The Division of Labor

If it’s good enough to get you your Birkenstocks and 100% organic hemp t-shirts, then just maybe it’s good enough to defend your life…

Now and then, someone posts a comment to one of my previous entries that just simply screams out for its own separate posting. In this case, the winner is: Kyle Bennett. The post in question deals with the biggest lie you’ve ever heard in connection with the war: that those who condemn it can play Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hide by supporting the troops.

There are other lies, too. For instance, there’s the lie that it’s hypocritical to support the war if you’re not personally over there prosecuting it. Tom Harper comments:

OK, we know what you think of
people who oppose the Iraqi war and say they support the troops. What
do you think of people who support the war — often to the point of
slandering people who are against it — but haven’t enlisted? People
who are doing all their fighting at their keyboard instead of in the
trenches? (I know you have a military background.)

Just wondering.

And Kyle provides the quintessential unassailable argument:

Bullshit, Tom. 

You want to eat, don’t you? So why aren’t you down on the farm
picking corn and slopping the hogs? You seem happy to use a computer,
but do you drive down to the Intel plant to build chips, then over to
Redmond to work on that operating system?

You arbitrarily assert that defense is the one thing that shouldn’t be
done by those best at it, but by everyone for himself, else they’re
hypocrites of some kind. You’re completely transparent in that you only
hold that standard for things you disapprove of. You probably think
that if I eat meat, I should have to do the butchering myself – but
then are perfectly happy to let somebody else harvest your bean sprouts
and make your Birkenstocks and 100% organic hemp t-shirts for you.

Your question is beyond manipulative and dishonest, it’s downright
immoral. In the process of flailing about for some way, no matter how
illogical, to discredit any support for the war, you toss out a primary
moral imperative in the context of a society of human beings, which is
the trading value for value.

The best way to achieve anything you value, whether it be lunch or
clothes or defense, is to do whatever thing you do best and trade that
effort for the efforts of someone else who is really good at doing the
thing you value. Being against the war does not necessarily make you
some kind of communist. Using your particular argument in opposing it
just might.

The end.

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  1. Karl Olson on March 12, 2006 at 03:31

    Re Kyle Bennett and the Division of Labor:

    OK, so the destiny of some Americans is to wear the uniform in Iraq and the destiny of others is to keyboard away safe at home. Why is it somehow illegitimate to point that out?

    Everyone in America remains free to express an opinion on any issue, but there is no right to have your opinion respected. Respect is earned.

    If a war is worth fighting (or continuing to right), anyone can fairly ask why? And if it's OK for "other people" to do the actual fighting, but not for you (assuming you are eligible), then why not is a legitimate subject for public discussion.

    If you are eligible to serve and support the war, you have an obligation at least to consider [just consider] serving. The results of your deliberations are relevant to public discussion.

    If you support the war only if "other people" actually fight it, then you really support neither the war nor President Bush.

    Because it's precisely that attitude that breeds cynicism all over America.

  2. Richard Nikoley on March 12, 2006 at 11:53


    Unless I'm misunderstanding, you completed your contract and freely exercised your unilateral choice to reenlist or go home, and you chose home.

    Unless I'm misunderstanding, you got paid precisely in accordance with the original terms of your service contract,.

    Unless I'm misunderstanding, it was your original choice to enlist in the first place.

    Unless I'm misunderstanding, there's absolutely not a single problem in the world, here.

  3. Ugly American on March 12, 2006 at 10:43

    I can relate to Tom’s opinion. I’ll never forget sitting in a shit hole called Assembly Area Tompson about 20 clicks from the Saudi/ Iraq IZB during the air ops leading up to the ground war. I had a copy of the Stars and Stripes, and there was a picture of two fat fucks sitting in a diner somewhere in the States, wearing CAT baseball hats and reading a newspaper with the big headlines reading, “WAR” on the front page. One of these guys went on to say how much he “supported” the troops. Good for him, I thought.

    By the time I finally got to come home to the States, all the confetti parades and hoopla were over, and I was just as happy not to have had to go through that patriotic bullshit circus show.

    I was sitting in a bar and someone noticed my haircut. “Where you over there man?” the guy asked. But before I could answer, he was already talking to someone else…and understandable; she was prettier than me. Still, his attitude is one I encountered often. The SHOW was over.

    Here’s my point; WAR is not a wonderful once and a life time experience. It sucks. And the whole time you are fighting in it, you are NOT thinking about your fucking country. You ARE thinking about staying alive and looking after your buddies. Fuck all the well meaning civilian ass wipes back in the States leading the cheering section. That’s how it really is. If you don’t believe me, its your problem. But the fact that last week, according to the Stars and Stripes, 71 % of the service men and women in Iraq, think its time to close up shop should tell you something.

