NOt sure how I missed your response, (this has happened alot to me lately
) but I found it now, so here it goes.
QUOTE(Just Leave me Alone! @ Apr 24 2005, 09:35 PM)
OLS. "Trust me man, I know from experience" with anectdotal stories that can't be researched is not a very convincing argument.
Your choice to take advantage of the first hand experience of others or not is simply that, your choice to make. I do know that you will hear about similar issues from ANY member of the US Military that you talk to. I would think that when a problem is that pervasive, that it would be considered legitimate.
QUOTE(Just Leave me Alone!)
The hammer thing was a good point though. Perhaps the Pentagon came up with the $500 hammer etc to fund the secret programs that you spoke of earlier.
Actually, the hammer is an example of bureaucrats going completely out of control (in this case military versions). The most interesting part of the story is that the manufacturer, awarded the contract DID NOT over charge the government.
The reason for the high price was that military bureaucrats decided that they could not give their guys just any hammer. They wanted the perfect one. So the commissioned a group to effectively re-invent the hammer (the cost of which is NOT reflected in the price of the hammer). The design that resulted varied from the standards with a quarter ounce added here, 1/8th inch added there, a 1 degree angle change, etc. As a result, when it was time to seek a manufacturer for this hammer, the extra costs for these changes had to be included.
Those costs were actually massive. The manufacturer had to shut down his/her production like for 3 months to re-tool to produce this new design. Then run the line to exclusively produce these "perfect" hammers, then finally shut down for three months the re-tool to be able to make normal everyday hammers again.
The bulk of the cost of that hammer came from that (roughly) year of downtime when the manufacturer could produce nothing else.
Add to that the percentage most government suppliers add to the price to make waiting the insanely long time it takes to get paid by the government worth bothering to do business with them.
Now, in the military's defense, sometimes these high priced items are expensive for a reason. That reason usually involves hardening something to withstand combat, or improving some everyday item to lesson the risks that item presents in combat.
For example, the Navy's once famous 200.00 ashtray (can't remember the exact price anymore, it has been awhile). That ashtray was expensive because it was designed, like safety glass, to break with dull edges and minimal small pieces. This addressed the issue of how that ashtray could harm someone in combat.
You might think that a plastic ashtray would make more sense. Well first, plastic ashtray break as well, and also produce sharp edges. Secondly, and most likely the core reason, after the Falkland Islands War, the Navy initiated a service wide effort to remove as much plastic from the ships as possible. This was because, though English Frigates took minimal damage in that conflict, the fires that damage started, though easily manageable by normal damage control techniques, quickly spread out of control because men fell not to the flames, but to the toxic fumes of burning plastics. As a result from that lesson, the US Navy took steps to lesson the likely hood of this happening on American ships.
QUOTE(Just Leave me Alone!)
You say that the military is the wrong choice for determining how to spend their money because they are not directly accountable to the electorate(indirectly, they are). Yet you say that the electorate has no clue about the subject and that we can't be trusted to make decisions on these expenditures. Which is it?
It's both. Individuals in the military have their own agendas, individuals in congress have their own agendas, the people of the US, on average do not have a full understanding of the needs of the military, and the military has a need to keep some budget items secret.
What we need a budget drafted by the department of defense, that is reviewed by a committee made up of both congress members, and military flag officers with the power to draft a second budget that includes recommended changes. The Military personnel being there to help keep a check on the flights of fancy and the pork barrelling of congress and the congress being there to help keep a check on the conservatism and favoritism of the military leadership. Another check on the process being the presidential veto power, and a final check on the process being the ability of the people to vote against those politicians who supported items in the military budget that seemed out of line.
Another check that might help ALL budget processes in the US Government is to change the system. Rather than one gigantic budget, we should require that each department of the government (State, Defense, Interior, etc) has their budget voted on separately. This would give everyone a better opportunity to review spending in these different areas, and make it harder to hide inappropriate appropriations.