Words to Live By
Since 1993 A SPIFF Publication Vol. 5, No. 2

Happy Veterans' Day Week

The Light from an Oncoming Train
Politics makes strange bedfellows indeed. Even for those of us who don't have $100,000 for the Lincoln bedroom. 

It looks like fast track is dead. You know what that means, don't you? It means global recession, unemployment, and a new stimulus package proposal from the Clintons Administration. Well, one out of three, anyway.

If you paid attention to the medialibs (which you don't, of course), you'd think that the Fast Track Trade Agreement will lead to more and better jobs and a growing economy. Either that or to fewer and lower paying jobs and a better Mexican economy. (It's really fun watching the medialibs not be able to speak in one unified Democrat voice. They're speaking in two divided Democrat voices this time.)

What is the Fast Track Trade Agreement really? Nothing. That's right. Absolutely nothing. There is no such thing. It doesn't exist!

Fast track is a legislative procedure, not a trade agreement. If the sometimes-Republican Congress had passed it, it would simply mean that when trade agreements (trade agreements, not treaties) come before Congress, Congress would pass or reject them with no amendments. Before they even get to Congress, President Clinton's top trade representatives and Bill would negotiate these agreements in the best interests of the United States. Snicker, snicker.

So does the defeat, or rather the bye, of fast track mean that the Clintons can't do such negotiations? Only according to them. All it means is that Congress would have the authority to make amendments. Imagine that. Congress having the authority to remove such nonessential items as more money for foreign abortions and $100 for 30-year-old Utes in California.

There are two types of people we don't understand on this issue: those who supported fast track and those who opposed it. The opponents, Dick Gephardt and his Union Thugs, oppose fast track because it will send all the good jobs to Mexico. Well, that may be a concern (although a wrong one) for opposing a free-trade agreement, but what they're opposing is giving the President pro tempore of the United States the authority to tie the hands of the evil, right-wing nuts in the Congress. If there ever is going to be another free-trade agreement, Dick and the Union Thugs will have no better friend negotiating than they do now.

On the other side, we don't understand the supporters_our friends (and a few acquaintances) in the Congress. If fast track is passed (probably not until next year), they would have two choices: defeat new trade agreements, or make them law. No improvements. No amendments. No removing such Clinton-inspired stipulations as "The party of the second part [that would be us] shall impart to the party of the first part [that would be all the other countries involved] a big bag of money [that would be your tax dollars] in return for a promise to not be quite so mean to cute plants and animals. If the party of the first part shall break its promise, the party of the second part shall impart to the party of the first part a bigger bag of money in return for a promise not to break the first promise again [and a big donation to the DNC.]"

The supporters often point out that "every president since Ford" (That's not that many, folks.) has had this authority. Well, every president from Washington through Nixon has done without it. They've all made agreements subject to the revision of Congress. More importantly, every president since Ford, through Bush, has put America's interests first. We can't expect that this time.

Well, what about NAFTA and GATT? Aren't they wonderful? Not really. We at Spiff think that they may be better than nothing, but they're not nearly as good as they should be. They're huge! They're complicated! They're a government lawyer's dream!

What they're not is free trade. We believe in free trade. The President, Ronald Reagan, proposed the North American Free Trade Agreement, which unfortunately became NAFTA. 3,648,761,516 pounds (1,655,050,385 kg.) of regulations aren't exactly our idea of freedom.

What we need is a free trade agreement patterned after one we found in an obscure document. It says, "No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it's inspection Laws..." That wasn't so heavy, now was it.

The question is this. Is a bad trade agreement better than no trade agreement? With this bunch occupying the White House, those are the only two choices.

Veterans Versus Victims!
Editor's Note: Plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery. We didn't write this article. We stole it (with permission, of course.) from the Daily Outrage web page. Visit it at www.dailyoutrage.com. It's a great page.

As we approach the celebration of Veterans Day in the United States... on Tuesday, November 11, we thought it might be a good time to look at the way our veterans are treated.

Here at the DO we often disagree with the various military adventures into which politicians enmesh us. But as our readers frequently remind us, the job of the armed forces is to obey orders, not to make policy.