    You want to “support” the troops? Then start demanding that they come home. After all, that’s what THEY want.

  4. Ugly American on March 12, 2006 at 23:39

    A very smug retort. Still, you’re right. I went into Army of my own free will, a hardcore young Republican who earnestly believed that America should whip the living shit out of any nation who stood in our way.

    Eight years and one war later, I finally grew up. It’s not that I’m anti-war, it’s just that people like yourself make me wish for an insane moment that they WOULD reinstate the draft.

  5. Dusitn Dollar on March 13, 2006 at 00:42


    If you have been in the military and more specifically, the Army or Marines, you're words carry substantial weight. Otherwise, it sounds like your raving sir. I don't know your military background, I'm just pulling the tidbit from Tom Harper's comment. If you served in the Air Force, like me, or the Navy then you know its quite different than the Army or Marines. At any rate, having a military background, you should be at least concerned with how much the "average joe" doesn't care about the war.

    I don't understand how you can compare the military to just another job. Last time I checked, farming didn't include shooting and being shot at. Neither did sitting at a chair inside a cubicle at Intel. Yes, there are civilian jobs out there that are seriously life threatening such as in law enforcement and high rise construction. But, as far as I know, non of them are binding contracts forcing you to continue under penalty of death. Everyone who serves in the military signs the contract knowing the consequences. You are making a weak argument here. Signing those dotted lines is a giant step. One that takes guts. Guts that many Americans don’t have.

    Americans are rebellious by nature and constantly questioning the leaders and their decisions EVEN in time of war! I can’t believe I must assert the right of dissent in America. I thought it was known by most to be a patriotic duty. To call bullshit when things APPEAR to be bullshit. Even if there is no bullshit. That's what makes this country so great!

    You support the war AND the service men and women. Why can't I support the service men and women and still be opposed to the war? The grunts are there because they are told to be there. Surely you know? Being a grunt you have no control of the situation. Lets not confuse Iraq and Afghanistan either. I supported the Afghan war and its nearly impossible to find someone who didn't. Iraq is different. Am I right or wrong? Soldiers do their job and do it well. That job is to put their life on the line during a war. I have tremendous respect for that. However, it is our job here in the States to make sure that war is just. I would ask you to refrain from calling me a communist or any other such name.


  6. Richard Nikoley on March 13, 2006 at 12:00

    "No, you are wrong. The troops are just doing their job. A person can very easily oppose a President and a war and still support the troops."

    I understand that for some people with their heads in mush, there is no distinction to make between doing one's job professionally and morally supporting the purpose of their job.

    Nonetheless, there is such a distinction and I am making it.

    "One big problem with the right wing is that they assume us whiney Liberal types who oppose the war actually think terror and bombing and killing by insurgents and their buddies is okay."

    Well, if it were true that you commies did think all this terrorism were just dandy, or, even if it weren't true but "the right wing," did actually believe it was true, it would certainly lend you more credibility, wouldn't it? But, alas, it's not true in either case.

    "Personally, I find it all reprehensable. The "civilized" west is supposed to set the example. Torture is only one example of how this example has been blown away. Hearts and minds… thats how you win people over, not invasion and occupation, and civil war."

    Nobody is stopping you from trying to win hearts and minds. I'm happy to leave that to you and your commie friends. Me? I just want to kill those who have preemptively threatened to kill me.

    Personally, I think it's really, really stupid and dangerous to want to "win over" people like that. But, you're welcome to it. I think the body of one of those morons was just found in a shoolyard with a bullet in his head the other day.

    You know what? I just can't muster an ounce of sympathy for the guy. He refused to use the brain that nature provided him and paid the price for it. I just hope he didn't pass on his stupidity genes to progeny beforehand.

  7. Dr. John on March 13, 2006 at 05:46

    Surprise, surprise . Intelligent people disagree over this war. They make good arguments. They do the best to win people over to theor point of view.O'd rather read about Roses.

  8. Glyn (Zaphod) Evans on March 13, 2006 at 06:15

    No, you are wrong. The troops are just doing their job. A person can very easily oppose a President and a war and still support the troops.

    One big problem with the right wing is that they assume us whiney Liberal types who oppose the war actually think terror and bombing and killing by insurgents and their buddies is okay.

