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Tuesday, October 2, 2001

Smokey Briggs


By Smokey Briggs

Arming pilots is a good move,

banning knives is just stupid

So far, our response to air travel security after September 11 makes me want to cry.

Most of the measures being debated illustrate how weak, delusional and completely divorced from reality we have become as a people.

Except for the suggestions to arm pilots and reintroduce sky marshals, I have yet to hear of one measure that might have prevented what happened on September 11. Not one.

Yet, we are happily submitting to anything in the name of security without thought as to whether the new measure will have any useful affect.

I doubt we have the courage to arm the pilots. That would require moral fortitude that we have not demonstrated as a people in half a century.

Sky Marshals? Maybe we will actually put one on every plane but I doubt it. Even if we do that leaves the odds at about four to one if September 11 is any indication. Pretty crummy odds for John Wayne, much less a mere mortal.

Banning knives and other "cutting instruments" on planes? Give me a break. Of all the pathetic, whining responses, this is the worst. It was not a knife that pacified the people on those airplanes. It was the threat of a bomb, and the mindset that 99.9 percent of airline hijackings end with most of the passengers walking away.

We have preached for years that the best reaction to violence is to be passive and hope for the best.

That mindset is gone now, or at least I hope it is.

When someone threatens you there is only one rational assumption _ that they mean to kill you and it is up to you to prevent them from doing so.

By banning knives all we have done is guarantee to any future terrorist that the passengers are even less prepared to deal with a threat than passengers were on September 11. These jerks took advantage of the ultimate gun-free zone to kill 6,000 Americans with a knife and the threat of a bomb.

Our response? Ban knives. Brilliant.

Increased airport security? Secure all you want. You cannot prevent another September 11 with security measures.

Have you noticed that nobody has mentioned how any of the security measures being discussed and implemented would have prevented the September 11 attacks?

That is because none of these measures would have prevented anything. The hijackers were ticketed passengers who claimed they had a bomb. You can get on a plane and pull the same stunt tomorrow.

Anyone who thinks future hijackers will not be able to get a weapon or two on board as well needs to enroll in Reality 101.

Will our new security measures be better than the FBI's? The CIA's? No, and each of these relatively small government agencies has had numerous security breaches.

What makes us think we can do better in the commercial travel industry?

There are only two ways to prevent terrorist airline hijackings. The first is preemptive strikes on terrorists before they can act. The second is the threat that the pilots, maybe a sky marshal, and the passengers are going to assume the worst and decide to go down fighting rather than be used as a suicide bomb.

I want my knife back.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Smokey Briggs is the editor and publisher of the Pecos Enterprise whose column appears on Tuesdays. He can be e-mailed at:

Our View

Commissioners got it right with tax cut

The County Commissioners got it right last week when they okayed a 25 percent cut in property taxes.

Every year taxes go up _ sales taxes, gasoline taxes, income taxes, luxury taxes, tobacco and alcohol taxes, state income taxes, personal property taxes, license plate fees, road and bridge taxes… We do not hear about a tax being lowered or going away all that often.

It is easy to argue for higher taxes. Politicians can point to the supposed exact place the money will be spent and it is always for a worthy cause.

The usual tax hike is almost always only a few pennies. Who cannot afford a couple of pennies? Right?

If you argue against a tax hike you are branded a heartless miser that does not care about the hungry and the children.

It took political guts for the commissioners to send the forecasted surplus back to Reeves County residents.

The truth is that taxation does not create real wealth. Taxes are a drag on commerce _ a necessary drag to the point needed to maintain an efficient infrastructure _ but that is all. We passed that point of taxation a long time ago.

As we are beginning to learn, after a century of penny tax hikes, even pennies add up.

This year Pecos property owners will see their property taxes fall. The effect will not be apparent.

There will be no immediate tangible effect that we can measure.

But we can be sure that it is a step in the right direction _ a step down a path that leads toward economic prosperity _ rather than another step down the path into the economy-choking thicket of tax-supported government bureaucracy.

Your View

PHS has lost it's school spirit

We say the third time is the charm. We also say three strikes and you're out!

1st strike: A school official changes the grade of a student at Pecos High School, causing two qualified teachers to be let go, or quit, for standing up for what they believe is right. The student passes without making the grade.

Lesson learned: Why study? I'll just get mom or dad to go up and get my grades changed. I don't need to study.

2nd strike: Several school officials dropped the ball when they let a student who was caught with drugs back on the team. Mom and Dad threatened a lawsuit so our officials gave in. Then a second student was let back on a different team for the same crime. I guess this was only fair _ we don't want a lawsuit against us for that too!

Lesson learned: We can do anything we want to and not get punished.

3rd strike: What school officials were in charge of the Homecoming Bonfire? They dropped the ball too! Isn't this homecoming affair for school spirit? Everyone that was there was ready for anything to happen, but nothing did. The band didn't get to play the school song. The cheerleaders didn't get to cheer for our teams. No school spirit at all. And what a great chance we lost to not only show school spirit, but also the American spirit. What if the band had played our National Anthem? What if we had prayed for our Nation, our President, and all the victims of September 11, 2001? What if we had said a prayer for coach Bubba Williams? Do you think it would have created school spirit, American spirit? We will never know.

Lesson learned: Oh, who cares.

