Friday, January 4, 2013

Opinion Column 2012 NOLD: With simplified tax plan and economic benefits for all, ‘FairTax’ is a no-brainer

Do you want a simple tax system that will eliminate the IRS as well as income, capital gains, payroll, estate, gift, social security, Medicare and Medicaid taxes, and give you the power to pay taxes how you see fit?

How about one that will not disenfranchise the poor or overburden the wealthy? How about a tax system that is completely constitutional, creates jobs and will double the size of the U.S. economy in less than 15 years? I’m not arguing about race, poor versus rich or left versus right. I’m going present to you a tax system that will satisfy all, and make America more prosperous than ever before.

“FairTax” and the information presented in this column were presented to me in “The Fair Tax Book,” written by former Rep. John Linder and talk show host Neal Boortz. The book has insight beyond our current tax system and its method was introduced in a bill to Congress (H.R. 25 in the House, and S. 25 in the Senate) in 1999. It has been reintroduced every year since.
Our current tax system is derived from the 16th Amendment, which is used with very ill intentions. It is manipulated by lobbyists and congressmen for personal gain.
Technically, under the current system, only 52 percent of all income earners pay 100 percent of income taxes. Congressmen use this tax system to create class warfare by telling certain constituents they will get a tax break if they vote for them. Plus, they appease certain powerful corporations that will fund their campaigns if they promise to give them tax breaks. Even those who think they are getting away with not having to pay income taxes still pay what is called an embedded tax.
Corporate taxes are just a way for the government to disguise how much we are paying in taxes, and a way to tax those who don’t technically pay income taxes. Corporations unfairly pass taxes down to the consumer by embedding them in their products, also known as an embedded tax. Essentially, an embedded tax is a tax that you pay when you buy any consumer item and thus freeing the corporation from the taxes they are supposed to pay by forwarding them on to you.
Take a bag of cookies, for example. A bag of cookies needs ingredients, and those who produce the ingredients pay taxes. So do those who ship the ingredients, those who make the trucks, those who produce the gas for the trucks, the company that sells the cookies … You get the point. Guess who all these taxes are passed on to? You, the consumer.
On average, 22 percent of what you pay for in a consumer item goes to the government. According to Harvard economics professor Dale Jorgenson, this money covers all of those taxes passed on to you. Add that to income tax, not to mention social security and Medicare taxes, and you are paying the government more than your fair share of taxes.
Now, the FairTax would do away with income taxes and, in turn, embedded taxes. Companies would no longer have to keep their prices high to compensate for the taxes they have to pay. How do I know this? Because if businesses would like to cash in on the extra money, simple economics would prevail through what is called underpricing.
If one company tries to keep prices high to cash in on the extra money without an embedded tax, other companies will under price them to appeal to a wider audience. This will drive prices down approximately 22 percent.
However, we all know that a government can’t run on air. So, what exactly is the FairTax? It’s a 23 percent “inclusive” federal consumption tax on all goods levied at the retail level – once and only once. A 23 percent “inclusive” tax would mean that a $100 good would cost the consumer $130. Why? If a manufacturer wants $100 for its product, they must charge $130 in order to pay 23 percent to the government.
The price you see on the sales tag is the price you will pay (excluding state sales taxes). Essentially, 23 percent of that price will go to the government. This may seem high, but remember you no longer have a 22 percent embedded tax and you are taking home your whole paycheck without your income being taxed.
What about the poor, you ask? Don’t worry. The FairTax has what is called a prebate. A prebate in the form of a check would be sent to a family or individual every month based on poverty level analysis done every year.
This prebate would cover the taxes on all goods considered the necessities of life such as food, gas and clothing. So, all their money could be spent up to the poverty level tax free. Yet, this doesn’t just apply to only the poor, it applies to the rich and poor alike. It covers everyone to the poverty line, which makes the tax progressive and completely fair.
Along with not unfairly taxing anyone, this tax will also create jobs by bringing businesses to America. Imagine a tax system that doesn’t force companies to pay outrageous taxes which make businesses go overseas. America’s current system does exactly that, but the FairTax won’t.
After the FairTax is enacted, companies can minimize costs and produce goods in America, which will be the only country in the world to not have a tax resembling corporate or income tax. Essentially, America would become a tax haven. All of those who move to America will be paying into our tax system for purchased goods, contributing to this great country.
As a nation, we spend $500 billion just trying to figure out how to file our taxes. That’s 18 percent of our GDP. The FairTax would do away with that. Those who get away with not paying any taxes, including illegal immigrants and drug traffickers will have to pay taxes on the goods they buy. It broadens the tax base without hurting the poor, or targeting the rich.
So, as the economy grows and the wealth of this nation increases, so will the number of eligible consumers. In turn, this leads to more goods being purchased, and more taxes being paid. Yet, you won’t see anyone complaining because they get to choose how they are taxed. It is estimated that our economy would grow by 10.5 percent in the first year of FairTax alone.
In the end, you, the consumer, will be able to pay taxes how you want to. What other tax plan can grant the United States of America the ability to fund every program they have now – including social security and Medicare – while increasing the size of our economy and creating jobs?
I encourage you to go to and read “The FairTax Book” by Boortz and Linder. You will not regret a single word you read. Simply put, the FairTax is more American than apple pie and football. It’s a no-brainer.

