Swiss Army Knife or Pen Knife?

By Jack A. Eckert


Somebody described the Coast Guard as the Governmentís ďSwiss Army Knife.Ē What a great analogy.

Take a good look at the knife and see what it can do. In one small pocket tool there is a knife, bottle opener, can opener, scissor, nail file, screw driver, Phillipís head screw driver, awl, and a saw. Several of the tools themselves can do a multitude of things, some dependent on the skill of the user.

  Now what can we do with a pen knife? There are a couple of small knife blades and a tiny tweezers. When compared to the Swiss Army Knife it canít do much at all, maybe clean finger nails, open letters (carefully of course) and a very few other things. Canít even play mumbly peg with it.

Hardly a comparison at all.

Which one would you rather have along with you to help you in your usual and sometimes unusual happenings?  Which of these knives have a better chance to save the day?

For the last how many years the Government has been able to take itís Swiss Army Knife, the U.S. Coast Guard, out of itís pocket and use it to perform how many different jobs. Save property and lives, enforce the laws of the sea, maintain the aids to navigation systems, perform oceanographic work, round up refugees before the sea overwhelms them, build and operate loran stations, fight wars, fight fires, protect our fishing fleets, break ice, run down drug smugglers, and on and on the list goes. The U.S. Coast Guard can do almost anything it has to just as does the Swiss Army Knife.

No other government agency is as well managed and as versatile as the Coast Guard. Name another if you can.

But it is in danger of becoming just another penknife in the Governmentís pocket. It could become stifled by a new agency and lose itís well known and much appreciated versatility as the new agency defines and redefines itís mission. Maybe it will be just another ďCop ShopĒ or maybe just stand on ceremony.

What do you think? Should the Government keep itís trusty old Swiss Army Knife or throw it away and just carry a penknife?


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