Friday, September 19, 2008

Quid Pro Quo

As I stated in an earlier blog post, in many cases we are providing foreign nationals with more money than they could ever imagine earning in their home countries. Moreover, the Army no longer has to worry about recruiting soldiers to do jobs very few people want to do; however, the main question surrounding this issue is how much should we really be paying these contractors? If you look at the national deficit, you'll notice that a significant portion of it is directly linked to the war in Iraq. It's not that we couldn't fund such a war, it's that the people in charge of negotiating these contracts are reaping monetary benefits because of their connections with personnel in the military. Go to any contractor's website and you'll see that many of their board members or higher echelon administrators are themselves former DoD employees. The following is an EXAMPLE of how this process works.
Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Joe Schmoe is about 2 years away from retirement and is currently in charge of all construction contracts on FOB Liberty. KBR representative Mr. Smith is seeking to get the contract for installing 500 new trailers on post. Mr. Smith goes to LTC Schmoe and says, "Hey Sir. I've noticed that you're closing in on retirement and we were wondering if you'd considered working for us when you get out of the Army." "I don't know," says the LTC, "I haven't really thought that much about it, but I'd like to hear what you have to offer." "Well, you'd essentially be doing the same kind of work with us, but you'd be making about 3 times what the government's paying you right now," replies Mr. Smith.
What these two gentlemen don't talk about but is crystal clear is that if LTC Schmoe wants that cushy job with KBR, he's got to scratch their awarding them with the contract of $7.5 million dollars to add new trailers. However, it's only going to take them about $3.5 million to actually provide this service because of their cheap labor. So, the extra $4 million gets divvied up to those at the top. Please remember that all of this money is your hard earned tax dollars at work, not private money that each company has invested.
In the field of Political Science, this is approach commonly referred to as the Iron Triangle, with the inclusion of Congress, who is responsible for providing DoD with the money to pay contractors for their services.
In conclusion (over a three blog post period), what we have here is a culture in which the government is paying private contractors to provide services to the military, using foreign nationals who will do the same work at lower cost; yet, somehow we're spending more money than ever before on sustaining our military presence and capabilities. And by the way, I'm not even going to get started on the equipment we use. I place my Herbie Hancock (see Tommy Boy) on receipts for parts that total up to $25,000 EVERY WEEK!!!
So, for those of you feeling pains in area where you keep your pocketbook, at least now you'll know where some of it is going! Take care, and sorry to depress, anger, infuriate, or confuse you!

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