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Tuesday, April 13, 1999

Smokey Briggs


By Smokey Briggs

Fiddlers always
get paid

Fiddlers, like lawyers, always get paid. The only choice is
when to pay and with what.

As a country, we have been in this situation before. The
most glaring example is the decade before World War II.

Without a strong enemy in our hemisphere, we are quick to
ditch defense spending in favor of more popular (and vote
buying) social and domestic programs.

In the years before World War II we crippled the military
with paltry defense budgets. In the opening acts of the war
we paid for it — mostly in blood.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, submarines were one of
the few assets we had left in the Pacific Ocean.

The submarines were ordered to engage the Japanese Navy to
try to slow down the advance across the Pacific.

We suffered heavy losses. Worse, often these losses were in
vain because our sailors were armed with substandard
torpedoes. More than 30 percent failed to explode when they
hit a Japanese ship.

The reason we had faulty torpedoes was because testing them
cost money and the country decided to save some money. So we
performed minimal tests. The faults weren’t revealed during
the testing.

Since 1992, and the advent of the current presidential
administration, the United States has been embarked on a
massive mission to reduce military spending.
Although only the savings have been publicized, the
reduction in military capabilities have been just as real.
Much of this reduction has been justified as the so called
peace dividend — a term referring to a reduction in defense
spending no longer necessary since the Cold War is over.
As the president continues his campaign to bomb Serbia into
submission, the true effects of this peace dividend may
become all to clear.

Throughout the national media there are reports hinting at
the strain this campaign has placed on our military forces.
Cruise missile stocks are being depleted and the defense
sector can’t quickly respond to the need. The Air Force is
hard-pressed to deploy enough aerial tankers to support our
commitments in Iraq and Kosovo. Reportedly, it may take more
than a month to deploy 24 Apache helicopters to the Kosovo

The most frightening consideration is the relatively minor
scale of the operations that are creating this strain.
Iraq? Kosovo?

Have we really stripped our military to the point that we
can’t run a limited air patrol in Iraq and still bomb a
small province in a fourth-rate country in Eastern Europe?
It appears we have.

Luckily, we haven’t been forced into a war with a country
with a real military capability. Until we are, politicians
will continue to buy votes with social and domestic spending
and casually dismiss concerns about the capabilities of the

Of course, we the voters are just as guilty. We elected
them. And reelected them.

The whole scenario mirrors the apparent spending habits and
attitudes of our society in general.

Credit card, and other high-interest debt, has reached an
all-time high in the United States. Savings are generally a
thing of the past.

As a culture we spend now to obtain the luxuries we want
with no thought of the long term price.

Unfortunately, as the bankruptcy rate indicates, there is no
free ride. High interest rates take their toll.

Eventually, somebody has to pay.

Paltry defense spending has a similar but more devastating
effect. Eventually we have to pay the fiddler.

Smart societies pay up front in the form of higher defense
spending. Societies with less forethought borrow time and
put the payments off till later.

Unfortunately, the currency demanded to pay the interest on
this loan is usually blood.

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


Marriage tax is wrong

Up until 1969, folks fared better on their income tax
returns if they were married.

In 1969, Congress voted to change the tax code.

Unfortunately, the result was the so called “marriage tax”
penalty. Since 1969, married couples have paid more income
tax than they would have it they simply weren’t married.

This year, married couples will pay an average of $1,400
more than they would have to if they weren’t married.
This is wrong.

A long accepted goal of law making is the fostering of
social institutions deemed good for the country.

Marriage has long been held to be one such good institution.
This was one of the reasons behind the pre-1969 tax law
giving married couples a tax break.

While the tax code does not have to supply an economic
incentive for marriage, in the least, it should not create
an economic obstacle for married couples.

Currently there is a bill before the U. S. House of

Representatives that would eliminate this tax on marriage.

This bill deserves our support.


Reader sounds off about recent column

To The Editor:
Please note that I did not use the term “Mister”. While you
may interpret that as lacking can you expect
respect when you are debasing our President and Secretary of
State in your Sage News column??? Now that I have taken care
of that item, listen up...
Just in case you didn't know, we have had many Presidents
and/or Secreteries that had personal problems and some
didn't compare to our latest President...had we had
communication facilities as we do today you would no doubt
have some more to debase in your column. You must not think
for a moment that you are without sin. I believe it is not
up to us to condemn ANYONE lest our sins are made public
...through your column!!!
Prior/your taking over The Enterprise we had many, many
articles that were straight from the shoulder, well thought
out and a pleasure to read. I don’t believe there were many
people that disagreed or mouthed off about an article or
news item as you did. Of course I doubt whether The
Enterprise ever received letters as bold and harsh as mine
is now, either.
It is kind of sad that you try to portray yourself as the
one and only person to understand the risks of a military
event. I look at your caricature at the top of your column
and wonder if you are even old enough to comprehend what
military operations are all about and if you are of
sufficient age to have had some kind of association with the
military...I swear you didn't learn very much!!!
In the event that you have a staunch political agenda then
it should be admitted and/or confessed, in your column, at
the very next and early date so we know where you really
come from.
Perhaps you like to shoot off your mouth about things that
you want us to believe are pure fact and true gospel. I
don’t for a second see how your type of editing or reporting
has convinced us that you or your commentary are genuine or
has possibly endeared many of your paper's readers!!!
I read your column to which you refer and wanted to voice my
objection about the way you viciously ridiculed our
President and Secretary of State, only a short hospital stay
kept me from it at the time. That is one reason I cannot
approve of the style or manner in which you try to cram your
distorted views down our throats!!!
Take a deep breath and stop for a moment...I suppose I could
apologize for railing on about your actions...but I notice
too that The Enterprise doesn’t have an over abundance of
letters to The Editor from your customers and/or there some particularly good reason why, that
you could point out to me? I think not!!! The only thing
readers can do is shrug their shoulders and let their minds
mercifully clear to shed your nasty comments.
I would like to explain to you just where I come from. I
have a military background having spent twelve years in the
service with three years in North Africa, Sicily, Italy,
Corsica, France, Luxembourg, Belgium and Germany during
World War II. Three long years that taught me many of life’s
lessons. I have seen first hand people that didn’t have the
proverbial pot or window and were hardly able to survive the
terrible battles. I have also been in Dachau, one of
Hitler’s infamous concentration camps, where the will to
live was tremendous but the ability was soon removed by the
gas chambers, shots to the head and the crematories.
In reference to the F-117A stealth fighter... you said you
would bet your eye teeth that Russia had teams standing by
in Serbia or nearby, just in case we lost a stealth
fighter...oh yeah, they were there alright, the only thing
you failed to say was that they all dressed in dark clothing
and held their breath so as to not to alert us to their
presence. Any who wheezed were not allowed to be part of the
team. You also forgot to mention that some were disguised as
aliens from outer stupid!!! Now that you have
lost that bet you are a serious candidate for dentures!!!

Angrily Yours,
Dayton, Texas

P.S. I almost forgot...I challenge you to print my letter in
your Letters To The Editor section...let’s see what readers
do in the way of a response. I am rather thick skinned so
maybe we will see how many might tear me apart.

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