Last updated: November 25. 2013 10:21PM - 434 Views
By Bill Taylor

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It seems to me that one of the blessings (or perhaps curses) of being part of the geriatric set is that we have lived through happenings that are now bits of history which few if any folks nowadays ever heard about or, for that matter, care about. But, you see, we have a perspective that comes from living so long and being part of almost-forgotten times.

Anyway, the current turmoil over the much- anticipated rollout of the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), including the website, - some three and a half years after the act was passed - kinda stirred up the memory box. I got to thinking of other major activities and programs back in

World War II and how they worked out. Here are some comparisons.

We needed ships to transport people and supplies around the world to support the war effort. To meet this demand a major program to build ships quickly and efficiently was set up. “Liberty ship” was the name given to the EC2 type ship designed for “Emergency” construction by the United States Maritime Commission in WW II. Nicknamed “ugly ducklings” by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the first of the 2,711 Liberty ships, the SS Patrick Henry, was launched on Sept 7, 1941. Built to a standardized, mass produced design, the 250,000 parts were pre-fabricated throughout the country in 250-ton sections and welded together in about 70 days. One Liberty ship, the SS Robert E. Peary, was built in four and a half days. (Source: American Merchant Marine at War, www.usmm.org) Quite an impressive - and successful - program.

Back before WWII, the various military headquarter functions in Washington were scattered among a bunch of buildings. The need for a consolidated headquarters building was recognized and the concept of the Pentagon was formed. The House of Representatives passed the necessary legislation for the project on July 28, 1941; the Senate on August 14. Construction on the Pentagon began without fanfare on Sept. 11.

By early December 1941, 3,000 workers were on the site during the day; by March 1942, more than 10,000 men were working on the site. At one particularly intense stage, 15,000 people were working three shifts, 24 hours a day, with floodlights illuminating the site at night. The Pentagon’s first employees moved in on April 30, 1942; the building officially opened on January 14, 1943. (Source: www.History.com) Yep, what was then the world’s largest office building, built to a uniquely efficient design, went from first shovelful of dirt to opening in a tad over two years.

You know, folks, stuff like this was common back in those days. Just east of my home town in the north central part of our state a huge Army depot was constructed and functional in about a year. To the north a sprawling ordnance plant appeared where there were formerly cornfields - once again from that first shovelful of dirt to operation in a matter of months. A fully functional army camp seemingly materialized on the outskirts of a nearby town. This was typical.

You know, our country went from a handful of bombers to conducting thousand-plane raids in Europe in only a couple of years. Just think of everything that went into that effort: acquiring the material, constructing and equipping the aircraft, training the aircrews, planning the missions, and providing logistical support every step of the way. Yep, another example of program after program that went from concept to operations in a short time - and we were involved in such massive operations world-wide.

OK, some perspective. We declared war in Dec 1941 and hostilities ended in August 1945. That’s about three and a half years during which we started up and successfully executed immense programs. This is roughly the same length of time the administration has had to get ObamaCare up and running. So what are the results thus far? Well, according to emerging information, there are serious problems with the overall program - and after reportedly spending hundreds of million of dollars on the website alone. Not a very flattering comparison, is it?

I recently came across a comparison even less flattering. It’s attributed to an unidentified physician and goes something like this, “When Nancy Pelosi commented, ‘Let’s pass this thing so we can see what’s in it.’, she was perfectly describing our instructions regarding a stool sample and everyone knows what a stool sample is.” ‘Nuff said. At least that’s show it seems to me.

Bill Taylor, a Greene County Daily columnist and area resident, may be contacted at solie1@juno.com.

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