Thursday, April 30, 2015

MIDWAY To Freedom

di Al Adcock (Traduzione di Leonardo Pavese).

Sull’isola di Con Son, al largo della costa del Viet Nam del Sud, il Maggiore Boung, dell’Aeronautica Sud-Vietnamita, sua moglie e i suoi cinque figli, attesero l’alba e il momento in cui sarebbero saliti sul piccolo Cessna O-1A che li avrebbe condotti verso la libertà.
La caduta di Saigon era imminente, e il maggiore Boung sapeva che lui e la sua famiglia non avrebbero potuto sopravvivere sotto un regime comunista. Per fuggire, egli aveva elaborato un piano in verità un po’ disperato: pompare la massima quantità possibile di carburante nei serbatoi del suo Cessna, e involarsi dall’isola sul Mar Cinese Meridionale alla ricerca di una portaerei americana.

Cessna O-1 

Il 30 aprile 1975 (il giorno della resa ) Boung mise in atto il suo piano. Quando la situazione in Vietnam era diventata ormai disperata la Marina americana aveva posizionato tre portaerei, USS MIDWAY, USS CORAL SEA e USS ENTERPRISE al largo delle coste del Vietnam del Sud. Le navi prendevano parte all'Operazione Frequent Wind, cioè l’evacuazione per via aerea di tutto il personale americano dal Vietnam del Sud.
In volo sopra il Mar Cinese Meridionale, il Maggiore Boung sapeva di avere benzina a sufficienza solo per un’ora di ricerche. Se non avesse scorto una portaerei, sarebbe dovuto ammarare. Ma la fortuna volava con loro, e presto Boung avvistò la portaerei MIDWAY.

USS MIDWAY (CV-41). Il ponte misurava circa 295 metri

Sorvolando in circolo la nave, Boung scrisse un messaggio su una carta di navigazione aerea e lo lanciò sul ponte di volo della portaerei. Nel messaggio Boung spiegava la sua situazione relativa al carburante e pregava l’equipaggio della nave di spostare gli elicotteri ammassati sul ponte, cosicché lui vi potesse atterrare.
L’equipaggio della MIDWAY liberò velocemente il ponte; il Cessna O-1A, col carburante quasi esaurito, eseguì un perfetto avvicinamento alla portaerei, rimbalzò sul ponte un paio di volte  e s’arrestò in totale sicurezza. Era il primo O-1A che fosse mai atterrato su una portaerei.
Il Maggiore Boung chiese asilo politico negli Stati Uniti, che gli fu concesso, per sé e la sua famiglia. Lo O-1 fu portato negli Stati Uniti e dato in consegna al Museo dell'Aviazione Navale di Pensacola in Florida.

Sopra: la carta che il Maggiore Boung gettò sul ponte della USS MIDWAY. Il messaggio diceva: "Potreste spostare gli elicotteri sull'altro lato. Posso atterrare sulla vostra pista. Posso volare ancora per un'ora, c'è abbastanza tempo per spostarli; per favore soccorreteci.

Maggiore Boung, moglie e 5 figli".

Il maggiore Boung appontò sulla MIDWAY toccando prima col ruotino di coda (il che è perfettamente corretto e sicuro). Quando l'aereo si fermò fu avvicinato da un Marine che s'assicurò che trasportasse solo persone.

Sopra: il Maggiore Boung, sua moglie e i suoi cinque figli attorniati, fra gli applausi, dai marines e dai membri dell'equipaggio della USS MIDWAY.

L'articolo, liberamente tradotto, costituiva un capitoletto della monografia (Numero 87) dedicata al Cessna O-1, "O-1 Bird Dog in action", pubblicata dalla Squadron/Signal Publications Inc. nel 1988.

I vostri commenti, come sempre, saranno molto graditi. Grazie,
Leonardo Pavese

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day? Maybe another time, thanks.

This my contribution to Earth Day. It's a translation of an article from a newsletter I receive from the Italian Bruno Leoni Institute, or IBL.  
The Institute is a Libertarian think tank which promotes the ideas of the free market, in the sense of the free unfettered interaction among free individuals.
It's a good piece. I hope I did it justice and I hope you will enjoy it.
Your comments will be greatly appreciated. Thank you,
L. Pavese

Why we don't celebrate Earth Day.
By Carlo Stagnaro. (Translated and edited by Leonardo Pavese). 

