[FoRK] "Two faces of the Tea Party"

J. Andrew Rogers andrew at ceruleansystems.com
Thu Jun 24 13:52:29 PDT 2010

On Jun 24, 2010, at 11:08 AM, Dave Kammeyer wrote:
> As Jeff says, there are lots of military programs that can be
> classified as pork, but the big expenses are the wars and new weapons
> systems.  There is tons of waste in the military procurement system,
> and with a concerted effort, it could probably be improved, but there
> are very powerful institutions dedicated to ensuring that the profits
> of defense contractors aren't hurt.  Your pork is his profit.  Since
> the TP people tend to skew right-wing, there is generally support for
> the military, and cutting the military budget is generally not
> something that they support.

A lot of the pork in military contracting is structural. A military program may not be pork in the abstract, but by the time Congress gets done monkeying with the structure of the program, it costs five times as much as it needs to because the money is forced to pass through so many hands.

Most of the Department of Defense budget gets spent on active personnel.  Eliminate the obligation to deploy them hither and yon and you've slashed the budget requirements immensely.  Developing and buying new systems and similar are a pretty small portion of the defense budget, though you could still slash Congressional pork that gets injected into the process.  The R&D of new systems generally pays for itself because of a strong focus on reduced personnel, logistical, and fuel/energy footprints when new systems are developed -- substantially improved economics are an explicit design point. 

When people talk about slashing the DoD budget, it often appears that they think most of that money goes to new toys and similar.  The reality is that most of it goes to people and that the easiest way to dramatically reduce military spending is to dramatically reduce the number of people they employ and the number of people they need to pay benefits to e.g. the Veteran's Administration. The Federal government can reduce the number of military personnel they deploy any time they choose, as an executive decision to some extent. 

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