Opinion Column 2012 NOLD: Free speech shapes the world, should be fought for

Freedom of speech is an inherent human right, and the best expression of this freedom comes in the form of an opinion. According to Webster’s Dictionary, an opinion is described as a “view, judgment or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter.”

Opinions are beliefs based on emotions or facts, and can be supported by arguments. However, two separate, and possibly opposite, opinions can be derived from the same set of arguments or facts. Opinions have shaped our world and will continue to shape the world in which we live through protests, casual conversations, civil uprisings and, of course, newspapers.

Past opinions, among many, include the idea of democracy. The democratic government that is implemented in America today was derived from the idea of direct democracy employed in Greek society in the fifth century B.C. The opinion that this form of government was ideal led to the representative democracy that runs our country today. When the colonies first started to form, and settlements began to spring up on the east coast of the Americas, the civil populous was ruled by a monarchy. A king or a queen had the final say in the legislative decisions that affected the colonies. After some time with a new name and identity, the Americans decided they wanted a government of their own. It was, in their opinion, better to be a democracy than be ruled by a monarchy. Their opinion challenged the traditional way of thinking, and without such opinions this great nation in which we live would not have been realized.
Great thinkers of the past who strove to put their opinions on paper allowed such change to happen. A great example of this can be read in Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense.” The opinion that democracy is greater than monarchy and that the colonies deserved to rule themselves was supported by many separate, yet powerful arguments. Subsequently, those arguments came to fruition. So powerful was this opinion, that Paine, Ben Franklin, George Washington and many other brave men fought for the right to have such an opinion. The founding fathers had such insight that they believed it was necessary to allow the freedom of speech and freedom of the press. They allowed future generations to freely state their opinions, which promoted intellectual growth and change in America.
Presently, opinions that have caught the media’s attention and have created some great pieces of writing include theOccupy Wall Street movement, the Arab Spring movement and the Tea Party movement. These men, women, government and state workers across the globe have the courage, and more importantly the right, to voice their opinions via protests in the streets or parks, and in the capitals of countries across the globe. Yet, all these movements are only opinions. Inspired by past movements, turmoil in the Middle East and economic downturn, these movements have arguments to back them. However, for every argument, there is a counter argument, which pits multitudes of people against each other via written word, protest and, unfortunately, violent conflict. Both sides have the right to share their opinions, and, as heated as the protests have become, or as much as one side would like to squash the opinion of the adversary, they should each be accepted as mere opinions and given the right to be voiced.
Fortunately, we are in America, and our opinions are protected in the Bill of Rights. Voicing our opinions is a right, and it’s an inherent human right for which our founding fathers fought and died. When countries fail to allow freedom of expression and, more importantly, speech, which leads to a multitude of opinions, we observe tyrannical dictatorships. Historical examples include communist Russia, Nazi Germany and communist China, the latter of the three still to this day suppresses those with different viewpoints from theirs.
When opinions are not welcome but burned, we have failed to expand our minds and world. When journalists are persecuted for putting forth their opinions, we have failed as a country and a democracy. An example of this is the detention of Ahmet Sik, a Turkish journalist who has served jail time along with others for his views in Turkey. As a journalist in Turkey, he comments, “We have so many red lines that we cannot cross,” he said, but “we should tolerate all the opposing ideas.”
However, we have not reached that point yet. Countries that have reached that point or have never embraced freedom of speech, and therefore have never expanded their ideology, include, but are not limited to, countries like Iran, Syria and China.
People, thinkers and writers are forced to conceal their independent ideas in these countries. As Americans, and more importantly the leaders of the free world, it’s our duty and honor to be able to peacefully show the world how to share many opinions in a way that will better society. So, I encourage you to be open to others opinions and, most importantly, to share yours.

