110 Percenters

What does it mean to be elite?

Does it mean you give the most, or take the most?

Does it mean you gain the most influence, or does it mean you set a selfless example?

Does it mean you do your own job with particular excellence, lead others to do their best, or take on a job that no one else wants?

There seem to be a lot of people jostling for the title of “One Percenters” these days. The first to publicly claim it were “M.C.” bikers, some of whom sport patches on their cuts advertising “1%er” outlaw status. They believe they’re under constant pressure by the siege engines of society — and for those who deal methampetamines to junior high schoolers, they’re probably right.

There are hard-charging, upwardly mobile Americans who would like to think of themselves as besieged by our socialist alien Muslim of a President, a Manchurian candidate who got elected to the highest office in the land purely as a mechanism to destroy our economy, enslave white children and achieve a smoky, reverse apotheosis into anti-Christhood and bring about the End Times, as prophesied by Revelation which reads, “Verily, the Beast shall raise the marginal tax rate on middle American small businesswomen by enough inches that they writhe and wriggle in their despair, so that it becomes in his time nearly a tenth of what it was under the prophet Eisenhower and the economy descends flaming and yelping into a sulphurous, bubbling brimstone sea.”  They may be a bit deluded about that imaginary target on their chests.

There are the billionaire “job creators” currently sitting on top of $2 trillion, waiting it out and blaming welfare recipients for not paying enough taxes while one in five Americans remains jobless or underemployed in a stagnant economy where CEOs cheerfully rake in the pay of 753 LCD employees. They are elite enough that you don’t see them at the stores where you shop.

There’s Private First Class Joseph Snuffy, a pink-cheeked cavalry scout who almost made it through his Spur Run before he turned an ankle and couldn’t finish on time.  He healed up in time to deploy to Iraq, though, where he was assigned to drive a Stryker because he just wasn’t that sharp at dismounted fire and maneuver…

…then there’s Stephen “Turbo” Toboz, Jr., a navy SEAL who lost three liters of blood and his left lower leg when his team was ambushed on a lonely mountaintop 10,000 feet above sea level in Afghanistan. Despite bullet-shattered bones in his leg and foot, Turbo managed to destroy a machine gun position, rescue a fallen team mate and continue his mission, withdrawing only under orders from his team leader.

He refused morphine so that he could maintain an alert security posture. Unable to stand and under constant assault by gunfire, rockets and grenades, Turbo exfiltrated by crawling a mile on frostbitten hands and feet, engaging the enemy constantly until his team was secured and evacuated.

After evac, Turbo had his shattered leg amputated because it wouldn’t heal strong enough or fast enough to suit him. Then he rejoined his team — as a combat operator — with only one leg.

One Turbo leg.

A gang of One Percenters, commuting to work

Now sporting a Silver Star and a state of the art prosthesis, Turbo finally withdrew from the field because, as he puts it, “I was only 95 percent.

“I didn’t want to jeopardize anyone’s life because I couldn’t be 100 percent,” he said, “so that’s why I’m doing what I do now.”

What he does now is instruct SEAL operators. You can take a leg off the Turbo, but you can’t slow him down.

We all share in this society, some more than others because as Mr. Orwell said, “Some animals are more equal than others.” We all give some. Some of us give until it hurts. Some of us take until we’re caught. Most of us muddle along the best we can.

What percentage of us gave as much to our society as Turbo gave? One percent? One tenth of one percent? Or one ten-thousandth?

How many years of your taxes can you weight equally to the regular daily sacrifices of a military career undertaken in defense of your ability to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? I guess that depends on which one percent you’re in.

Dwight Eisenhower was a different kind of vet than Turbo. For one thing, he was an army general, not a navy petty officer. For another, he followed his military career by serving as President of the United States.

During “Ike’s”administration — and under a Republican Congress — the top marginal tax rate was a staggering 90 percent. This field trial of an astronomical tax rate on the highest income recipients had precisely none of the horrific consequences warmed of by our current Congressional brothel of billionaire apologists. With a 90 percent top marginal rate, U.S. unemployment remained consistently low, the economy grew steadily under the vast stimulus of building our interstate highway system, and the deficit was reduced from 71.4 percent of GDP to 60.4 percent of GDP.

