Posted by Lex, on May 13, 2008
The general power of an efficient market is that “all of us are smarter than any of us.” The more contributors to the market, the better it is able to price out the quality of goods on offer. The exception to that rule seems to be the court of public opinion – one of those few markets whose product quality actually improves even as the contribution pool grows smaller. In a small village, the general opinion of any man’s character tends to be more accurate than what the anonymity of a large city would permit. The same may be said to be true about warships, raised to an exponential factor. Sailors know sailors in ways that even their families do not.
Which lets me off the hook. You see, the cover story in this week’s San Diego Reader was written by a former sailor and aspiring journalist and was entitled “The Confessions of a phony Navy Wife.” It’s just plain, well: Ugly. Kid comes from a good family but tough background, doesn’t instantly get the rating she wants, is asked to do some hard work as a non-designated sailor and essentially decides she’s been used. This product of the self-esteem generation decides that she’ll use right back, effectively entering into a sham marriage with a former shipmate in order to defraud the Navy of $31,000. She gets caught, tearfully admits her fraud and (after having accused essentially all of her fellow shipmates of being serial adulterers) brazenly finishes thus:
There was a time when I was ashamed to be in the Navy. I thought that all the men were lying cheaters and all the women were sluts. I laughed at the thought of marriage and love. I was bitter with the things I had witnessed and bitter with myself. I see things clearly now. Bad people are not in the military. The military brings out the bad in them.
Well, no. No we don’t. We set very high standards, a lot of folks struggle under arduous conditions to meet them, most everyone eventually gets on board and a very few end up blaming the Navy for the ”bringing out the bad in them.”
When it was already there all along, silly.
I was going to really expend some effort on this, but all you have to do is get past the “you go, girl!” comments to hear what her shipmates – those who truly know her – have to say:
My experience with the military was stressful and hard and at times I thought it was unfair, but it was an extremely satisfying experience. I wouldn’t change anything about my time in the Navy. The choices we make and the experiences we go through shape who we are. As the NCIS officer pointed out to you, if you hadn’t joined the Navy “you should have been lying in a gutter somewhere.” So stop complaining about the experience; embrace and build off it.
Oh, there’s a great deal more. It’s not a pretty picture.
By the way, journalism? Great choice.