Class of `78

Eagles-Loboes prayer is reason for hope

Dear Editor:
Friday September the 28th was a great day for  Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD, the Town of Pecos City, Monahans, and the Nation. Yes, it  is true that the Eagles won the contest in one of the most exciting games  I have ever had the fortune to watch. But that is not the reason for my  pride. Yes, both teams played with dignity, pride and valor. But that is not  the hallmark of the day that I will forever remember.

Much has been said about the human condition since September 11, 2001. The moments and days following the tragic events of that day have been called our "defining moment". A Sunday morning news program even opined that September the 11th is defining a generation. The reporter interviewed a group of 20 somethings that had been living a life of hedonistic humanism. They had been pursuing the "American Dream". After the 11th they said they were forever changed and now realized that relationships and life were more important than material things. One young Wall Streeter said that he had been living with his fiancé for seven years and decided that it was time to make a commitment. What a knot-head! But this is not what gives me hope.

Surely I am not the only one who noticed. Surely there were many who "mounted up as on the wings of Eagles" and wept with great Joy. Following the obligatory and "politically correct" moment of silence and the playing of the National Anthem there was an act of defiance and unfettered purity. It was an unbelievable moment of honesty and integrity given to those with the wisdom to see and the heart to feel. It was a gift from God to let us know that He is still in control. The gift was given to us through the young men on the field as if God was saying "the laws of this Nation that was built upon My foundation cannot keep Me from My people."

The Eagles met the Loboes at the center of the field of honor. Both teams removed their helmets, embraced and shook hands. They then spontaneously dropped to their knees and prayed. Young men of faith, of diverse denominations, maybe some who had not made a commitment to Christ, maybe some who will never know the Joy of a personal relationship with Christ, all joined together to say this is what we want to do and it is the right thing to do.

They say Church attendance is up significantly since September the 11 th. They say that people are searching for answers, direction and meaning in their lives. Some say God has removed his covering from this Nation. Jesus said "deny Me before man and I will deny you before My Father." There is a group of young men that have proclaimed before us that there is hope. Oh that I would have such faith and courage. Thank you Loboes and Eagles.

What is man that You are mindful of him, and the Son of Man that You visit Him? Psalm 8:4


Guest Column

Where we go from here

Over the past few days, America has mourned the senseless loss  of lives in New York and Washington, D.C. Now we must begin to brace  for the future and prepare against any new threats to our liberties.  Terrorists may have attacked our buildings and destroyed our property, but  they cannot extinguish the ingenuity and spirit that built our nation. As  a nation, we face two important challenges. First, we must secure  our people against further attacks and terrorist threats. Second, we  must rebuild and strengthen our economy, unleashing the entrepreneurship  and creativity that generated the prosperity we enjoy today.

President Bush is already moving forward with plans to ensure Americans are safe in their communities. These efforts will inevitably command significant taxpayer resources. Indeed, Congress has already appropriated $40 billion in new spending to fund anti-terrorist and rebuilding efforts.

But we must also work quickly to shore up our economy to counteract terrorist attempts to thwart our economic growth. The assault on the World Trade Center was also an attack on the economic freedoms of every American. The economy faced challenges before September 11, 2001 and the pro-growth policies that made good sense then are now an economic imperative.

Our economy is stronger than that of any other nation. We produce more than 20 percent of the world's economic output, providing goods and services for people around the globe. Foreign markets are critical to many American businesses and we must ensure that their doors remain open. Terrorist attempts to disrupt the world economy cannot stand.

Here at home, we must invigorate the creative abilities of the entrepreneurs and innovators who have fueled our economy. Now more than ever policymakers should take steps to simplify the tax code, free up needed capital and spur new economic growth. This could be accomplished by simply making President Bush's tax cut permanent and eliminating the capital gains tax.

At the same time, unnecessary regulations that stifle economic activity must be re-examined. As the stock sell-off since the attack attests, the terrorist assault may be on of the greatest single economic disturbances in generations. We should not compound this uncertainty with regulations that thwart productivity and add an element of regulatory risk to investment decisions.

In light of the recent terrorist attacks, U.S. energy policy takes on an ethical dimension. Our unwillingness to meet more of our energy needs at home may have helped strengthen our enemies abroad. No one denies that fuel and energy markets must be global to function at their current level. However, our ever-increasing dependence on foreign sources of energy has afforded some foreign governments undue influence over the U.S. economy. Furthermore, given current technology, the fears of environmental devastation in sensitive areas of the country are largely exaggerated or imagined. However, the threat of further terror and violence against our fellow citizens is decidedly real. We must find ways to meet our own energy needs to protect our nation and our personal freedom.

Finally, our government needs to be prudent in it's spending. A war against terrorism is a costly endeavor that will take an increasing share of the government's resources. Fiscal discipline will be required to ensure that wasteful government programs do not detract from our focus. Spending priorities should be established and traditional pork barrel politics should halt. Revisiting domestic spending priorities is now an economic necessity.

Ultimately, the strength of our country relies on the strength of our economy. A thriving economy is an important component of America's security. As we move to eradicate terrorism we cannot forget what made our country strong in the first place.

Paul Beckner is President of Citizens for a Sound Economy, a grassroots organization that educates and motivates its more than 300,000 members. He can be reached at 1250 H Street NW, Suite 700, Washington, DC 20005.

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