On April 22nd 2012, being a Sunday a lot of middle class people probably spent Earth Day complaining, while they were unwrapping their sweets, about other people’s carelessness toward the environment, about the evils of capitalism, which destroys everything, and about the tomatoes, which don’t taste like they used to.
At the same time, more than 1.3 billion human beings spent their day like any other damned day, unable to turn on a light bulb, because they don’t have access to electricity. We are on the side of those 1.3 billion people; and we won’t be comfortable celebrating anything, until they too will be able to enjoy, like we do, the fruits of economic development.
Earth day was celebrated for the first time on April 22, 1970. It’s been recurring since then, dragging along the same list of complaints; but are these complaints really justified? And do they correctly differentiate between cause and effect?
The data with which to amuse oneself and to be amazed by, can be found here
In the least developed countries, (here ‘s the list), the harvest of grains per farmed hectare, (2.471 acres), in the 2000 to 2010 decade, was roughly 43% more than in the decade from 1970 to 1980.
In the same area of the world, which was and still is in the worst conditions, life expectancy at birth grew 25%, from 45 to 56 years of age. Infant mortality decreased 42%, from 137 ‰ (per mille) to 79 ‰ children born alive.
All these statistics are even brighter, if we observe the world in its entirety, or if we take into consideration just the other more fortunate developing countries. In China, for example, life expectancy at birth grew from 65 years of age in the period from 1970 to 1980, to 72 years of age in the decade from 2000 to 2010.

Almost every other statistic is equally or more encouraging. In the last decade, the world population has become richer, it has achieved a better standard of living and it has narrowed the inequality gap.
All of this was possible thanks to capitalism and to the economic growth that it has made possible. Globalization and the spreading of communication technology, which allow for a quicker dissemination of information and knowledge, erased the distances between countries and amplified a trend that was already occurring.
Where this did not happen, or in countries where it occurred more slowly, it was because political circumstances (domestic factors or issues related to international conflict) constrained the great force of capitalism.
To quote the best passage ever written, in praise of capitalism:

The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication, draws all, even the most barbarians, nations into civilization. The cheap prices of commodities are the heavy artillery with which it batters down all Chinese walls, with which it forces the barbarians’ intensely obstinate hatred of foreigners to capitulate.
The bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarce one hundred years, has created more massive and more colossal productive forces than have all preceding generations together. Subjection of Nature’s forces to man, machinery, application of chemistry to industry and agriculture, steam-navigation, railways, electric telegraphs, clearing of whole continents for cultivation, canalization of rivers, whole populations conjured out of the ground — what earlier century had even a presentiment that such productive forces slumbered in the lap of social labor?
                                                                   (Karl Marx. The Communist Manifesto)

Other great news is that this incredible and positive growth was not achieved to the detriment of the environment, as a lot of people who will celebrate Earth Day seem to think.
In fact, it’s true that the quality of the environment initially tends to deteriorate, as societies become richer; but when the basic needs are eventually met, the environment (a healthy one) itself becomes a need. Therefore, after the environment has fueled the economic growth, humanity repays its debt and returns a better planet, than the one it has inherited, to the following generations. 

As a matter of fact, most environmental indicators show a continuous and sustained improvement of conditions, after an initial period of deterioration.
That takes us back to the beginning. Notwithstanding the fact that the trends are positive, the situation remains disappointing: still too many people on Earth suffer from hunger, thirst and deprivations that we today can’t even imagine, in our blessed corners of the industrialized world. Those individuals have the right to the same kind of development we have enjoyed. It is possible. The technical instruments are there; and so many technologies and production and commercial methods, which in the past had not been invented, now exist. But to extend these instruments to those who still don’t have access to them, it is necessary that those countries create for themselves institutions compatible with the free market: they must safeguard private property, contract, the freedom of movement for people, merchandise and capital; but it is also imperative that the western countries don’t impede this evolution, with their protectionism and their policies.

To use the analogy that Marx used, we shouldn’t bombard those people and those goods with the immaterial cannons of restrictions to immigration and to the movement of merchandise.
Protectionism hurts the victims and the people who practice it: but it becomes absolutely unacceptable when it entails throwing overboard the hopes and the future of those individuals who were not as lucky as we were, to be born here. (The author speaks from an Italian perspective: every year dozens of Africans drown in the Mediterranean trying to reach Europe. ndt) 
Protectionism sometimes masquerades under the false cloak of environmental policy. Our policies, for the most part, do not protect the environment but pursue economic and political agendas. They protect constituencies and interest groups; to our detriment and to the detriment of those 1.3 billion people who still don’t have electricity and who still run the risk of asphyxiating, in houses, (if they can be called so), where death hovers with the fumes that emanate from rudimentary stoves, or sneaks in stealthily like an anopheles mosquito carrying malaria.
For all these reason, we (the people of the Bruno Leoni Institute and I) won’t celebrate Earth Day. We don’t like to celebrate wrong ideas, which confuse the pathology with its symptoms and want to fight capitalism with poverty, instead of the opposite, hiding behind the fig leaves of ecology.
We won’t celebrate Earth Day, because too many people couldn’t do it, even if they wanted to.
We will continue to promote those ideas and those reforms that could make the Earth a more hospitable and richer world.