Like most of our generation, we've been fortunate enough to avoid military conscription. Father Outrage served in the army during the Korean Conflict, and Grandfather Outrage managed to fight in both WWI and WWII. George Washington once said, "I am a soldier, so that my son can be a farmer, so that his son can be a poet." Well, the DO hardly qualifies as poetry, but we hope Grandfather Outrage is not too disappointed.

Our hats are off to all the men and women who have fought our country's battles. Even when foolish politicians have sent you off to foreign jungles and deserts you've fought bravely, often displaying amazing valor and resourcefulness. While politicians have taken the credit, or tried to avoid the blame, the armed forces have shed real blood around the globe.

So how has America rewarded those who have fought our country's battles? We thought we might compare the way that society rewards those who fight and die for their country with the way the court system compensates "victims." Here goes:

"If the veteran, as the result of service-connected disability, has suffered the anatomical loss or loss of use of one or more creative organs, or one foot, or one hand, or both buttocks, or blindness of one eye, having only light perception, or has suffered complete organic aphonia with constant inability to communicate by speech, or deafness of both ears, having absence of air and bone conduction, the rate of compensation therefor shall be $70 per month for each such loss but in no event to exceed $3,093 per month." _United States Code, Title 38, Section 1110(k)

To translate from the legalese, if a soldier stepped on a mine and had his foot blown off, being maimed for life, he would receive $70 per month. If he lost one hand, one foot, one ear, complete loss of hearing, and both his buttocks were blown away he would receive an amount "in no event to exceed $3,093 per month."

On the other hand, if they were a navy aviator like Paula Coughlin and they were "harassed" as part of the Tailhook scandal, then their compensation would be $5 million. Coughlin was not physically injured, but suffered "psychological trauma." (This award was upheld by an appeals court jury.)

"If the veteran, as the result of service-connected disability, has suffered the anatomical loss or loss of use of both feet, or of one hand and one foot, or is blind in both eyes, with 5/200 visual acuity or less, or is permanently bedridden or so helpless as to be in need of regular aid and attendance, the monthly compensation shall be $2,207." --United States Code, Title 38, Section 1110(l)

On the other hand, Alonzo Jackson was awarded $850,000 when an Eddie Bauer security guard forced him to remove a shirt the guard thought was stolen. Jackson cried on the stand when he reenacted the trauma of removing his shirt for the jury. Two friends of the crying boy (who were forced to stand in a corner) were each awarded $75,000...

What about a soldier who makes the ultimate sacrifice for his country, and dies in battle? How is his family compensated for the loss? Depending on the soldier's rank, his grieving family may receive anywhere from $769 per month to $1,636 per month.

On the other hand, the parents of Sergio Jiminez were awarded $262,500,000 as a result of the death of their six-year-old. Mr. and Mrs. Jiminez did not put their child in a seat belt, and they may have run a red light leading to the accident. The South Carolina jury thought that Chrysler did not adequately design a latch on the Jimenez's minivan.

To summarize, if veterans serving their country:
Lose a hand or foot they get $70 per month.
Go blind or lose both feet or both hands: $2,207 per month.
Lose both legs: 2,768 per month.
Die: Maximum of $1,636 per month for surviving family.

On the other hand, if ...you can get "victim status" the awards are dramatically different:
If you're a female officer harassed by your fellow officers: $5,000,000.
If you're black and you cry because you had to take off your shirt in public: $850,000...
If you're Hispanic, don't put your child in a seat belt, run a red light, and the child dies: $262,500,000.

Is this the America our parents and grandparents died to defend?

Quote of the weak:
"I want us to lead in world trade, but lead toward a capitalism that has a human face. I don't want a race to the bottom."
Dick Gephardt,
who has a head start.
Quote of the strong:
"What has always made the state a hell on earth has been precisely that man has tried to make it his heaven."
Friedrich Holderlin,
quoted by Friedrich Hayek
Words to Live By is published every week at about this time by Spiff. You can send a fax to us here in the Spiff Executive Tower, on the banks of the mighty Cumberland River, at 615-847-2259. You can e-mail us at spiff@spiff.org.