Our current “trickle-up” tax plan features a top marginal rate of 35 percent. Reportable unemployment is over nine percent; the actual percentage of unemployed Americans is much higher than that. Economic growth currently benefits only the wealthiest Americans, while prosperity remains stagnant, negative or non-existent for the majority — and that’s just among we 99 Percent.

And the One Percent? Military families are on food stamps. Veteran unemployment is 11.5 percent in a job market that considers a combat tour and an honorable discharge “equivalent to a felony.” For the first time in history, your army’s suicide rate has eclipsed the civilian sector — and the rate among veterans is unchartable.

With another Veterans Day in our sights, who has the brass to consider themselves better than these people? Who thinks they give more?

Your U.S. Congress, which has been kicking the Returning Heroes Tax Credit and the Wounded Warriors Tax Credit (both of which incentivize businesses that hire veterans) desultorily back and forth between the multimillionaires in the House and the other multimillionaires in the Senate like blame-stained footballs.

Deathless corporate citizen Bank of America, who shrugged and paid a settlement of $20 million dollars (after soaking up $45 billion in TARP bailout funds) for having routinely foreclosed on forward-deployed military service members in violation of the the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney, who took his five draft deferments in a businesslike manner because he “had better things to do than to go to Vietnam.”

Billionaire-at-large and former Presidential candidate Donald Trump who, after attending New York Military Academy, applied for and received half a dozen draft deferments of three different descriptions.

Of course, they’ve all served their country as leaders, investors and “job creators” (a term invariably trotted out as though job creation were some charitable virtue, rather than a mechanism geared to profit).

Did a single one of them give more than Turbo?

How many “created jobs”  outweigh the sacrifice of a guy who pledged everything he had in him for your honor, dignity and personal security?

And he’s still at it today. Turbo’s not bitching about his taxes. He’s paying his dues — and a bunch of yours, too. After having already given so much, why does he keep at it?

“To give back, and hopefully help save one of my brothers’ lives,” he said. “If I can do that, it’s all worth it.”

Turbo is a real one percenter. And you know what? So is Joe Snuffy, who trooped up that C17 ramp and went abroad to do things for you that less than one percent of Americans would consider doing for any price.

This Veterans Day, maybe we should pause a moment to consider whether elite Americans are defined by how much they can manage to acquire — or by a turbocharged heart.

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  1. Holy cow. Turbo is *amazing*… and I’m glad he’s an instructor (was?)… passing that knowledge and that strength of character along to other young men (and women? Can a SEAL be a girl yet? I hope so…) is of passing importance. And PFC Snuffy also fits the definition of hero… an ordinary guy, doing extraordinary things. Private *First Class*, all right.

    I might know a few guys (and girls) like that personally. It makes me *very* proud to do so.

    For the record, my grandfather was just out of frame to the right in that iconic picture of Ike. To most people that knew him when I was alive, he was a pretty ordinary fellow, a weaver and a small engine mechanic working second shift at local plants… but in a box somewhere in Tennessee are a pair of Presidential Unit Citations… one of which he *never* talked about. I do not envy him the price he paid for those….. but I am very grateful that he and his band of brothers paid that price.

    And some paid more.

    And it upsets me greatly that some of these so-called elite get cranky about giving anything at all back to those who have paid so much and get paid so little…. when they have earned perhaps even more than *they* can afford.

    I’ve never served, and probably never will…. but damned if I won’t do what I can to support those who do, and those who did.

  2. well said.

  3. Glenn: Officially, no female SEALs. I haven’t heard if there are any unofficial. I’m kinda inclined to think the answer is “no”, simply because it’d be more challenging to hide someone going through BUDS than, say, someone who can function as a sniper. Officially, there are no female snipers. Unofficially, well…

    Besides, the navy is currently working on integrating female sailors into the Submarine service, and that has the very real possibility of blowing up in their faces. Bubble heads are rude, crude, and socially unacceptable BY NAVY STANDARDS. Seriously, _other sailors_ think these guys are over the line :).

  4. Rich Kirkpatrick says

    God Bless our protectors, Hero’s every one.

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