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.
One of the most honorable ways anyone
can serve this Country is in our NationÂs
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
ÂtsunamiÂ weÂll see as baby boomers
retire. Mr. Walker says the Defense
Department has Âabsolutely 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.