Holiday Growls

Long holiday weekends are times to get away from the problems of the world and just relax and, in my case, try not to growl too much.

I tried during this past Memorial Day Weekend, but to no avail.

Two stories got me growling in my normal workday mode: one in the New York Times; one from the Associated Press.

The Times story focused on the debate at West Point over the U.S. foreign policy of counterinsurgency used in Iraq and Afghanistan during the past decade that has cost more than 6,000 American lives and $1 trillion and gotten us, well, I have no idea what.

The director of West Point's military history program and a combat commander in Iraq in 2006, Col. Gian Gentile, is quoted saying that whatever the policy got us was "not worth the effort."

The head of West Point's social services department and a top advisor to Gen. David Petraeus, Col. Michael Meese, however, says the effort was "broadly successful."

The Times article notes that there is much more open debate at West Point than at the Pentagon because the academy prides itself on academic freedom, at least implying that there is much less open debate at the Pentagon.

What gets me growling is the thought that our over-eager go-to-war anywhere, anytime attitude -- which clearly contributed greatly to the national recession and all the pain that caused and still causes at home -- is driven more by politics than by sound military planning.

You can read the full Times piece here.

The AP story focused on the fact that profits and salaries at major U.S. companies broke records last year even as the economy continued to crawl toward some semblence of recovery.

Big-company CEOs averaged $9.6 million in compensation, up 6 percent from the prior year, while corporate profits rose 16 percent.

But stockholders didn't do as well: their return was just 2 percent.

Oh, and the rest of us? Median pay rose 1 percent, which is less than the rate of inflation. And the average worker would have to work 244 years to earn what the average boss of a big company makes in one.

I don't suggest that successful people and successful businesses shouldn't profit from their efforts. But the number of jobs lost, benefits cut, salaries reduced and futures up-ended for so many American workers doesn't square with the numbers at the top of the pyramid.

I'm not sure what the answer is. I'm just sure the questions make me growl.

You can read the full AP story here and maybe do some growling of your own.