Fat Steve's Blatherings

Thursday, March 10, 2005

A Grade of B for The New York Times

      A story today in the New York Times details many of the reasons the U.S. military is still having trouble getting life-saving armor to our troops in Iraq.

      The reasons for the screw-ups are perfecly familiar to anyone who ever read anything about the way Washington procures stuff for the troops.  See Edward Luttwak's The Pentagon and the Art of War, for example.

      I'd have given the Times an A if they'd explained that all this has happened before, and will happen again, because that's the way Congress and the military want it.  And Congress and the military want it that way, because that's the way the public wants it.

      Luttwak's chapter on procurement is subtitled something like "Why we need more waste, fraud, and mismanagement."  The reason we need them is that the current regulations were designed to prevent them.  And they do prevent some waste, fraud, and mismanagement, by slowing procurement way down, and attaching monumental paperwork requirements to every contract.

      In the end, the question is, what's more important: controlling input or getting the right output?  As a nation, most of us don't care.  Of those who do, the majority favor controlling input.  Experience shows that input control INVARIABLY RESULTS IN SLOW, INFERIOR OUTPUT.  Since we don't care enough to become fanatics who will destroy any politician that favors input control, and since the input controllers are such fanatics, they will win every time.

      And the troops will continue to die.  Sorry, guys, our bad.



Post a Comment

<< Home