sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Thoughts on Moral Courage

CASE 1:
I am not a military critic or apologist, but I am a pragmatic conservative who doesn't like to see taxpayer dollars wasted. As any of you who served in the military can attest, there are STUPID things done every day that wastes untold million. This is another of those Boondogles -- LINK TO AIR FORCE NEWS.

The US Air Force wants to go paperless, and I applaud their decision - and they want to put manuals on (at least) 28,000 laptop computers that cost roughly $4,000 each. Keeping the technical library up to date for air operations is a huge, yet absolutely critical, task. Haven't they heard of a Kindle? $130 each.

CASE 2:
A defense contractor rep called me (through his attorney) yesterday and tried to hire me to influence a sale of seventeen C-130 Hercules aircraft that had been disapproved. Based on what he said, the US State Department (under the aegis of the Merida Initiative) initially supported the gift/"sale" of those aircraft to Mexico. 

Because I deal with some bilateral issues with Mexico, they thought that I was the guy to make it happen. I suspect I was their last gasp, but my response was that the Mexican government had absolutely no use for seventeen C-130's and I applauded the decision of somebody in the Office of Bilateral Implementation (in Mexico City) who spiked the deal. So I declined the offer of employment.

There is a real problem in the military and the defense establishment when it comes to intellectual courage. Some of that is reflected in the two items above that came across my desk in the last two days. In one case, senior leadership is thrilled, and proud to spend $112 million on computers where they could spend on the order of $3 million for a product that worked as well or better. In another, a smart and nameless public servant saw waste and called it for what it was. 

ANALYSIS:
Washington greed and pork is well reflected in a 2,000 page healthcare bill or an $800 billion stimulus bill that legislators are told to vote for without reading -- because they wouldn't understand it anyway. Washington leadership does not want courage - they want fear - they want silence. And that sense is profound within the US Military - and worse the higher you go. 

We as a nation will never dig ourselves out of the moral and fiscal morass that we find ourselves in without people who are willing to stand up, THINK, and act out of an appreciation of the best interests of the nation and its people. Sometimes it means that a computer contractor won't make $112 million - for example.  And maybe a computer contractor might suggest an alternative that cost 3% of what the military thinks best...



3 comments:

  1. ...while other Government agencies stand up Units and Committees, with TDY 'executives', that cost hundreds of thousands (I'm hoping that little) to choose, award, and implement the hundred million dollar contract...for an obsolete computer system nobody wants.

    How is it that some sandwich shops have perfected paperless, touch screen, user friendly, point of purchase systems for customers to design, build, order and pay for their sandwiches...but the government can't figure it out. I know for a fact that many government employees eat those sandwiches, didn't it cross their minds...

    Kindles are cool, but I'm waiting for more libraries to sign up...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Spending $4K is more fun - what with kickbacks, etc. - than buying something for $130.

    ReplyDelete

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