Opinion Column 2012 NOLD: Voting is a privilege for contributing members of society

Our Bill of Rights lays out inherent rights that we have as human beings. The right to free speech, the right to worship whomever, the right to bear arms: the list goes on and on. The right to vote, however, wasn’t deemed an inherit one. In the Constitution only landowners could vote. The Founding Fathers believed that if you contributed to government, and in turn society, then you should get the privilege to participate in this great country’s government.

Obviously, with this restriction our Founding Fathers disenfranchised many people based on their race and gender, none of which was right. But they understood a concept that should be applied to today’s voting system. Only if you contribute to the betterment of a country can you vote in its elections.

The law for this process should look like this: anyone who receives more than 50 percent of his or her income from the government shall not vote in an election. Exceptions to this law include: a soldier receiving VA benefits for serving his or her country more than most, a senior citizen receiving benefits who has already put in 40 or more years of hard work and a disabled person who physically can’t work.
What does this mean for high school and college students? If a high school student makes $4,000 a year and takes no benefits personally, then he or she should be allowed to vote. A high schooler’s financial support mainly comes from his or her household. College students who take loans (which aren’t benefits because you have to pay them back) would be able to vote as long as they don’t take benefits equal to more than 50 percent of their income.
What about stay-at-home parents? If you have a spouse in the work force who makes enough money to support the family, allowing you to eschew government benefits, you would be allowed to vote, too.
Essentially the law states that everyone who receives more than half of their income from the government wouldn’t be allowed to vote, with the exception of the three aforementioned categories. In theory they’re taking more than what they’re contributing to society.
What would one consider contributing to society? If you make an income of $12,000 a year, and you receive $12,000 or more in benefits, you wouldn’t be allowed to vote. If you look at yourself like a subsidized project, and more than half of you is supported by someone other than yourself, then you wouldn’t be making the biggest contribution. Hence you wouldn’t be contributing to society, much less yourself.
Our society would be benefit greatly from this law. Able-bodied individuals would be forced off their couches and into the work force if they wanted to vote. Kids would work harder in school and strive harder to obtain better jobs so they, in turn, could participate in government.
Most importantly, it would keep those like the “Obama Phone” lady – those who choose to stay low income by sponging off the government – from voting.
Those who choose not to work hard and expect society to take care of them, when they are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves, shouldn’t be allowed to vote. A voting law isn’t an attack on the poor; it’s a way to keep those like Obama phone lady from picking our leaders. I don’t want her picking what color Crayola to write with, much less my future president.
What about single parents? The concept doesn’t change. In this day and age, it’s usually the parent’s choices (exception: rape) that created the kid in the first place. If an individual’s marriage ends in divorce, that would be their choice as well. If this caused the need for government benefits, then through their choices they ended up being the ones not allowed to vote.
If someone is poor and needs government aid, I’m not saying suspend it by any means. I’m saying that until they get back on their feet, they won’t be allowed to vote. For most Americans this wouldn’t be a big deal. We all fall on hard times, and the country has fallen on hard times in recent years. This law wouldn’t prohibit a person from accepting aid; it would only lay down guidelines for voting if you did accept aid.
Those who contribute to society, and give more than they take, should be allowed to participate in it. The fact is that millions of people take voting for granted, and it’s worrisome. They, in turn, vote for those that will give them more handouts. This allows them to become less and less productive members of society.
There once was a time when Americans took pride in hard work while giving back to their country and society. Kids were raised right and people didn’t look favorably on those who fed off the government. We need to get back to a society that holds others accountable for what they contribute.
Allowing only those who contribute to both government and society to vote is a way to do exactly that. Those who want to vote would be allowed to under this law, assuming they work hard and contribute to society. A sense of pride and accomplishment would be given to those who earn the right to vote. Which, in turn, hopefully makes them tell their children they need to work hard so they, too, can earn the right to vote once they enter the work force.
The law wouldn’t be about keeping anyone from voting. Hard work and actively participating in the betterment of society is what such a law would encourage. Why would you give a kid a trophy for a football game when he didn’t play or add to the team? Same concept, only on a bigger scale.

Opinion Column 2012 NOLD: United States needs to stand up for itself

Riots and killings have recently erupted across the Middle East and in North Africa because of a movie portraying the prophet Mohammed in a poor light. At least, that’s how many of the Muslims who are taking part in the riots view it.

Four Americans were killed in Libya, multiple embassies stormed, and yet much of the American populace seems indifferent. It’s time to change that indifference. There was a time when America would “speak softly and carry a big stick.” We made sure the world knew it wasn’t OK to hurt our people. However, I think we have become too passive and too considerate.

