Friday, December 10, 2004

Northwestern Grads Who Sleep Through Econ Class...

End up making fools of themselves:

A Tennessee newspaper reporter said yesterday he played a role in organizing the highly publicized exchange in Kuwait between Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and a soldier who asked him about the lack of armor on vehicles.

The question from Spc. Thomas Wilson of the Tennessee Army National Guard at a town-hall meeting during Rumsfeld's visit Wednesday was applauded by soldiers and appeared to throw the defense secretary off balance.

In the exchange, Wilson asked, "Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal" to armor vehicles "and why don't we have those resources readily available to us?"

Edward Lee Pitts, a Chattanooga Times Free Press reporter embedded with Wilson's unit, claimed credit for the question in an e-mail to colleagues yesterday.

....Pitts, who last week wrote a story about what he terms "hillbilly armor," boasted about his role, according to the e-mail. "I have been trying to get this story out for weeks," he wrote.

Pitts, who graduated from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism in 2002....

The Fly Under the Bridge Academy weeps for the wasted labors of the Economics faculty at that august institution.

Particularly for the Head of Undergraduate Economics Education who--the Academy knows with certainty--assures that Journalism majors, who are required to take at least one economics class, would be acquainted with the concept of scarce resources with alternative uses.

To wit, that in the early stages of the Iraq war the troops needed speed and mobility, which over-armored vehicles would preclude.

Now that the battlefield tactics have changed the U.S. military is welding extra armor to its vehicles. Some 22,000 to this point, with another 8,000 scheduled to be upgraded soon.

Bringing to mind the resourcefulness that is traditional with the U.S. military; such as the G.I. who dropped a note in General Omar Bradley's suggestion box in June of 1944. The note said, in effect, that rather than go over the hedgerows in rural Normandy--thus exposing tanks' vulnerable underside to Nazi rockets--we should weld V-shaped rams to the tanks, which would allow them to plough through those natural barriers.

And, wasn't this ironic, the Germans had helpfully left a store of steel behind on the beaches of Normandy as hedge hog tank traps which could be used by we "hillbillies" for just that purpose.

At least the economists at Northwestern have gained a bad example they can use to illustrate for their current students the perils of not studying.

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