Miscellany

CIVILIZED FUNThe happiest people, generally, are the presidents of corporations, according to Morehouse. “They work the longest hours, but what [...]

September 1 1988 by Chief Executive


CIVILIZED FUN

The happiest people, generally, are the presidents of corporations, according to Morehouse. “They work the longest hours, but what they do is creative.” He advised them to rest at noon. “A really high-powered executive shouldn’t go and bash a squash ball around. He’d be better off doing a crossword puzzle.”

-Louis Farr, M


LUDDITE LOGIC

Today’s Luddites are most often found in the anti-defense community in the U.S. They oppose every new weapon. The Stinger surface-to-air missile, for example, was decried as a weapon that required its operator to have a master’s degree; it was too complex, too costly, too unreliable, and should not be bought. As we all know now, the U.S. gave Stingers to the Afghan freedom fighters, few of whom have advanced degrees in physics. Those overly complex, ineffective and expensive weapons are being wielded by semi-literate hill people and were decisive in winning a war against the Soviet Union. The Luddites were wrong. Again. But don’t expect any of them to admit it.

SDI will never work, they proclaim. (Surprise!) Their method of arriving at this conclusion is rather curious. When you strip all the technospeak away, they’re claiming that it can’t be done because it hasn’t been done yet, and therefore, we ought not even to try doing it, because it can’t be done. That’s Luddite Logic if ever I heard it.

-Tom Clancy, The Wall Street Journal


DOWN WITH DEFENSE

I do not indulge myself in the latest intellectual fad to sweep the United States; that is, declaring that our high level of defense spending is inexorably leading to the longterm decline of the nation. Paul Kennedy’s book is invariably cited as the scholarly support for that thesis.

It is farfetched to equate the current economic situation in this country with the inordinate military burden borne by the Spanish Empire in the 17th century when Hapsburg monarch, Philip IV, waged war simultaneously with Turkey, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, the German princes, and faced rebellions in Portugal and Catalonia.

If anyone is really interested in drawing parallels, it should be between the Spanish and the Russian Empires. It is the Soviet Union which devotes an overwhelming share of its national resources to military undertakings. Although the data base leaves a lot to be desired, the percentage of the USSR’s gross national product taken by its military establishment is likely to be twice the ratio prevailing in the United States.

The trend over the past half century is for the United States to devote a declining share of its national resources to defense spending. That, to be sure, is no justification for either reversing the pattern-or for maintaining it. But the pace of military outlays certainly does not provide a basis for proclaiming the decline of the Republic.

-Murray Weidenbaum, CSAB (Center for the Study of American Business)


FEELING GOOD ABOUT SOUTH AFRICA

Did anyone really believe that some blacks in South Africa would benefit from the shutting down of Eastman Kodak’s facilities there? Or that apartheid would be set back when Dow and Citicorp and ITT sold their facilities? Were the South African, Japanese, and European buyers supposed to be more committed to equal treatment for black workers? Black unemployment has increased in the past four years, and the Botha regime has not moved beyond the modest constitutional reforms it was proposing in 1985. What has been accomplished by the exodus of over 100 U.S. corporations?

Unlike [Alan] Paton and [Helen] Suzman, American liberals seem uninterested in pursuing that question. We do not know of a single liberal voice anywhere in the U.S. in the churches, in Congress, on the campuses-that has acknowledged the failure of the movement and proposed reversing course. What you keep seeing, instead, are protesters with no interest in tracking the political consequences of wanting blacks worse off, hoping their misery will end in bloody revolution. What most seem to know about South Africa is just one thing: that fighting for divestment makes them feel good.

-Fortune


DRAWN SCALPELS AT 10 PACES

Asked why he had decided to postpone his hernia operation moments before it was due to start, Mr. Kevin Hetherington said: “I was lying down prior to the anesthetic when two surgeons began to argue over which one was going to do the work. Seconds later, one threw a punch at the other and, as they grappled to the floor of the operating theatre, I slipped away.”

-The Guardian (London)


EX POST FACTOTUM

A Nottingham postman was discovered putting Communist Party literature into Conservative election envelopes. He said: “There was no political motive. I only did it to speed up delivery.”

-The Mail on Sunday (London)


GLAST-NUTS

Appearing before a congressional committee, I was asked my opinion of the Soviet economic condition. I replied that I “came back in favor of communism-for the Russians!”

I still feel that way, which is why I am worried by Mikhail Gorbachev. What if he succeeds in changing the system?

-James Bovard, The Wall Street Journal