Being considerate of others and how they view the world, themselves and us is one of the staples of American culture. As a country, I believe we are very good at respecting others’ wishes and actions. However, if we respect others, then we must demand they respect us.
Time and again I see people burning the flag I have sworn to defend and have listened to people disrespect my God based on their beliefs. This has happened outside our borders, as well as in. I usually disregard those who don’t hold the same values as me as long as they aren’t harming me. They are expressing their opinions and have the right to do so. However, when my physical well-being is put in danger, or I feel it is, I will push back.
Now, apply this to the bigger picture. Our president asks us to respect followers of Islam, and I agree with him on that count. Yet, when radical Islamists incite seemingly peaceful protesters to turn violent, then why should we not demand that they respect us?
If you’re silent, then that’s the wrong answer.
How do we address this as an issue? Well, it has to be a mentality the American populace embraces. It has to be seen in our foreign policy and passed down from our leaders.
I believe it’s time to show other countries that our foreign policy will be based on respect. We will respect you and your people, as well as your beliefs, if you respect ours. If those people and countries can’t do that, then we must show them who has the bigger stick – so to speak – or have nothing to do with them all together.
You can burn our flag and curse our gods all you want, but the second you cross the line, we will be all over you. The line is crossed when bodily harm is done to those who we proudly call Americans.
This doesn’t include little crimes by individuals, but mass movements like the one right now, which aim at hurting our people. I am all for peaceful protests, but as we have seen, many protests done by those who ask for our respect don’t give it in return.
Another inclusion to this rule would be when another government wrongfully imprisons or kills one of our own. Iran in particular comes to mind when we discuss unneeded imprisonment of our people. A prime example is seen in the imprisonment of Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, a former Marine.
He proudly served his country, and after his service he went to visit extended family in Iran. He was imprisoned on heinous charges, and what has our country done? Nothing. There was a little commotion and grumbling here and there, but nothing of sustenance was done so that this American comes home.
Do I propose that we go to war with Iran, Libya and every other country that wrongs us? No, not at first. We must give countries who wrong our people a deadline to meet. After that time is met, we must take action against said country. We need to ensure our credibility and let the rest of the world know that we will not take crap from anyone.
Yet, if there are no hostages to save, just bodies to recover, then military intervention is needed. However, if the situation seems to go nowhere, and those who wronged us won’t change, then we should have nothing to do with them. That’s assuming they can’t harm us, or Americans, in anyway. With our advanced military technology, we don’t have to have boots on the ground to teach those who harm us not to mess with us. However, I guarantee every soldier would say it would be an honor to fight overseas to avenge, or to keep our country safe. Yet, because of our mentality, we shy away from military intervention.
It’s time to change that mentality. Myself, and many more people like me, agree it’s time this melting pot of a nation starts taking more pride in our country. We need to stand up together, and on all levels let the world know that we are going to fix our wrongs, putting us back on top in every category. We are already number one on many levels. Arguably, we have one of the best militaries in the world, and our humanitarian assistance goes above and beyond other nations. We give the most aid of any nation and carry the biggest stick. It’s time to put that to use and help those who truly deserve it.

Opinion Column 2012 Concealed weapons on campus create safer atmosphere

On April 16, 2007, Seung-Hui Cho shot and killed 32 people at Virginia Tech, while injuring 17 others. This was one of the deadliest massacres in U.S. history.

Upon entering Norris Hall, Cho chained up and locked the three main entrance doors. Once the perimeter was locked down, he began shooting. Shots were heard and within a short amount of time, almost 50 people were dead or wounded. After the first shots were fired, police were called. Within 10 to 12 minutes the attack was over, and Cho had shot and killed himself.

