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EP:65:11: “United In Purpose”
Welcome to Showdown, the debate show focused on the day’s most pressing issues. I’m your moderator in the middle, Eria Quint. Coming up later on the show we’ll dig into what might be causing the labor shortage in Magnus; is the system’s reputation as an outlaw haven still valid and is it discouraging qualified workers from seeking employment there?
But first, we’re only days away from the launch of annual Invictus celebrations across the UEE. Introduced in 2542 as a way for the Navy to pick up new recruits during the First Tevarin War, it became an annual event in 2581 and expanded its festivities to include a showcase of the latest technological additions to the Naval fleet. Invictus celebrations have become a beloved event for many, but others wonder if the festivities are bad for the empire.
Here to discuss Invictus are two guests who view the event from very different perspectives. Arthur Warro is an economist and political consultant best known for helping craft the Polo Initiative. Gavin Vidyapith is an author and activist with Safe & Strong, a pro-military political action committee devoted to ensuring all UEE systems receive proper protection.
I’d like to welcome both of them back to the show. Let’s start with you, Gavin. You recently wrote that Invictus ranks as “the most important and vital celebration held by the UEE every year.” Why do you believe that?
GAVIN VIDYAPITH: Because our empire is only as strong as those who defend it. This includes politicians dedicated to upholding the rule of law, Ark historians focused on preserving the incredible history of Humanity’s achievements, and, most importantly, the brave starmen who put their lives on the line to defend the empire every day. Invictus puts that last group front and center so we can honor and celebrate their sacrifice.
Do you have any Invictus traditions?
GAVIN VIDYAPITH: The family and I always spend a day checking out the ships. If there’s fireworks and a fly-by, we’ll stick around for that even if it’s after some of our bedtimes.
I’ll assume yours.
GAVIN VIDYAPITH: [laughter] As they say, early to bed, early to rise… Oh, I always, always buy that year’s Invictus hat and t-shirt. Not sure if everyone knows this, but all proceeds from Launch Week go towards supporting the Navy. I like knowing that my family’s fun funds are going towards something so worthwhile.
How about you, Arthur? How many Invictus hats do you own?
ARTHUR WARRO: None, since I never wear hats or attend Invictus. But now that I think about it, everyone who attends should be given one since our tax credits pay for them. Doubt the Navy would be into that since it’s got a nice little scheme going. Use taxpayer funds to manufacture a hat and then turn around to sell them to the people who really paid for them.
GAVIN VIDYAPITH: Would you prefer Navy starmen on street corners ringing a charity bell?
ARTHUR WARRO: I know you’re kidding, Gavin, but I actually like that idea. It would definitely humanize the Navy by having starmen interacting directly with the public.
GAVIN VIDYAPITH: Which is basically Invictus. Here I thought you were against it, but now you’re advocating for a version of it on every street corner.
ARTHUR WARRO: I’m all for more transparency, people actually getting to know the brave starmen defending our empire, which is part of the reason why Invictus rubs me the wrong way. Invictus doesn’t represent the real Navy, it represents what the Navy wants people to think of it. Some starman on a street corner asking for support or talking directly to a potential recruit would be way more honest about what military service is like than during some scripted Invictus ship tour with their CO monitoring everything they say.
Let’s step back for a second, Arthur. Your main issue is that Invictus feels like a misrepresentation?
ARTHUR WARRO: It’s not my main issue, just one of many.
Then, please, elaborate?
ARTHUR WARRO: First and foremost, who do you think is paying for the event? That’s right, taxpayers. From my time in government, the annual budget for the event was consistently astronomical. Those are a lot of taxpayer credits going towards what’s effectively a parade rather than education programs or vital infrastructure projects that fight every year for a fraction of those costs.
GAVIN VIDYAPITH: The Navy has every right to spend its budget however it wants, whether that be on a new line of new ships or by putting on these events celebrating their starmen.
ARTHUR WARRO: Last year, the Navy specifically listed rising Invictus costs as one of the reasons it was seeking a 7% increase to its budget. This cost isn’t coming out of its general fund, it’s a specific line item that’s been used as an excuse to inflate its budget for years.
What do you think, Gavin? Is all the money spent on the event worth it?
GAVIN VIDYAPITH: I think looking at it through a strictly monetary lens is a bit simplistic. The Navy considers Invictus a net positive, not only because it drives recruitment, but it also generates goodwill with the public. Most people love seeing the power of the Navy up close and personal.
ARTHUR WARRO: Yeah, I agree. The event makes war tourism fun and acceptable.
GAVIN VIDYAPITH: Oh, come on now—
ARTHUR WARRO: Don’t worry about the specifics of what’s happening on the Vanduul front. Don’t ask what benchmarks must be reached before we consider the war against the Vanduul “won.” Don’t worry that one out of every fifteen children in the UEE is living in poverty. Give us more taxpayer money so we can keep building massive ships that maybe someday you’ll get to tour after watching some colorful explosions in the sky.
GAVIN VIDYAPITH: Invictus has been a cherished tradition in this empire for 370 years. Last I checked we haven’t been engaged in a war that entire time. Have we, Arthur?
ARTHUR WARRO: Never said we were.
GAVIN VIDYAPITH: Yet you imply that the Navy wishes we were for their own benefit.
ARTHUR WARRO: I’m not implying that either.
GAVIN VIDYAPITH: And now you just are going to sit here and deny, deny—
Gavin, please. Let me interject to ask you, Arthur, what point were you trying to make?
ARTHUR WARRO: Simply that no matter what the Navy or Gavin here wants you to believe, Invictus isn’t about the brave starmen of the Navy. The real beneficiaries of Invictus are the ship manufacturers that are capitalizing on the free publicity the Navy is giving their ships. The clear implication being that if you don’t fully fund the Navy to allow it to buy these ships then you won’t be safe. It’s just so ingrained in the fabric of this empire that we can’t see it anymore.
We need to take a quick break—
GAVIN VIDYAPITH: Hold on, Eria, I need to respond to that.
Don’t worry, you’ll have your chance, but first we do need to step away for a quick commercial break. When we return Gavin Vidyapith and Arthur Warro will continue this spirited conversation around Invictus. Then we’ll look into what’s going on in Magnus. The economy is booming but does the system have enough workers to make this success sustainable. Don’t go anywhere, there’s more Showdown coming back shortly.