own skin while letting the jet hurtle, unguided, into a residential area. The thought that, perhaps, the Marines are responsible for killing an innocent American family is unpatriotic and unthinkable. There will be no lawsuits against the US Government, the Navy, the Marine Corps, Northrup Grumman or General Electric (who built the engines which apparently failed). We should all quietly mourn with this man who has given the ultimate sacrifice for his country... his wife, two daughters and mother-in-law. We should all be willing to make the same sacrifice if called upon by our country, should we not? After all, it is the US Government who will deliver us during times of economic uncertainty with their stimuli and bailouts.

Etienne de la Boetie belittles the Roman citizens during the height of the Roman empire who did much the same as we do today:

"Tyrants would distribute largess, a bushel of wheat, a gallon of wine, and a sesterce: and then everybody would shamelessly cry, “Long live the King!” The fools did not realize that they were merely recovering a portion of their own property, and that their ruler could not have given them what they were receiving without having first taken it from them. A man might one day be presented with a sesterce and gorge himself at the public feast, lauding Tiberius and Nero for handsome liberality, who on the morrow, would be forced to abandon his property to their avarice, his children to their lust, his very blood to the cruelty of these magnificent emperors, without offering any more resistance than a stone or a tree stump. The mob has always behaved in this way—eagerly open to bribes that cannot be honorably accepted, and dissolutely callous to degradation and insult that cannot be honorably endured." (from The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude)

Maybe if Nike starts sending out "stimulus checks" they can lower the maintenance standards on their aircraft and everybody will forgive them when a Nike jet hits their house, killing the women and children inside. Of course, if Nike could fund this liberality by first taking the money from us in the form of taxes (they could justify taxing us as follows, "Shoes are a necessary good that would not be produced without very expensive factories that no private investor could ever afford to build without the collection of taxes"), they would have hit the gravy train called "government." I wonder what a worldwide Nike government would be like? At least we'd all be well-shod. But I digress.

We all know what is going to happen. Absolutely no one who should be held responsible will be held responsible for this incident. The Department of Defense won't even pause its training regimen of flying thousands of tons of steel and jet fuel at sonic speeds over the bedrooms of our children. After all, Osama bin Laden might sneak in to the country and we have to have these planes on alert to bomb him. An investigation will be opened and some hapless mechanic who has been following the established maintenance guidelines will be faulted by some engineers and lawyers for "not having followed maintenance procedures" and sent to Fort Leavenworth to break rocks for some ungodly lengthy sentence and the Marines and "all branches of the Defense Dept." will adopt new guidelines, oversight and audit procedures to "ensure" that aircraft maintenance achieves the "high standards which the US public has come to expect from its finest" and so on.

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