I just watched an eye opening documentary about the national debt on Netflix. Yes, it's a Saturday night, and yes I am bored waiting around for the next part of my training to roll around, but I don't regret taking the time to watch this film. I just wish the DVD was cheaper so more people would see it....maybe if it was subsidized by the federal government... That could be worth it just for the irony, but is probably as likely to happen as my pre-voting open-book Constitution quiz idea.
I don't want to rehash all of the amazing points it made; there's no way I could do justice to how well the creators of the film presented the material. However, I did want to share my two personal takeaways from the movie:
- I would support a Balanced Budget Amendment to the constitution or any politician whose promises and track record show he/she would make balancing the government's budget the highest priority. With that in mind, I support Mitt Romney for president in 2012 for his stance on fiscal responsibility.
- I will continue to save what I can, especially at this time in my life when my truly necessary expenditures make up only a third of what I earn.
- I will never go into debt except to buy a modest home when the time is right (i.e. when I'm not required to live on base).
That's all I've got. Great film. Watch it. Vote like you learned something. Just to drive the overall message home, here's a related SNL clip:
The coolest, most interesting documentary I've ever seen:
Maybe it's because I was thinking of becoming a test pilot (now decided), maybe it's because I'm in a grad level aircraft structures class. I loved every minute of this.
This 2003 Oscar-winning documentary by Errol Merris was recommended to me a few months ago, and after finally getting around to it I'd recommend it to anyone with an interest in politics or how modern warfare is conducted.
To summarize, here are the 11 lessons:
- Empathize with your enemy
- Rationality will not save us
- There's something beyond one's self
- Maximize efficiency
- Proportionality should be a guideline in war
- Get the data
- Belief and seeing are both often wrong
- Be prepared to reexamine your reasoning
- In order to do good, you may have to engage in evil
- Never say never
- You can't change human nature
You'll have to watch the movie to see how historical circumstances illustrated each lesson, but I'll mention a couple things I got from the film.
The first idea it really brought home to me was how close we actually were to nuclear war, I felt a greater appreciation of what the world went through during what McNamara called "a very hot" war. To think how close "rational" human beings could get to initiating that kind of catastrophe is sobering.
It also gave me more respect for men and women who are given such great responsibility by the American people, not in the sense that they are on some greater plane of understanding, but respect in that they are just like everyone else - fallible and prone to mistakes - except in the huge weight of responsibility that is put on their shoulders.
The final and most motivating point to me was that even though McNamara felt in there was a higher purpose to be served (he left a very lucrative position at Ford Motor Co. after only five weeks to accept the position as SecDef that he didn't feel qualified for and paid much less) and strived to do good, he admitted to making mistakes. He stated that any honest military commander would admit to making mistakes, and mistakes in their profession costs lives.
While I don't see myself ever in a similar situation in terms of scale, it is likely that in my career I will be expected to make decisions that cost lives. After listening to McNamara, I feel like it's more necessary then ever to work to prepare myself for that responsibility and to learn from his experiences and the experiences of others. Then when that moment comes, I will be able to make a decision that I'm willing to live the rest of my life with.