The police never had a chance to take him down. His reign of terror lasted as long as he wanted it to. Cho fired about 174 rounds and the police never had a chance to intervene.
Yet, isn’t that what our police force is for? They are supposed to be there to protect and serve, which they do most admirably. But sometimes, the police don’t arrive in time to prevent a crime. They are called in after it has been committed to deal with cleanup or to hunt down a suspect. In the case of the Virginia Tech massacre and other school shootings, it would be better if the students were allowed to defend themselves.
Campuses around the country need to make it legal for students and faculty to conceal and carry on campus. It is quicker to respond to a threat with my own weapon in less than 10 seconds than it is to call the cops who may take, at minimum, two minutes to respond. In that amount of time, I would be dead. All they would find is a man, lying in a pool of his own blood, with a dial tone whining through the receiver of the phone.
Obviously, the reason we should be allowed to have our own weapons on campus is for protection. In the unlikely event that a crazed man tries to shoot up my classroom, I want to be able to say we survived because we were prepared. Thankfully, most days, and on most campuses, crazy people don’t get the chance to kill others.
This protection leads to a sense of security, and we all like to feel like we’re secure. These are the reasons why guns should be allowed on campus. It isn’t enough to think that society has raised people not to kill others. We must protect ourselves, and it is better to be safe than sorry.
Critics of this stance will base their arguments on two main points. They will say that if there were more guns, then we would have more crime. That buzzer sound you hear in the background is the sound of these anti-gun supporters being wrong. If more people had weapons on them and others knew that, then a crazy person would think twice before doing something stupid.
Let’s look at some of the statistics.
One misleading notion people have is that gun owners are prone to kill. However, according to, the approximate number of guns in the U.S. in 2007 was 270 million. Now, let’s be modest and assume that each gun owner has two guns. This would make nearly half of the American population gun owners. If one compares statisticsof the number of gun owners versus the 14,748 murdered in 2010, one will find a massive discrepancy.
Even if you add assault – 778,901 in 2010 – to the equation, and assume that all assaults happen with a gun, the total murder victims, plus assault victims, will not add up to 1 million.
Let’s also assume that a separate person committed each murder and assault each time. For the benefit of the doubt, we will also round up and say that 1 million people committed gun crimes. The other 134 million gun-toting Americans didn’t commit a violent crime with a gun. Instead, they used their weapons for what they were intended for, including self-defense and recreational purposes.
Anyone who claims that a human who has a gun will kill is wrong. Otherwise, wouldn’t there be 134 million more murders in American in 2010 alone?
The other point that most anti-gun supporters claim is that guns kill people. I don’t even need to cite statistics to prove this point wrong. All I need are a few satirical remarks. If this statement is true, my pencil causes me to write. My shoes cause my feet to kick people. My spoon makes me fat, and my car causes fender benders. The point is human beings as individuals, and as a society, are to blame for the murders of others, not the weapon with which they perform the act.
I am not trying to scare anyone into buying my opinion, so here it is broken down: Your chance of being murdered or assaulted this year, based on the statistics above, is less than 1 percent. That is pretty reassuring.
However, if there is ever a time when someone does want to harm you, don’t you want to be ready? I know I do.
Frankly, I want to go down swinging. If the cops show up in my classroom after a gunman has tried to shoot my fellow classmates, I want them to find a classroom full of safe students. I want them to find one body lying on the ground, the body of someone who wanted to harm others.
Other campuses have already legalized the carrying of firearms, including Colorado State University, Utah State University, and the Community College of Denver.
Giving the power back to the people and letting them defend themselves is essential. This not only helps them, but makes the police’s job easier as well.
Per capita, the United States owns the most guns. Yet, it still ranks below other nations in firearm crime ratings. So, let’s bring that number down even more. Let’s reduce the number of future casualties by protecting our campus and our way of life here at UNL. Legalize the carrying of firearms on campus.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Naked Pain Heroes

Punch-press skinny, you stand covered in red dust,
horrific battles from today follow doggedly towards fate.
Towards these stories.
Tend to make one seem scared, and torn apart.
Your flesh dangles from bone on the inside.
He is alive on the other side, and you are like the brat,
the geo-political guilt.

Covers the depthless endless chasm.
The time between white crowed silence and reality,
up rises against dictatorial oppression.
Gliding with no precise movements,
boil flashed monarchs howl profanities like a purring kitten.
Alone in the light, hoping to see gaunt expressionless faces.
It’s no use, bloodcrows rain down, on soilders’ revelation.  

Realization (A Creative Narrative)


