Sunday, April 28, 2013

How Politicians Muck Things Up

It's an age old story.  The Army says it doesn't want a piece of equipment but Congress foists it upon them anyway.  Business as usual.  It irks me though since we can't keep our fleet in the Mediterranean where it is sorely needed but we can make the Army buy tanks it doesn't want.

We're talking about an expenditure of $436 million. It's for the Abrams tank of which we already have 2,400.  That's a lot of tanks for a country that shies away from war.  Do we really need to stockpile tanks?  Especially sine the ones we have are less than three years old?

Even more interesting is that there is but one factory for these tanks.  In Ohio.  A Republican state.  So much for minding taxpayer dollars when the pork is in your district or state.  Well, as I said, business as usual.  The Republicans have such a habit of making themselves look ridiculously hypocritical.

Of course the rational is to save jobs even though a new 2017 version, that we do need, will be ready for production.  So the Army is expected to buy the production between now and 2017 to add to an inventory of 2,400 none of which we need or want then continue buying the new ones.  Think of what those dollars could do?

Of course the sequester is being blamed but this has been in the pipeline long before the sequester went into effect.  And it would cause the unnecessary loss of jobs.  But would it? You see we aren't the only ones who use that tank.  We sell them to foreign governments. The Army gets about four tanks a month.  Guess who else does.  Egypt!  And Saudi Arabia gets five!  Nothing like arming the enemy.

Okay, they tell us if we lose this uniquely qualified group of workers it will be more difficult to ramp up in 2017 with the new model.  Are they just going to switch over without re-tooling? No downtime at all or is it paid time off in that circumstance?  Wow.  I may be wrong here, but it seems to me by some managerial innovation, most could keep employed making the tanks for our foreign customers. After all, they buy the bulk of the production.  Maybe Syria would like to sign on.  They've lost a bunch of them in their civil war.  North Korea is a prospect but they're probably getting theirs from China.

Sarcasm aside, how many jobs have been lost when Solyndra went under and Fisker Karma, the electric car company that's on the verge?  No one wants to see anyone lose their job but it happens.  Those of us not working for government contractors are told to retrain.  Too many end up flipping burgers.  That is a dilemma to be sure, but in reality mightn't those tank jobs be tanked at some point anyway with the belt tightening of the military?

Adding the redundancy of building tanks not wanted nor needed seems to be adding expense, not reducing it. Then what are we going to do with all the extras? The ones that will be obsolete?  Have a yard sale? If that's to be the case if I were Saudi or Egypt I'd make do with my current inventory for  five years then resupply on the cheap.

Of course to be able to do that they'd have to cut back on the activities for which they need tanks in the first place.  That wouldn't be all bad.

Seriously, though, if the politicians would let the military pick and choose what it needs the budget would be in much better shape and most of those highly skilled workers would have marketable skills.

As long as they're highly skilled in ways different than our highly skilled TSA workers!

1 comment :

Word Tosser said...

I guess we can use the old ones for the HOMELAND SECURITY... they might need them to go with all those guns they decided they needed. lol