Windows on the World of Raymond Plank
Founder, Apache Corp
Vol. 2013 No. 4

“Figures Don’t Lie” But Politicians Do a Lot of Figuring 

2012 Country Estimates - Index Mundi


United States






314 Million

8 Million

84 Million

23 Million

6 Million


$15.66 Trillion

$247.9 Billion

$537.8 Billion

$107.6 Billion

$87.91 Billion

GDP Per Capita






Chart above shows several countries involved in current controversy; I have no clue whether U.S. subsidies to Israel and Egypt are included in their gross domestic products and thereby per capita income.  When personally active in Egypt, it was my understanding that their census did not include Egyptians working in the oil fields abroad, many of whom send money home to support their families.  My guess is that one hundred million Egyptians would be closer to the truth than the eighty-four million estimated. 

Such is also the case with illegal Mexicans working in the U.S. under false green cards, or none at all, and seeking to send funds back to Mexico and its banks, one run by Citigroup, former leader Sanford (Sandy) Weill, who was building the world’s largest financial conglomerate which acquired Mexico’s second largest bank to hold repatriated funds as also done in Egypt.

In both instances, jobs at higher wages abroad attract workers whose families remain behind.  With the population numbers in the smaller denominator and GDP in the numerator, the average income per capita increases and major lenders are more inclined to participate in loaning funds – the only thing which trumps that practice is to print money, make it available to lenders at very low interest rates, as in the housing collapse when the balloon provided by low cost, no down payment housing bursts.  See WSJ September 12, 2013 article titled, “How to Create Another Housing Crisis.” Bells of hell, we aren’t yet clear of “the last crisis,” in which those who make decent down payments and meet monthly mortgage requirements are screwed by those builders and financial institutions who enable a “made in U.S.A.” leverage program to threaten global financial deflation.

Syria vs. Libya: Syria population twenty three million versus Libya six million.  Even as a million or two million have fled to neighboring countries, the Iran supported Syria mayhem expands among its neighboring states calling on world organizations to prevent death by starvation and disease while fleeing bullets and poison gases.

With respect to Libya, income is reflected to be about two and a half times greater per capita than Syria except that Libya, rich in oil, does not trickle down funds to the average Joe and family near death while at Benghazi, Libya, despite weeks of warnings, Americans were killed while the State Department team headed by Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, ignored the threats.  Is everyone running for election?  Are our representatives picking their collective noses, and wiping their greedy hands on Americans?

As a former heavy bomber pilot in World War II whose side duties consisted in part of researching and writing up medal citations for our bomber groups, neither I nor any crew member and ground personnel felt any reticence to kill the enemy or be killed.  Exposed to over 1,200 hours of combat pilot time in the Asia Pacific war with Japan, death stalked us at every turn in the air, where we were shot at and on the ground where we were shot at and also bombed, caught malaria and did not get enough food, island hopping from seven bases, losing weight from 170 to 135 pounds, dropping over 300,000 pounds of TNT on enemy positions, and somehow returned to American food and ladies while obtaining my college degree under the G.I. Bill, and starting a small business all in 1946 – and pursuing lifetime learning ever since. 

WWII was the last war that America declared, putting our full weight of the U.S. behind world confrontations where war was not declared including Korea, and Vietnam, and two on-going wars in Iraq, and Afghanistan plus forty to fifty “brush fire” engagements into which Americans were enticed via the National Guard, joining the Reserves, or responding to constant, continuing recruitment.

Figures vary widely on the number of men and women in uniform, and do not include people who have provided services in foreign lands for construction of war damage, psychological services, as performed by my daughter, Pamela, at U.S. bases, and Special Forces in Britain.

The figures I have obtained from a variety of sources differ widely.   My hat is off to Dr. and Congressman Ron Paul of Texas, who has both experienced war, developed and presented data, which also varies somewhat from that noted above.  We agree in principle, and on certain objectives among which I do not include starting a third party - Libertarian. 

We have military personnel in 148 countries, with 662 overseas bases large enough to count in 38 countries. 

Total men and women on active duty 1,430,985 of which on land are 1,327,888 and “Afloat” 103,097. 

Having read several places that our military expenditures as a “peace-loving nation” exceed the aggregate expenditures of the rest of the world combined, the following are my thoughts.

    1.   Too much war power concentrated in the hands of our president as commander in chief. 

a.       Action – No more undeclared wars.

b.   Wars – Unless declared, it is not appropriate to do so with the sanction of the Speaker of the House (Boehner presently) and the endorsement of Senator John McCain of Arizona, defeated presidential candidate in 2008.


2.    Term limits:  one six year term for President, U.S. Senators twelve years, and three four year terms for Members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

    Change the name from the Department of Defense back to the Department of War.  Why continue to kid ourselves?  We are not believed throughout the world.

I would call your attention to the Opinion Section of the WSJ September 12, 2013 headed “The Vital Link of Education & Prosperity” an important piece. 

I was pleased this week to watch the CSpan hearing on the nomination of Caroline Kennedy to become our Ambassador to Japan.  There are two connections, the first of which goes back nearly two decades.  The Kennedy Library with the support of the Boston Globe, has hosted the Pen Hemingway event at which the first book awards are selected, and reviewed for the top five awards.  Those annual events have been attended by Ucross Foundation’s President and Executive Director, Sharon Dynak.  A number of the top five over the years have been granted Ucross Foundation fellowships, which have contributed recognition and funds earning Pulitzer Prizes, MacArthur “Genius” awards, plus a number of Tony’s, in which Caroline Kennedy’s supportive participation has been important.  Having attended two Kennedy Library events, the participation and response was astounding.  Nice going, Sharon.

Among the Senators attending the Caroline Kennedy’s hearing was my Wyoming Republican Senator, John Barrasso, for whom I’m pleased to have voted and to admire.  He was complimentary, asked excellent questions, largely on improving trade between Japan and the U.S., so important with its own abundance of underground resources and four-legged meat animals.

Senator Barrasso is also a medical doctor; with a pedigree you would enjoy noting.  Also participating in the hearings is U.S. Senator and unsuccessful candidate against Obama in 2008, John McCain.  His questions of Caroline Kennedy centered on Okinawa, a Japanese island on which the U.S. has a sizable military base.  Senator McCain spoke forwardly on U.S. withdrawal from Okinawa, but slipped into his closing commentary that our occupying troops might better be positioned (I inferred overseas), possibly to preserve his strong military stance, which favored U.S. action against Syria. 

One might ask why does the U.S. have troops either in Okinawa, or in Japan, or nearby South Korea, or England, or Australia?

Preparedness for undeclared war is a very conflicted proposition.  During a given football game’s frequent long “thirty second time outs” the marines want their own museum and more recruits, the Navy, the Air Force, the Army, NASA, all pursue oversize pieces of an overcooked pie.

Nor do we need multibillion-dollar aircraft flying at many times the speed of sound unless we are going to hunt satellites, which in my opinion should not be our business.  It it’s true that the U.S. puts more money into its military than the rest of the world combined that should be frightening to Americans as it is to the rest of the world.

Thank you, R.P.