            I am sitting in the car, watching trees green, brown, and blur zip by effortlessly.  From a distance I see the white, early eggplant color of a police cruiser with blue and red lights move nowhere in the median.  We are cruising at an even 80 mph in a blue upholstered 2009 Chevy Malibu.   The soft but hopeful voice of Taylor Swift tingles in my eardrums.  Sergeant McCarthy’s voice mixes with enthusiasm and information.  I can feel the sun intensify as it passes through the chipped, un-debugged window.  This is where I see exactly what my decision is, and will mean to me.  I examine my recruiters face for any sign of meaning.  It is there in his gelled spiked hair, his big foreboding eyes, and his chipper laugh.  His dark complexion and free movements reassure me; I did the right thing, my decision is a good one.  My job will be to persuade the native population, and enemy to cooperate with the U.S. government in any way necessary.   I am a Psychological Operations Specialist, or Psyops man.  This will be my future job in the Army Reserve, my future life. 
            As the trees in the Missouri Valley fly by, my recruiter who had by now become my friend answered all my questions. I realize more and more that my job as private Nold has already begun.  I would soon be yelling, “Yes drill sergeant! No drill sergeant!”  I realized this all today, on this lassie-fair drive, after my enlistment.  I felt like I had already known all this, but it was never as real as when I finally arrived at my unit in the afternoon to process.  I arrived at the station and it looked dead.  I walked into the glassless covered foyer.  Where pasty pink dividers cut up the room into compartments where I assumed soldiers worked.  This is when I suddenly realized the permanent complications of my decision.  The effects surrounding these pink walls that will permeate through this building and into my life.  I will be forever affected by this decision that cascades on the white marble floor past the green colored humvee.  This was the first sight the initial realization that my deep redwood brown eyes take in.  The 308th Psyops unit is going to be my future.  It said so on the sign, “Psyops Country.”
            I was already great with psychological warfare, hell I used my brain for mental warfare in the past.  Which, of course came naturally.  For instance I used the loud mouth black guy in my class named Josh to spread rumors about people I didn’t like.  If these rumors were not devious enough, I would pick out something about a person that made them insecure.  Exaggerate this problem of theirs and then spit fire or the insecurity at people who would then feed on it.  More often than not I was able to bring down those who I was having the problems with.  I didn’t bring them down with my overwhelming size since that seems to be nonexistent.  I took them down with some form of psychological foreplay that hopefully kept them awake at night.  This was my power, my gift to destroy people mentally.  Maybe I am built to be a Psyops man.    
            “Private Nold!” Yelled a sergeant whose potbelly stuck out past his toes, and grey hair hinted at his age.  I thought, “A desk jockey.” That’s when I realized I was private Nold.  Soon to be dressed in a cacky digital camo jump suit like uniform. I imagined my last name in black print velcroed to the digital camo.  I realized that my aesthetic life would be interrupted by the real world.  Is that such a bad thing?  Am I supposed to feel this way?  I can combine real world with the aesthetic one I see in my mind, my writing, and in my life.   
I reported to the Sergeant.  The closer I got the more I noticed; like his split tooth that scarred his perfectly white cheery grandpa like smile.  “Yes sergeant?” I replied. 
“Welcome to the Army Son.”  Upon meeting Sergeant Merklin and some of my fellow soldiers, whether they were privates or sergeants, skinny or muscular I saw their faces spin inside of my dizzy head.  So much information to take in, what detachment I was in, how I have to go to linguistics school, airborne school, and assault school, not to mention special forces school.  I had to even go to a school that I would then be selected from if I ended up being one of the better grunts for Special Forces school.  Hell, I didn’t even know I was going to be full-blown Special Forces.  After hearing some of the stuff that I have to do, like jump out of a perfectly good plane, and get to do, such as driving a dune buggy with a .50 cal on top, I realized that I would be part of a very small squad that doesn’t answer to the army per say, but is still part of it.  I realized how hard I must work, sweating during PT, and studying languages not known to many, and how badass I am supposed to be.  My life is now not my own entirely, it occupies another earthly form.  The armies.  I am going to be in battle, and my life will be on the line.  This thought really didn’t find its way into my brain until I visited my unit.  I knew that I wanted to be where the action was, but I didn’t realize I would be trained to kill with such precision.  I didn’t realize that I could end up becoming a high value target for the enemy.  This is when I discovered that this job would define the rest of my life. 
College is the only other truly life changing experience that I see significant consequences from.  Such as, having a certain colleges name on my degree, or even what degrees I can get from certain colleges.  I found people who will always affect my life and determine how I treat others in the future.  Everything that has happened in college from my first true blonde love, to my major will always have an affect on my life.  This was the first time I started to understand the consequences of my decisions.   
