Saturday, January 10, 2009

Patriotism For Sale

The road to patriotism is laid with good intentions.  

BULLHEAD CITY, Ariz. – An "eternal" flame at Bullhead City's new veterans memorial park that only lasted until city officials received a $961 gas bill has been re-lit following complaints by veterans groups.The Medal of Honor Memorial at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Park alongside the Colorado River was lit onVeterans Day in November. 

When the bill arrived in late December, city officials were stunned."It caught us by surprise," City Manager Tim Ernster said Thursday. "What we decided to do for the time being is to turn the flame on...for special events, for Veterans Day, Fourth of July, Memorial Day — those types of activities."
Johnson said the flame is impressive, but city parks officials are looking at ways to put a smaller burner in place and only use the larger one at special events."We're looking at alternatives, because $1,000 a month in these economic times is certainly a consideration," Johnson said.
And the big question is: What was Bullhead thinking?  Did it really not occur to anyone that gas is expensive?  And of course, they probably didn't think about it much at all.  It was just a harmless feelgood gesture that would warm everyone's heart and show our patriotism.  What's the downside to honoring our troops?

And this really is symbolic of America's attitude towards military strength.  It's all one big win-win for everyone.  We get to look tough and feel good about ourselves and there's no need to worry about the bill.  But of course, military strength has a price.  Invading countries costs something and there does need to be a cost-benefit analysis to how expensive our pride is.  For as much as these people used to declare that "Freedom ain't free," it always struck me that they really didn't understand what they were saying.  To them, they were suggesting that the cost of freedom is the denial of freedom, while the whole point should have been the financial cost of freedom.

And in the case of this eternal flame, once they agreed to pay the bill, they're basically screwed.  I mean, it does look disrespectful to extinguish the "eternal" flame after just one month.  But $12,000 a year for a symbolic gesture?  Forever??  This really did need to be thought through a little more.  But again, this is the standard attitude of too many people.  Our schools have to overcharge people for flavored popcorn and peanut brittle, while we pour billions into our military without much consideration for what we're getting in return.  To not do so is unthinkable.

And don't get me wrong, I'm no diehard peacenik and definitely believe that America needs a strong military.  But there needs to be more thought to all this than spending billions for symbolism.  We stay in Iraq because it would send the wrong message if we left.  In other words, we're spending billions and billions of dollars for a PR campaign that is counter-productive.  Meanwhile, I just gave $5 for a stupid PTA raffle just so my kid's lunchroom could get a food processor.  Something is wrong with that.


Donald Douglas said...

"I'm no diehard peacenik and definitely believe that America needs a strong military."

Yeah. Right.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Doh! Busted again by Donald Douglas, the ingenious psychic conservative who knows the real truth about my political beliefs. Sure, I've always said the opposite of many of the beliefs he ascribes to me, but he "knows" my true beliefs because he knows that all liberals are irrational nihilists who all share the same viewpoints on every single issue. And he knows they all share the same viewpoints because they're liberals.

Brilliant deduction, Professor. You foiled me again!
< /sarcasm >

spocko said...

I was talking to a woman who works with group that works with returning vets. She said, "They never calculate the human cost of these multiple tours in the cost of their "weapons systems" Maybe the makers of these weapons system should have to included the cost of the psychological damage to the people who run the killing machines."

I think of the billions spent on hi-tech weapons systems that are used to keep fighting the cold war. I hope they will be used to shoot down asteroids heading for earth!

Anonymous said...

Donald Douglas sure makes a strong argument.

And unless Doctor Biobrain can prove he supports the troops there is no need to consider the point that empty militant symbolism is more expensive than patriots imagine when they conceive their 'tributes'.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Yes Anonymous, you're totally right. With two brief words of sarcasm, my entire post is refuted. Damn these guys are good. No wonder conservatives were so success at establishing their political dynasty: Their arguments are so self-evident that they don't even require any semblance of evidence to undermine everything we say and leave us in slack-jawed silence.

Two words from Professor Douglas, and I remain dumbstruck. Simply amazing.

repsac3 said...

Whatever you do, don't ask Donald to offer anything in the way of evidence in support of his allegations--or "observations," which is what he prefers to call his statements alleging something negative about a rival. It still sends him off the deep end, just as it did last summer... (He still brings it up, the poor guy... I think we really hurt his feelings...)