    Personally, I find it all reprehensable. The "civilized" west is supposed to set the example. Torture is only one example of how this example has been blown away. Hearts and minds… thats how you win people over, not invasion and occupation, and civil war.

  9. Dr. Forbush on March 13, 2006 at 15:58

    It's interesting that this argument tends to ignore the fact that soldiers have enlisted to defend our country. Then, at least for some soldiers, they have been used in an offensive and offensive action toward a sovereign nation that had little or nothing to do with the protection of our country. In fact, many have argued that this action has actually served as a recruiting tool to attract even more terrorists to the terrorist cause.

    I would say based on this information that those who are in favor of this aggressive action should enlist, easing the need for soldiers who once believed that they had enlisted to defend America.

  10. KushLiberty on March 13, 2006 at 11:08

    That was absolutely uproarious from an economist's perspective… thanks for re-posting those comments.

  11. CSC5502D on March 13, 2006 at 15:54

    Sounds like Ugly is a big fat puss to me. He goes in all hardcore, and then because he had to do something hard that made him suffer, his whole view changed.

    So, in other words, as soon as it gets hard, it's not worth it to him.

    I'm glad you're out Ugly. I wouldn't have wanted you covering my ass out there (yes, I've been in too and yes it was the same period). I'm just surprised you didn't turn and haul ass the first time a bullet went past you.

  12. Billy Beck on March 14, 2006 at 09:26

    Just exactly what "sort of war" did they sign up for?

  13. Jersey McJones on March 14, 2006 at 06:30

    Division of labor, my ass.

    #1: National Guardsmen DID NOT sign up for this sort of war.

    #2: The sleazy right is not even paying taxes for their war, but rather leaving that to our kids even though our kids will not benfit from this debacle.


  14. Kyle Bennett on March 14, 2006 at 15:27

    Maybe my idealism is unfounded and does not benefit me in anyway. Maybe I should be an opportunist only concerned with my own survival and preserving my elevated way of American life.


    Maybe some day in the distant future, when you're lying on your deathbed and wondering where it all went, you'll remember how very close you came to the truth on this day.

  15. Dustin Dollar on March 14, 2006 at 14:23

    I guess I yearn to be the idealistic hero who is "sucker punched" then gets back up and kicks some ass. The Afghan war was a great example of that. Iraq was not. Maybe my idealism is unfounded and does not benefit me in anyway. Maybe I should be an opportunist only concerned with my own survival and preserving my elevated way of American life. I’m not criticizing, but that’s where I stand.

  16. Kyle Bennett on March 15, 2006 at 05:48

    an expeditionary war of choice

    I'll say this, your handlers are good with the turn of phrase.

  17. Richard Nikoley on March 15, 2006 at 07:43

    "This is great…this is the legacy of a capital driven economy."

    Indeed. It is great in the respects you outline.

    Past wars were fought predominantly by slaves (not volunteers and you falsely cite) and I don't know how their socio-economic status mittigates the reality that they were forced to fight.

    Today's wars are fought with volunteers, by people who make an individual choice to fight and are paid for their services.

    So, I guess you're saying that a collectivist society of slaves being sent off to die for their fellow citizens is preferable to a society where such decisions are left to everyone's individual choice.

  18. Jersey McJones on March 15, 2006 at 05:06

    Billy, never in our history have we been so back-handed, so sleazy as to fight an expeditionary war of choice with the NAtional Gaurd. Never. People in the guard expect they will be called for natural disasters, or in case of a real war (we are not and have not been at war over the past 5 years) when there are not enough regular standing to fight.

    Only a moron wouldn't know that.


  19. celticbuddha on March 15, 2006 at 07:26

    This is great…this is the legacy of a capital driven economy. Generations who have no social conscience or social responsibility, only the responsibility of the "division of labor"..ain't my f'ng job!!! Who fought wars in the first 140 years of this nation…volunteers…not a professional army. What will our armies consist of in the future? Not the well off big daddy capitalist youth. Maybe we can outsource it. Or import Hispanics from Central America to fight our wars, or import Middle Easterner to do the job that is unseemly. (No need to try the Pacific Rim people as they will have already owned our asses for a while.) My fellow boomer generation members (Clinton, W. Bush) has instigated the decline of the nation that has progressed for many generations. And it looks like the subsecquent generations are inclined to propel the process along.

  20. Billy Beck on March 16, 2006 at 04:53

    "Only a moron wouldn't know that."

    Oh, yeah? Well, Google up "National Guard Korea", you fucking moron, and then come back here and we'll go over your bloody weezling on "war of choice".

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