Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

Home · Articles · News · Other Opinions · Indefensible Spending
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Indefensible Spending

By Stephen Tuttle - October 11th, 2010
In fact, stories of Pentagon waste are legendary. We had the $600
hammer and the $12,000 toilet seat... or was it a $12,000 hammer and a
$600 toilet seat? They were the stars of a long list of outlandish
overspending and waste. We were all dutifully outraged and then went
about our business.
The real waste isn’t in hammers and toilet seats but big weapon
systems. This bottomless pit of spending comes in two forms. We’ll
call the first the We’re-A-Little-Bit-Over- Budget strategy.
The best example is the V-22 Osprey, a unique tiltrotor aircraft that
can take-off and land vertically, like a helicopter, but has wings and
can also fly horizontally, like an airplane. It was intended for use
by the Air Force, Marines and Navy as both a troop and equipment
carrier and for close-in air-to-ground combat support.
The Osprey was first proposed in 1983 and was approved in 1986 with a
total budget of $2.5 billion. There were a few glitches along the
way, not the least of which was the damned things kept falling out of
the sky. Plus, the project was just a bit behind schedule and a bit
over budget.
Dick Cheney tried to stop the Osprey when he was Secretary of
Defense. President Reagan wanted it stopped. The Navy wanted it
stopped. But stopping a government program that was at some point
approved is like trying to stop a glacier – theoretically possible but
rarely, if ever, actually accomplished.
The V-22 lived on, supported by President Clinton during his two-
terms. More crashes, more money, and still more crashes and more
money. Finally, the beleaguered Osprey became operational for the
Marines in 2007 and the Air Force in 2009.
That $2.5 billion budget? We’ve thus far spent about $29 billion and
we’re being told it will take another $27 billion to create the full
fleet. That’s $56 billion, about 22 times the original budget. One
other thing – about a third of the V-22s in operation are out of
service at any given time. Seems we’re short on spare parts.
But at least there is a functional V-22, expensive though it may be.
Which brings us to the second form of egregious defense department
spending. We’ll call it the We-Don’t-Care-If-Nobody-Wants-It-We’re-
Building-It-Anyway strategy.
We’re currently developing the next generation of fighter planes, the
F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Lockheed-Martin is making the aircraft.
Their winning bid presumed the use of an engine built by Pratt &
Whitney who, in a happy coincidence, also won the bidding process for
the engine. And with good reason. The engine they proposed is a
version of one that already exists and has flown 300,000
extraordinarily reliable miles. Their new engine for the F-35 has
already flown 17,000 test miles without incident.
You would think that would be the end of it. You would be wrong.
There is an “alternative” engine also being developed for the F-35,
slithering along thanks to the Congressional earmark process. It is
the Program That Will Not Die.
Our last two presidents have opposed the F-35 alternative engine
program. Their Secretaries of Defense opposed it. The Navy doesn’t
want it nor does the Air Force or Marines. The Senate actually voted
to block funding for this unwanted orphan program but none of that has
actually slowed it down. So far, we’ve spent about $1 billion on the
alternative engine and we’re told it will take another $2.8 billion.
That’s nearly $4 billion for an engine that nobody wants (except for
the good folks at GE Rolls Royce who are making it, and their
congressional allies) to serve as an “alternative” to an engine that
is extremely reliable and already in production and flying.
Remarkably, there are several other programs chugging along nobody
seems to want and the tab is approaching $10 billion a year in
costs. There are additional tens of billions being spent on the
“over budget” portion of existing programs.
How do these things happen? Defense contractors are savvy. They’ve
spread out their manufacturing and assembly operations to multiple
states. When a program on which they’re working is threatened, they
instantly have the support of the Congressmen from the district in
which their plants are located and the U.S. Senators from that state.
Cancelled contracts mean lost jobs, tax revenues and a collapse of the
micro-economy that has grown up around those operations. Whether or
not a program is wanted or needed becomes irrelevant.
Since the end of World War II we’ve been financing a permanent wartime
economy. This idea was first suggested during the war by a group of
Socialists who thought it would be a swell idea to keep unemployment
low. It was seconded by Charles Wilson, the then CEO of General
Electric and Vice Chair of the War Production Board, in 1944. We
haven’t looked back since. Not when President Eisenhower warned us
about the danger and power of the military industrial complex. Not
when our perpetual readiness has led us into one military misadventure
after another.
Of course we want our men and women in uniform to have the best
available equipment and training. It was obscene that we sent our
troops to war in the Middle East without armored vehicles and so we
witnessed the spectacle of our soldiers trying to attach their Kevlar
vests to their Humvees to give them some protection from the roadside
bombs that were devastating them.
So, yes, we’re in favor of providing our troops the best money can
buy. Unfortunately, what we’re actually providing them is the most
expensive that money can buy. That’s costing us tens of billions and
without making our troops better equipped or us one bit safer.
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