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Tuesday, September 14, 2004

"War is a Racket"

This is the title of a paper authored by Smedley Darlington Butler (1881-1940), a Major General in the United States Marine Corps. Adjusting for different conditions and different worth of the dollar at the time, I think it is highly relevant, in just about its every sentence, to the events of today.

Writes Butler,

The normal profits of a business concern in the United States are six, eight, ten, and sometimes twelve percent. But war-time profits – ah! that is another matter – twenty, sixty, one hundred, three hundred, and even eighteen hundred per cent – the sky is the limit. All that traffic will bear. Uncle Sam has the money. Let's get it.

Of course, it isn't put that crudely in war time. It is dressed into speeches about patriotism, love of country, and "we must all put our shoulders to the wheel," but the profits jump and leap and skyrocket – and are safely pocketed.
Could we word it better today? Not me, that for sure. At any rate, I think General Butler was a smart man, and I think we could all learn a thing or two from his wisdom.

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