Wednesday, December 29, 2010

One revolving door is not like the other

Special Comment by Mr. Frank Aaronson SecFear Malcolm P. Stag III *

"The liberal media has no business complaining about the military's revolving door
unless it is prepared to look at its own reflection in the other one." 
- Frank Aaronson 

Two industries -- I'll call them Industry A and Industry B -- have different kinds of leaders, fulfilling markedly different roles in American society.   Leaders in both industries have been known to take up  employment within both the public and private sectors, passing through a so-called "revolving door."   Yet these leaders and their industries have little else in common. 

Leaders of Industry A
  1. Idea of "public service" is a two-year stint in the West Wing.
  2. Purpose is profits (and large bonuses).
  3. Motivation is money.
  4. Provide jobs for fellow Harvard graduates in New York City.
  5. Attended mainly ivy league schools, prep schools.
  6. Encourage downsizing, off-shoring, and relentless margin-cutting, resulting in lower paid jobs for the American workforce. 
  7. Work in the industry that caused the Great Depression and Great Recession.
Leaders of Industry B
  1. Idea of "public service" is to spend 25 years on military bases in God-forsaken lands, including a decade being shot at by hajis in Iraq or Afghanistan.
  2. Purpose is to keep America safe, protect the free world.
  3. Motivation is patriotism, honor, ethic of self-sacrifice.
  4. Provide jobs for millions of Americans across every state in the Union.
  5. Attended mainly state schools and military academies.
  6. Provide upward mobility for millions of America's lower and middle class youth.
  7. Work in the industry that won World War II and the Cold War.
A certain journalist has been blogging about the career path of a particular Industry A man.  This guy spent 2 years in the White House, and now he's going to work for City Group, the big bank which he happened to have helped bail out while in the White House.  Name's Peter Orszag.   Fine, the guy's a schmuck.    I'm not about to defend a guy like this.  

But then the same journalist, who should know better, pointing to an article in the Boston Globe, has the audacity to compare Orszag's situation to the the career path of some of our nation's finest military leaders.   And I say that's just plain wrong.

It's no secret that in retirement, generals go to work for defense contractors, they serve on corporate boards.    Well, who the hell is supposed to serve on the  boards of our defense contractors?   Wall Street twerps like Orszag?    I mean seriously, if it's not long-serving demonstratively patriotic military minds who go on to serve on the boards of defense industry firms, then who?

Because the alternative is to see America's corporate board rooms filled with yet more self-serving ivy-educated MBAs and Wall Street bankers.  It really makes you wonder about the motivation of liberal elite media when you read this kind of thing.    The journalist pointed out something really interesting on his blog: "Until this past week," the journalist wrote, "the Post had not devoted a single newspaper item to the Orszag-Citigroup story."  Whereas the Boston Globe ran a three-thousand-word "investigative report" about the military's revolving door, for weeks, no major newspaper thought the Orszag story worth so much as a paragraph.   One revolving door is considered newsworthy, the other isn't.   Does one detect a double-standard here?   (If I was conspiratorially minded I would ask whether the liberal news media is plotting to clear some more space in corporate board rooms for their ivy-league educated brothers.)
One simply cannot compare the paths of Industry A and Industry B leaders through their respective  so-called "revolving doors."   Industry A is comprised of individuals who had the opportunity to attend the country's finest universities, and then elected to apply their skills and knowledge first by cashing out on Wall Street, all the whilst dining in Manhattan's finest restaurants.  This career path sometimes includes a few years networking with lawmakers at Georgetown cocktail parties.   Corrupt?  You be the judge of that.

On the other hand, Industry B is led by uniformed men and women, who, generally lacking the former group's privileges, have elected to dedicate the better part of their careers to the service of their country.  They endure years of discomfort on military bases, dodge mortar fire and IEDs in Iraq or Afghanistan, and live in cramped naval vessels.  Invariably they live away from their families for months at a time.  For the sake of our country, they put themselves in harm's way.   If finally, at the end of a long and distinguished military career, the finest among this latter group get invited to sit on this or that corporate board, perhaps standing a chance of earning some real money, that's a problem?  Please.

The elite liberal media has no business complaining about the military's revolving door unless it is prepared to look at its own reflection in the other one.
* DoF blog originally incorrectly identified Sec Fear Malcolm P. Stag III as the author of this post.  The post is by Mr. Frank Aaronson.   As explained here, the opinions represented in this post represent only the views of the author, not the United States Department of Fear.

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