A 'Do-Nothing Congress'? That’s a Compliment!


"No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session."

—Gideon J. Tucker

The 113th Congress was publicly chided by Washington's chiding classes for not getting much done last year -- that is, for not passing very many laws. Indeed, 2013 was the "least productive" Congress in 66 years.

Isn't it nice to read some good news for a change?

It might be a wonderment to some of us who never served in the military, why so much time and effort and care is given to seemingly little things like shining shoes and polishing brass and picking up litter. Sure, it's nice to have shined shoes and polished brass and a clean base, but shouldn't those guys (and gals) be out there practicing with their rifles and tanks and aircraft carriers and stuff?

If that last paragraph gave you Sudden Column Topic Change Whiplash, bear with me for a moment longer -- we'll get back to our Do-Nothing Congress here momentarily.

For all of recorded civilized history, militaries have been largely comprised of fit young men. Now I can tell you from personal experience that even fit young men in civilian life (or even not-so-fit young men) will get themselves into all kinds of trouble when they're bored. In the military, the problem is exacerbated by elements not always found in civilian life, such as trained aggression, easily available "camp followers" (women), cheap liquor, nice paychecks, low living expenses, and of course heavy equipment such as tanks and aircraft carriers.

If you let a crowd like that get too bored very often, there's going to be trouble. You can't keep them in the barracks all the time, and training is too expensive to go on all the time -- not to mention all the wear and tear on the heavy equipment. So it's a smart military which keeps a major peacetime focus on those "little things" like keeping their uniforms sharp. General George S. Patton, a fierce warrior to be sure, was also a martinet right down to his bones. He famously insisted soldiers in his Third Army wear their ties at all times, even during seemingly unimportant events like the relief of Bastogne.

At least if the movie version of Patton is to be believed, and I do.