Tuesday, October 11, 2005

From John J. Duncan

This is one segment from the "Washington Report" that Tennessee Congressman John J. Duncan sent out recently. You can also read it by clicking on the link above.

Defense Waste

One of the most honorable ways anyone
can serve this Country is in our NationÂ’s
armed forces. I have great admiration
and respect for those who serve. On the
other hand, the military is by far our
biggest bureaucracy, and like any
gigantic bureaucracy, it wastes many
billions of dollars each year. It would
be unpatriotic and a real disservice to
our taxpayers not to speak out against
this waste. If we do not criticize waste
in the military because of excessive
patriotic fervor, this waste will
inevitably grow. The Government
Accountability Office (GAO) recently
reported that the Pentagon has misspent
$35 billion in Iraq and that another $9
billion could not be accounted for at all
In a separate hearing, the GAO also
reported that the Department of
Defense DODD) wasted $2.2 billion
replacing items that were in new,
unused, or excellent condition.
On one
occasion,DODD sold 172 pairs of new
cold weather boots valued collectively
at more that $23,330 for just $69 (not
$69 each, $69 total). That is less than
the cost of one pair of shoes. GAO also
found thatDODD purchased at least $400
million of identical items during this
time instead of using the materials
available. It is humanly impossible to
really comprehend how much one
billion is. However, a person would
have to make $100,000 a year for
10,000 years to make one billion.
David Walker, Comptroller General of
the U.S., has been testifying in front of
many Congressional Committees,
including one I am on, warning about
what one columnist called the financial
“tsunami” we’ll see as baby boomers
retire. Mr. Walker says the Defense
Department has “absolutely atrocious
financial management. If it were a
business, it would be out of business.

I think that clearly illustrates that there is plenty of money going to the government. We don't really need to completely eliminate come programs, as some suggest, or raise taxes in order to pay for things and reduce the debt. What really needs to happen is better use of the money that is going to the government. How can you 'lose' $9 billion? That's enough to fund the EPA for 2006 ($7.6 billion) or the Social Security Administration ($7.7 billion) or the Corps of Engineers ($4.3 billion) or 'Other Agencies' ($6.6 billion). Figures are from Table S-3 of the 2006 Federal Budget. It's mind-boggling to think of the waste and misuse of our money. And it is our money. More people need to start paying attention to and getting mad about it being so poorly managed.

I think maybe we should reinstate the Draft but with a new twist. Either you can serve your country in the military for 2 years (is that long enough?) or you can serve your country by having to manage a business (or maybe a government agency?) and keep it from going broke for two years. That could be called the Business Draft. Maybe that way more people would learn to manage resources while getting federal spending under control. The Business Draftees would have to go through Business Basic Training that would instill in them the proper work ethics and attitudes for business success just as the Military Basic Training prepares people to be soldiers.

Running a business is much harder than most people think. Fifty percent of new businesses fail within four years. The reasons range from voluntary ending of business to bankruptcy due to mismanagement. Mostly it's the mismanagement that is the problem. Maybe we should think more about teaching our kids how to live within their means instead of squabbling about Evolution vs. Intelligent Design.


SierraBella said...

How about a Humanitarian Draft whereby one would serve their time working for the Peace Corps, Red Cross, or even Habitats For Humanity?

DHammett said...

I agree with a reinstitution of a draft with alternatives as you and Sierrabella mention. There's no training better than real life training. Kids can go to college, get a degree and be completely unprepared to do anything in life. In fact, most do just that (myself included). Having them learn skills in the military, in business or those utilized in humanitarian causes are much more valuable than a degree in, for example, English literature.

I'm not anti-education, but I think education (especially the indoctrination that currently passes for education) for education's sake is as useful as art for art's sake.

Eddie said...

Businesses also fail due to poor capitalization, especially of small businesses. So true about mismanagement though, even with big business. One only need to look at Kmart for a prime example of this, pre-bankruptcy. Now they have great management and are very profitable.

Rae Ann, you know how I feel about those "programs" you mentioned. We need to slash and burn them all and provide a massive tax cut to the productive members of society and stop creating a system as to where the lazy and slugs of our Country PAY no taxes, in spite of greatly benefiting from living here.

Rae Ann said...

sierrabella, that is a great idea!

dh, yes, I know exactly what you mean. I loved going to college, but it didn't really prepare me for my life. I just got another idea for a post on technical/vocational schools. (note to self) Thanks! I'm not sure I agree about the art thing. Isn't all art for art's sake? (Art is a lucky guy, lol, sorry that was lame.) There's a lot more to be said about art though that would make this comment way too long.

Eddie, I don't mean this in any kind of condescending or patronizing way, but when I was your age I thought the same thing. I've gotten old and soft I guess. (in more ways than one, unfortunately, lol) But you're right that the slugs need to be squashed.

mr_g said...

Never been a fan of the draft, but your twist is rather intersting...kind of like a "life internship" before embarking down your chosen path....intersting thought. Oh yeah, loved that idea about government spending responsibly...I laughed out loud...so I wouldn't cry!

madman said...

How about paying members of congress minimum wage--and give them bonuses based on weeding out waste without slashing programs--They would then stop vacationing with lobbyist and get to work solving problems. As far as the draft of "any kind"--start with their kids. As CCR once said "I ain't no Senators Son!"

Anonymous said...

C'mon Rae,

Surely you can't be serious about scrapping the ID versus evolution debate.........all those creationists suddenly having no school boards to lobby........:)

Running your own business is fairly easy as long as you pay attention to one key area..........Cashflow.



DHammett said...

I wasn't trying to say that there is no place for art...especially not to an artist. I'm one who can appreciate it, but I don't see it as being useful in a practical sense. In other words, aside from decorating a wall, it doesn't contribute to society. Likewise much of education...other than creating condescending intellectuals, it does not make a positive contribution.

Rae Ann said...

mr g, glad to make you laugh, I think. lol Sometimes the best way to find out what you want to do with your life is to do something that you absolutely hate.

madman, yeah, I totally agree about congressional salaries. Great point!

nor, maybe business is simpler in Australia? Maybe your tax structure makes it easier to keep that cashflow? lol

dh, we need to have a more in-depth convo about art and its role in society. I do agree, however, about 'higher' education being more like liberal (and sometimes conservative) indoctrination than teaching people to think for themselves. I really do hate those condescending intellectuals.

Eddie said...


I appreciate you have had those views and now don't. However, I am a crotchety male and I am sure, though not certain, that my views will only harden with the years. Sorry, growing up in a church environment, I was taught to depend on the Lord, not on big government. Thanks, Ed.

Rae Ann said...

eddie, you know I agree with most of what you say. And I appreciate that you've got the balls (crotchety or otherwise) to say what you really think.