Results 1 to 13 of 13

Thread: Is the Department of Defense the Shadiest Organization in the World?

  1. #1

    Default Is the Department of Defense the Shadiest Organization in the World?

    https://www.thenation.com/article/pe...-budget-fraud/

    On November 15, Ernst & Young and other private firms that were hired to audit the Pentagon announced that they could not complete the job. Congress had ordered an independent audit of the Department of Defense, the government’s largest discretionary cost center—the Pentagon receives 54 cents out of every dollar in federal appropriations—after the Pentagon failed for decades to audit itself. The firms concluded, however, that the DoD’s financial records were riddled with so many bookkeeping deficiencies, irregularities, and errors that a reliable audit was simply impossible.

    Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan tried to put the best face on things, telling reporters, “We failed the audit, but we never expected to pass it.” Shanahan suggested that the DoD should get credit for attempting an audit, saying, “It was an audit on a $2.7 trillion organization, so the fact that we did the audit is substantial.” The truth, though, is that the DoD was dragged kicking and screaming to this audit by bipartisan frustration in Congress, and the result, had this been a major corporation, likely would have been a crashed stock.
    Now, a Nation investigation has uncovered an explanation for the Pentagon’s foot-dragging: For decades, the DoD’s leaders and accountants have been perpetrating a gigantic, unconstitutional accounting fraud, deliberately cooking the books to mislead the Congress and drive the DoD’s budgets ever higher, regardless of military necessity. DoD has literally been making up numbers in its annual financial reports to Congress—representing trillions of dollars’ worth of seemingly nonexistent transactions—knowing that Congress would rely on those misleading reports when deciding how much money to give the DoD the following year, according to government records and interviews with current and former DoD officials, congressional sources, and independent experts.

    The fraud works like this. When the DoD submits its annual budget requests to Congress, it sends along the prior year’s financial reports, which contain fabricated numbers. The fabricated numbers disguise the fact that the DoD does not always spend all of the money Congress allocates in a given year. However, instead of returning such unspent funds to the US Treasury, as the law requires, the Pentagon sometimes launders and shifts such moneys to other parts of the DoD’s budget.
    “They’re making up the numbers and then just asking for more money each year,”
    The goal is to paralyze Congress.”
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Veteran Pentagon staffers say that this practice violates Article I Section 9 of the US Constitution, which stipulates that

    No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.
    “Nippering,” a reference to a sharp-nosed tool used to snip off bits of wire or metal, is Pentagon slang for shifting money from its congressionally authorized purpose to a different purpose. Such nippering can be repeated multiple times “until the funds become virtually untraceable,” says one Pentagon-budgeting veteran who insisted on anonymity in order to keep his job as a lobbyist at the Pentagon.
    The plugs can be staggering in size. In fiscal year 2015, for example, Congress appropriated $122 billion for the US Army. Yet DoD financial records for the Army’s 2015 budget included a whopping $6.5 trillion (yes, trillion) in plugs. Most of these plugs “lack[ed] supporting documentation,” in the bland phrasing of the department’s internal watchdog, the Office of Inspector General. In other words, there were no ledger entries or receipts to back up how that $6.5 trillion supposedly was spent. Indeed, more than 16,000 records that might reveal either the source or the destination of some of that $6.5 trillion had been “removed,” the inspector general’s office reported.
    This Pentagon accounting fraud is déjà vu all over again for Spinney. Back in the 1980s, he and a handful of other reform-minded colleagues exposed how the DoD used a similar accounting trick to inflate Pentagon spending—and to accumulate money for “off-the-books” programs. “DoD routinely over-estimated inflation rates for weapons systems,” Spinney recalled. “When actual inflation turned out to be lower than the estimates, they did not return the excess funds to the Treasury, as required by law, but slipped them into something called a ‘Merged Surplus Account,'” he said.

