12/18/2009 03:11 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Erik Prince - Our New Peter Pan

It's easy to read J. M. Barrie's children's story, Peter Pan, and miss the point that it's a tale about more than a man-child's carefree life among pirates and mermaids. The original stage play was titled, The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow up. Investigative reporter Adam Ciralsky wrote an expose' about a real life Peter Pan by the name of Erik Prince. Ciralsky's expose' appeared in Vanity Fair Magazine this month, and I got a chance to interview Ciralsky about the qualities of Erik Prince, America's most infamous mercenary. When Erik's father died, he left Erik more than a billion dollars to play with. Those were the good ol' days for Erik before his mercenary company called Blackwater became bogged down in grand jury investigations about issues like bribery and manslaughter. With daddy's money, Erik armed himself with man-child toys that were much more deadly than Peter Pan's fairy dust and long knives. He took daddy's money and bought guns, Black Hawk helicopters, and thousands of acres in North Carolina. From there, he launched his Army for hire. He paid his Blackwater soldiers $600 a day. With taxpayers' money, those soldiers had learned the art of war. The cost to taxpayers for that training is approximately $400,000 per soldier. Prince capitalized on that taxpayer-paid training by recruiting soldiers after their discharge. Then he simply leased those soldiers back to taxpayers at an annual cost of $450,000 a piece. Prince has made a cool 1.5 billion dollars with taxpayer-trained soldiers.

Six of Prince's mercenaries were charged with killing 17 Iraqi civilians in what the Justice Department described as unprovoked and unjustified manslaughter. Most of those civilians were women and children. When that occurred even the Pentagon began asking the obvious question; like what control do we have over Erik's private army? Why are they performing the duties of enlisted soldiers and being paid ten times what an enlisted soldier is paid? Peter Pan was never able to arm his lost boys in Neverland with high-tech tactical weapons. But I suspect if they had had a limitless supply of AK-47's and rocket launchers, everyone from Tiger Lily to Tinker Bell would have lived in a state of terror. One of Erik's most revealing quotes recorded in his Vanity Fair Magazine interview was when he announced that he was going to retire and become a history teacher. Erik's exact words were, "Hey, Indiana Jones taught school too." That is the image Prince holds for himself.

In fact, it is that Prince big adventure, big thrill, big fun life that taxpayers are subsidizing for no good reason. If the U.S. military trained the very people Prince hires, then why are we paying Peter Pan a second time to hire his Neverland team?

The video game industry has made billions selling little boys' video games with titles like, "Call of Duty" and "Modern Warfare." They are games that allow young boys to blow things up and shoot big guns. Nobody dies, and it's inexpensive. Most boys abandon those games by the time they reach adolescence. Erik Prince never did. Why should he when taxpayers continue to fund him and his Lost Boys of Neverland?