Sunday, June 9, 2013

Million-Dollar Baby

The other day I was talking to an 18-year-old who signed up for the Navy. They hooked her by promising to put a million dollars in her bank account after six months of service. This is obviously a complete lie, the first of several falsified, cleverly-worded promises. She bought it, autographed a lifetime contract, which means the Navy owns the last breath she’ll ever breathe and every breath till then. She was hoodwinked and outsmarted and now she’s government property. That’s what these recruiters do. They target the poor and the dumb and prey on them. It’s criminal. Try shooting that routine to Little Calib at North Colonie. His mother would’ve had that recruiter arrested. Calib goes to college. Vo-Tec kid goes to Iraq.

Should we be paying fake-homage to young people who sign on for this? At nationwide high school graduations this month, new recruits in all branches of the Armed Services, will accept their diplomas, donning the same uniform they’ll one day be buried in. Everyone will obligatorily applaud their bravery and make them believe we respect what they’re doing. But every smart parent is actually thinking: Thank God that’s not my kid. If it was socially acceptable to confront these young people with the severity of their decision, less would sign on and sacrifice their lives, because they believe the Government is going to give them a million dollars and people are genuinely clapping their “brave choice.” If we told them the truth: You’re going immediately to war, there is a chance you’re going to be killed at the hands of a total stranger, they might--um--reconsider. Maybe.

I read an article in the TIMES UNION about Albany native Todd Clark, a 40-year-old Lt. Colonel killed in Afghanistan this weekend. Why was he killed? Who knows? But we do know he leaves behind a wife and two young children who will never know their father, but will be able to call his mantle-piece picture hero. Hero or not, he’s dead 40 years too soon, murdered in the desert dirt, then shipped home in a flag-covered box like luggage.

Here’s where I have to say Todd Clark was a hero and he’s the reason I get to enjoy my American Freedoms, and all that other stuff politicians spout to get elected. If Todd was selling cars on Central Ave right now, I’d have the same exact life. But hey, he got a million dollars after six months, right? What? His wife has to work and raise two kids and just squeak by? You mean that million-dollar thing was a recruitment lie.

“Brian, who will protect your American freedoms?” Well, we got about 200,000 able-bodied boys doing push-ups in prison cells, costing the economy millions of dollars a day. They can protect my freedoms and Todd Clark can sell cars. “Don’t be ridiculous, Brian, they’re hardened criminals.” I thought we were rehabbing them for the betterment of society. If they can’t even go to Afghanistan and put bullets in “bad guys,” why are keeping them around?

I love the old they’ll-pay-for-my-college logic. First off, they probably won’t. Second, who cares? You want to give up ages 18-22 to save a few thousand dollars? So instead of bars, and girls, and concerts, and spring breaks, and an enjoyable education, you’re going to Afghanistan so you don’t have to pay back college-loan debt? I’ll take the loans over war. I’ll take Attica over war. I have no interest in leaving America at 18 years old to chase Middle Easterners around their hell-on-earth country. America is the greatest thing in the history of the world. We have HD TV, Disney World, and Tom Coughlin. I’m not going anywhere if I don’t have to. And guess what? We could stay in Afghanistan for 200 years, and radical attacks against America will still happen.

Is this Afghan War STILL about 9/11? Didn’t we kill every single person who had anything to do with that? Why are Americans still being mortar-bombed 13 years later? I’ll tell you why: George W. Bush. Bush II ruined this country. He ruined education, economics, housing, the auto industry, long walks on the beach, and of course the military. He ruined everything. The only silver lining I can see when I read about guys like Todd Clark and talk to people like my 18-year-old friend is that Obama only took four years to plug the toxic spill that was the GW Presidency.

The other day I watched Channel 10 News, with my boy John Gray as anchor, and the Around the Nation Stories were as follows: Unemployment down, market up, housing back, education on the mend. Obama’s next four years are going to be golden, a miracle after Bush. And when he puts America back on total track, maybe more people will decide to take on college and/or the work force instead of falling for the fear-driven lies sold to children by the Armed Services. But probably not.

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Brian Huba

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