            When I had to pick a college I sat around a sway blue counter top with decisions lined up in front of me.  Little brochures that cluttered my view, I had offers to play soccer at small time schools.  I didn’t want that for myself.  I needed something bigger, and something that was more than a small town life. I needed out!  Out of Sioux Falls, out of the line of thought process that is embedded in Sioux Falls, out of the safe lifestyle.  I wanted to make a name for myself, and I needed new friends.  So, I traveled to UNL.  It was a rainy November day when I first laid eyes on the bell tower that stands like a declaration between Andrews, and Burnett hall.  Cold enough to feel like I needed to wear a coat, but warm enough that my ears and hands didn’t need to be covered.  I instantly fell in love with the people, and the idea of college at an illustrious campus. 
            My options were not limited I could go anywhere.  Why did I choose Lincoln Nebraska?  I didn’t do much of what people call comparison-shopping.  My brown, grey speckled eyes only truly looked at UNL.  Sure, I visited UT, but it wasn’t a legit visit.  I just visited to please my dad who kept yelling at me about how I wasn’t comparing colleges, I should look at all my options.  I realize now I should have listened to him.  I made my decision early.  By the time I realized my mistake it was already too late.  I was committed. Thank God that it paid off.  I am happy with my decision.  Sadly though, I can’t help but wonder if there is a warmer, better college out there for me. 
            I’ll stick with my realization for now, but maybe for grad school I will have learned my lesson.  Although it seems unlikely seeing how I may be in the same predicament again, Just this time I am going to the college of cacky green decorum.  I am headed to “Fort lost in the woods.”  Where I recently read that I get the joys of being scared shitless.  Gunfire blasted over your head, and the chance to practice being blown up by an IED.  I am not exploding now though, at least my outside world isn’t.  On the inside I am a continuous explosion of hopes, dreams, and ideas.  I hope that I can live an exciting life full of purpose. I have a dream that someday I will see humanity change because of me.  My idea is that through the Army’s values and my schooling combined I can achieve both my hopes, and dreams.   
Death is apart of life or so I am told.  If it is, then why do we try to run from it?  Why, when it comes knocking at our door do we fend it off with modern medicine, needles, different colored drugs, uplifting stories, and faith?  My own death doesn’t scare me.  I realize that the death of the ones I love scares me more.  It’s like not knowing where they are after they die will make my life worth nothing.  I can’t imagine a world without my mom and dad.  When they pass all I will have is a cold, poorly worded, gravestone to place wilting flowers by.  I don’t want that.  It scares me to think that they will be gone before I am, if the natural order of life occurs. 
I pray I go before my little brother.  If he left this world before me I would be ashamed that I lasted longer, whether it was by luck, or God’s grace.  He is supposed to outlive me, by at least our age difference.  Yet, disease and sad stories such as car accidents are all too common in the world today. 
I guess I may have joined the Army because subconsciously I want to go before my loved ones do.  It is as if I want to walk into the fire before they do, so that I know it will be all right when they pass.  I almost think sometimes that I joined because I wanted to die first and this seemed like the quickest way there.  I know that is selfish, because I won’t have to grieve over my parent’s deaths.  Maybe I am a little selfish? 
            Aaron Curtis Dewitt died once.  Buried a hundred yards in the woods a mile out of the little town of Brandon, South Dakota.  Humidity sticking to his face after seeping through shattered windows.  With a bird-cooing overhead the last voice from any animal he would ever hear.  He died right there, with nothing but nature to comfort him.  He lost control of his car, the make and model doesn’t matter.  I couldn’t tell you anyway.  With his seatbelt on, and the faint smell of alcohol left on his breath they found him pressed up against the steering wheel, bloodied and beaten.  It looked like he had just gotten flogged.  His car was shoved up into the trunk of a tree.  The tree was old and as wide as my arm span it still had enough life to take some of it from Aaron.  He had been drunk driving, lost control, and plowed through a fence. He buried himself deep within the woods as if he was hiding his own death from us.  The medics didn’t find him till 24 hours after his parent’s had reported him missing.  They only found him because the lady who reported the hole in the fence thought she saw taillights in the trees.  Like big red deer eyes staring back at her.  When the ambulance from Sanford Hospital arrived on the scene Aaron was obviously dead, lost somewhere in the next world, somewhere in the unknown.  They told his family that he had died instantly.  They lied.  He had suffered before he died.  It was like he was being cleansed of his sins.  24 hours after the accident they found him, dead.  Still warm, whether it was Aaron’s own body temperature cooling down or the summer sun heating him up.  Either way, he hadn’t died quickly.  When I got the phone call that he had died I didn’t cry.  My mom was in tears, but I was in shock.  My friend, my mentor had passed away without so much as a goodbye.  All I said was, “He is in a better place.”  Then I went downstairs and watched T.V.  
