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[Off Topic] Senator Jim Webb: Clueless

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As I was watching the Democratic response to President Bush’s State Of The Union speech tonight Senator Jim Webb played the United States Marine card three times (for himself, his brother, and his son all Marines). I take it personally when someone does that.

The first thing Webb does is claims to know better than the president and all the president’s advisors how to effectively fight terrorism because, well, Jim was a Marine in Vietnam. Well Jim, I was a Marine at the end of the Vietnam war. I didn’t go, it was mostly over by then, but one thing I noticed was that all the non-commissioned officers senior to me were real combat veterans. They knew how to survive guerilla warfare in an Asian backwater. Me and my generation of Marines, all we did was play at wargames 4 weeks a year in the Mojave desert. No one was trying to kill us, no foreign language was spoken by the natives, no guerillas in civilian clothes running around, none of that. After 30 years of that kind of experience our military was virtually without anyone in any rank who’d had actual combat experience. Here’s the deal Jim. In order to have an effective force in fighting guerilla and urban wars in Arab countries we need actual combat veterans seasoned in that type of warfare leading the unseasoned troops. Use your head, Jim. Now we have an effective force led by NCOs who know how to survive urban and guerilla wars in Arab countries. And Bush managed to build that force without losing 58,000 American lives as were sacrificed in Vietnam but rather limited the losses to 3,000. Use your head for something other than a place to put your hat, Jim. We needed a veteran ground combat force for the Middle Eastern theater. Now we have one. Now what happened to Russia in Afghanistan won’t happen to us.

The next bit of cluelessness was Webb on the economy. He said

When I graduated from college, the average corporate CEO made 20 times what the average worker did; today, it’s nearly 400 times. In other words, it takes the average worker more than a year to make the money that his or her boss makes in one day.

This is just utter dreck. The average CEO salary in the United States today is $1.2 million according to a survey by Pearl Meyer & Partners mentioned on Money Central. What Webb failed to mention is that at the largest 50 companies the average is $10.7 million. Meanwhile the average worker salary in the U.S. was $37,000 in 2002 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. I don’t know about Senator Webb’s calculator but when I divide 1,200,000 by 37,000 the answer is 32. The average CEO salary today is 32 times the average worker salary. That’s up from when Senator Webb and Elvis Presley were serving in the armed forces but it’s a long ways from the 400 times that Webb gave in his speech.

Even worse, the average CEO loses 50% of his salary in state & local income taxes while the average worker loses 20%. So it’s really $600,000 vs. $30,000 which is a factor of 20. Wow. When take-home pay is compared the average CEO makes 20 times the average worker. Just like when Elvis was singing in the Army. How about that. And speaking of fair, the average CEO pays almost 100 times as much in taxes ($600,000 vs. $7,000) as the average worker. Some people might not call that fair as it’s unlikely the CEO is using 100 times as much in government services as the average worker.

Color me disgusted. I expect most politicians to lie and be stupid about how to create a seasoned, finely tuned military but I expect my fellow Marines to have a bit more integrity and military savvy than most politicians. What a letdown. Drop and give me 500 Webb, then issue an apology to the public you tried to deceive.

Update: Due to the controversial nature of this and it being so off topic I’ve pulled the plug on the comments. Apologies to all those who contributed throughtful comments.