Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Re: The Fukushima Fifty

I'd like to share some feedback we received on our post titled The Fukushima Fifty which was about true heroism and what passes for it in today's culture.

Dave K. sent along this:
Very nice reflection on the Fukushima Fifty heroes. That's something all of us should hear about, but you're right, unfortunately it's not deemed "news-worthy" most of the time. Or if it is, it's all too easily drowned out by the "real" news of the day. In this "me-first" society, I wonder how many here would make the same choice, day after day, to go back into that reactor. Is it something we think about, or does this all just make for another entertaining read in the comfort of our homes, perhaps a topic of conversation like who won the baseball game last night.

This story, along with your post, reminds me of Pat Tillman's life. Amongst the chorus of praise for what his sacrifice meant for our country, there was an unmistakable undertow of sentiments harbored by those that thought he was just caught up in the moment of wartime, and made a rash decision. Nothing could be further from the truth. The more we hear stories such as these, though, the more we realize that these heroes are no different than us. They're just ordinary people who make extraordinary choices when their time comes, and then carry out that choice with pride and honor. And it muffles those like Lindsey Lohan and Charlie Sheen, in whom we really find no semblance of ourselves at all. It's a shame it takes a story like this to do that though.
Kristi included this moving passage in her email:
I have a very close friend that spent time in Iraq, and has now returned to the states, injured and psychologically affected. He completed his four year tour as a combat medic in the front lines, responsible for the health of 31 men below him. He has seen places, injuries, horror, and death, all of which I could never possibly imagine. While there, he lost some of his good friends, right before his eyes. He has described very little to me about his experience, but what he has told me gives me chills down my spine.

He says this...'soldiers sometimes return from war with depression and nightmares of their friends dying along side of them. Now imagine me, as a medic. Not only is my friend dying along side of me, but it is my job to save him. And when I can't, I feel that I have failed, and it is my fault that he has not lived.'

Wow. How can I even respond to a statement like that, with no true idea of the feelings of disappointment, anger, and extreme sadness that it describes. How can I make him realize that he did save some of his friends' lives, that he is not responsible for those deaths, and that he cannot blame himself forever? How can I make him see the true hero that lies inside of him? The admiration and awe that he gives to people like me who recognize and truly value what he has done, what he has seen, and the risks he took to protect those he loved?

He risked his life to save others, and although he didn't lose his life in the physical sense, psychologically he will never be the same. HE IS A HERO, and he can't slam dunk, carry a tune, or even THINK about acting in front of a camera. People like him and the Fukushima Fifty are what American needs to idolize, not those lucky enough to climb themselves to the top with some mutant vocal cords and a pretty face.
Good thoughts.

More Takers Than Makers

Stephen Moore has a sobering op-ed at the Wall Street Journal. It explains a lot about why so many states are in fiscal crisis and why big government is such a burden to the American taxpayer. Here's part of Moore's piece:
If you want to understand better why so many states—from New York to Wisconsin to California—are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, consider this depressing statistic: Today in America there are nearly twice as many people working for the government (22.5 million) than in all of manufacturing (11.5 million). This is an almost exact reversal of the situation in 1960, when there were 15 million workers in manufacturing and 8.7 million collecting a paycheck from the government.

It gets worse. More Americans work for the government than work in construction, farming, fishing, forestry, manufacturing, mining and utilities combined. We have moved decisively from a nation of makers to a nation of takers. Nearly half of the $2.2 trillion cost of state and local governments is the $1 trillion-a-year tab for pay and benefits of state and local employees. Is it any wonder that so many states and cities cannot pay their bills?

Every state in America today except for two — Indiana and Wisconsin — has more government workers on the payroll than people manufacturing industrial goods. Consider California, which has the highest budget deficit in the history of the states. The not-so Golden State now has an incredible 2.4 million government employees — twice as many as people at work in manufacturing. New Jersey has just under two-and-a-half as many government employees as manufacturers. Florida's ratio is more than 3 to 1. So is New York's.
To be sure, many government workers provide a valuable service to their communities. Teachers, police, firefighters, emergency responders, those who maintain vital services, are all important, but too many government workers, particularly at the state and federal level, receive pay and benefits for performing jobs that are utterly non-essential.

Those who actually create something, who make wealth, are carrying on their backs as many as three government workers apiece who create nothing but whose livelihood often depends upon being able to extract wealth from those upon whose backs they ride. The government has become, in effect, an employment sink for millions of people who might otherwise be unemployed, and we simply can no longer afford it.

The rest of Moore's article is very good. It's an eye-opener.