I didn’t cry till months later.  Even then I didn’t show anyone.  I went to the funeral, and the wake.  I let no emotion pass through my face.  It was as lifeless as his was in the casket.  All I can remember is how white he was, and how it seemed like his nose was crooked.  The cheesy smile he always wore was wiped clean off.  Replaced instead with cold, swollen, musty looking lips.  It was then that I wanted to know if he was happy on the other side without his humanly shelter.  That is when I knew that I wanted to pass on to the other side before anyone else I cared about died.           
Walking out, the smell of clean cut grass filled the old air force base that is in Belton Missouri. I imagined pinging sounds on our Chevy.  As I found my ass hit the soft seat I left this world for another one.  Sand covered with screaming men, barking orders at infant soldiers, a foreigner yelling some kind of gibberish that I didn’t know how to speak yet at my comrades.  How did I get to this point, wasn’t I just in Missouri?  An AK47 round pinged off of the metal Chevy, or was it a Humvee.  I didn’t move from my seat, I saw men jump out of vehicles taking up firing positions.  I can feel the vehicle shake as the .50 cal focuses on an enemy in front of us.  His body blasted into multiple chunks.  Wait was that a flash of green?  A tree found its way into the picture.  Where am I?  Transformed into a jungle atmosphere.  Venezuela? I am in a country that is no longer war torn.  I am speaking to an indigenous people, who we are trying to help.  We are trying to build a school, which hopefully will lead the people to like us more than their dictator masquerading as a president.  Wait, a Kansas City sign?  I am phasing out of a dream, or is it a nightmare?  I don’t know, I am coming back to realization that my life is changing, and I will be part of something bigger than myself.  I am eager for this change for the chance to discover the unpredictable world ahead of me.  
The question is what is bigger than myself?  I guess if you believe in a higher being like I do, it is a guided decision.  A place where I believe God wanted me.  If you can’t fathom that, or a God in general then I think of it this way.  Simply put somebody, somewhere, needed me to do this job.  Who that is, or when I will find out if ever is unknown.  Somebody needs me in this job.  It could be a young boy who has only one leg and speaks Portuguese, but desperately needs me to take him away from an abusive father.  It may just be the American people who need me to be the soldier who fights for their rights.  It could be my brother, or mother who need me to live by the warrior’s creed when hardship falls on the family.  All I know is that someone needs me to do this job. 
I was needed other times in life.  When a white convertible died on the side of Charger Drive, I was needed.  A young lady needed me to help her.  She had broken down, and no one was stopping.  The other drivers on the road just flew by with no regard for her safety.  I helper her though, I was drawn to helping her.  Whether it was God or my substantial need to find meaning for why I woke up that day.  I opened the hood on that warm march day, and looked into the engine.  With a smoking radiator, and a grease-covered battery I began to help. We all need to help another; we discover a little bit of ourselves every time.    When we help we find out who we truly are.  I found a little of myself on that day. I found out that I like to be needed.  When Crista Vanderpol broke down on the side of the rode.  I jump started her car with the spark in mine, and put some water in the radiator allowing the hissing to subside as it tried to vaporize due to the heat.  Then I followed her pretty face home.  I got a hug as a payment that day, but more importantly I discovered a friend and a desire to help those in need.         
I am always doing this.  Realizing what my life will be after a decision.  No matter how many times I think about it before I make it, it always ends up like this.  I make a decision, and then realize the implications afterwards.  It doesn’t mean it’s a bad decision.  It just means that you can’t be really sure of what your getting yourself into until after the decision is made.  Whether it is good, or bad.  I guess maybe not realizing how a decision will affect you isn’t such a bad thing.  It keeps life interesting, but then again major decisions such as being a badass who gets shot at, and should probably be thought about.  Also is being a badass even on the agenda, or is that just some kind of idea that I concocted in my head?  It is probably the military talking, but I did hear some crazy stories today. Such as…
A Special Forces unit in civilian clothes with beards rolls up in a black Tahoe in Iraq and ordered my recruiter’s stations Sergeant into the car.  My sergeants steely eyes ask him what he is doing, they state simply top secret, then he says he has to approve it with his commander, these men say they outrank him.  So, his squad heads to a tan, dirt crusted tower.  This is where they set up shop, to snipe whatever white towel head they are after.  Upon returning to the base the commander begins to rip out the man in civvies.  A captain chewing out a sergeant, the sergeant simply says, “We are not in the same Army.  I do not report to you.  I am the superior.”  Then he walked away after pretty much saying fuck you, I am Special Forces. 
The biggest realization is that there is risk involved with this decision.  I am risking losing friends, a caring girlfriend, and my school life, missed birthdays, and most importantly I am risking my life.  I also realize that to try is a risk.  If you’re taking a risk it’s because you are hoping for something.  If you’re hoping for something it is risking failure.  But the biggest risk is to not risk anything at all.  I am risking everything with this decision, and that is a good realization.