    “In that way, the Pentagon was able to build up a slush fund of almost $50 billion” (about $120 billion in today’s money), Spinney added. He believes that similar tricks are being used today to fund secret programs, possibly including US Special Forces activity in Niger. That program appears to have been undertaken without Congress’s knowledge of its true nature, which only came to light when a Special Forces unit was ambushed there last year, resulting in the deaths of four US soldiers.
    Digging deep into the OIG’s report on the Army’s 2015 financial statement, the researchers found some peculiar information. Appendix C, page 27, reported that Congress had appropriated $122 billion for the US Army that year. But the appendix also seems to report that the Army had received a cash deposit from the US Treasury of $794.8 billion. That sum was more than six times larger than Congress had appropriated—indeed, it was larger than the entire Pentagon budget for the year. The same appendix showed that the Army had accounts payable (accounting lingo for bills due) totaling $929.3 billion.
    To make sure that fiscal year 2015 was not an anomaly, Skidmore and his graduate students expanded their inquiry, examining OIG reports on Pentagon financial records stretching back to 1998. Time and again, they found that the amounts of money reported as having flowed into and out of the Defense Department were gargantuan, often dwarfing the amounts Congress had appropriated: $1.7 trillion in 1998, $2.3 trillion in 1999, $1.1 trillion in 2000, $1.1 trillion in 2007, $875 billion in 2010, and $1.7 trillion in 2012, plus amounts in the hundreds of billions in other years.
    In all, at least a mind-boggling $21 trillion of Pentagon financial transactions between 1998 and 2015 could not be traced, documented, or explained, concluded Skidmore. To convey the vastness of that sum, $21 trillion is roughly five times more than the entire federal government spends in a year. It is greater than the US Gross National Product, the world’s largest at an estimated $18.8 trillion. And that $21 trillion includes only plugs that were disclosed in reports by the Office of Inspector General, which does not review all of the Pentagon’s spending.
    does not contend that all of this $21 trillion was secret or misused funding. And indeed, the plugs are found on both the positive and the negative sides of the ledger, thus potentially netting each other out. But the Pentagon’s bookkeeping is so obtuse, Skidmore and Fitts added, that it is impossible to trace the actual sources and destinations of the $21 trillion. The disappearance of thousands of records adds further uncertainty. The upshot is that no one can know for sure how much of that $21 trillion was, or was not, being spent legitimately.
    One interested party has taken action—but it is action that’s likely to perpetuate the fraud. The normally obscure Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board sets the accounting standards for all federal agencies. Earlier this year, the board proposed a new guideline saying that agencies that operate classified programs should be permitted to falsify figures in financial statements and shift the accounting of funds to conceal the agency’s classified operations. (No government agency operates more classified programs than the Department of Defense, which includes the National Security Agency.) The new guideline became effective on October 4, just in time for this year’s end-of-year financial statements.
    So here’s the situation: We have a Pentagon budget that a former DOD internal-audit supervisor, Jack Armstrong, bluntly labels “garbage.” We have a Congress unable to evaluate each new fiscal year’s proposed Pentagon budget because it cannot know how much money was actually spent during prior years. And we have a Department of Defense that gives only lip service to fixing any of this. Why should it? The status quo has been generating ever-higher DoD budgets for decades, not to mention bigger profits for Boeing, Lockheed, and other military contractors.




    The apparent fact that our military can disburse many billions for goods and services beyond what is appropriated by Congress further demonstrates that fiat currency does not operate according to the constraints of finite resources. The only limit to our money is the continued existence of civilization.

    National healthcare, housing, and education plz.

    And redeem and expand promises of services to veterans, of course.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dwight Eisenhower
    Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.
    Vitiate Man.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

  2. #2
    Darkside Medic Senior Member rory_20_uk's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Taplow, UK
    Posts
    8,139

    Default Re: Is the Department of Defense the Shadiest Organization in the World?

    When did the EU last pass an audit? Does the CIA get audited? The FSB? Drug cartels?

    Sure, it is probably rank with with corruption and the bigger the more likely for it to occur. But there are many worse than the DoD.

    An enemy that wishes to die for their country is the best sort to face - you both have the same aim in mind.
    Science flies you to the moon, religion flies you into buildings.
    "If you can't trust the local kleptocrat whom you installed by force and prop up with billions of annual dollars, who can you trust?" Lemur
    If you're not a liberal when you're 25, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative by the time you're 35, you have no brain.
    The best argument against democracy is a five minute talk with the average voter. Winston Churchill

  3. #3

    Default Re: Is the Department of Defense the Shadiest Organization in the World?

    Quote Originally Posted by rory_20_uk View Post
    When did the EU last pass an audit? Does the CIA get audited? The FSB? Drug cartels?

    Sure, it is probably rank with with corruption and the bigger the more likely for it to occur. But there are many worse than the DoD.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United...ent_of_Defense
    Employees=2.86 million total[1] (2018)
    https://theconversation.com/how-many...r-the-eu-59702
    The graph below highlights the numbers employed during 2015, broken down by the EU’s “main” institutions. Overall, there were 46,356 people employed across all EU institutions, agencies and bodies.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Security_Service
    Employees: State secret - greater than 262,000 (see text)
    The CIA is like 2% of the DOD in terms of funding and personnel.

    Comparing state agencies to international crime syndicates is not a fair one for evaluating public administration.

    In terms of people and resources, I suspect the DOD is the biggest in the world.
    Last edited by Montmorency; 12-02-2018 at 17:37.
    Vitiate Man.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

  4. #4
    Praefectus Fabrum Senior Member Anime BlackJack Champion, Flash Poker Champion, Word Up Champion, Shape Game Champion, Snake Shooter Champion, Fishwater Challenge Champion, Rocket Racer MX Champion, Jukebox Hero Champion, Cub Shoot 2 Champion, My House Is Bigger Than Your House Champion, Funky Pong Champion, Cutie Quake Champion, Fling The Cow Champion, Treasure Diver Champion, Tiger Punch Champion, Virus Champion, Solitaire Champion, Worm Race Champion, Slack Man Champion, Japanese Baseball Champion, Rope Walker Champion, Penguin Pass Champion, Skate Park Champion, Super Mario Mushroom Champion, Watch Out Champion, Lawn Pac Champion, Weapons Of Mass Destruction Champion, Skate Boarder Champion, Fish Kill Champion, Lane Bowling Champion, Bugz Champion, Makai Grand Prix 2 Champion, KF 9000 Champion, White Van Man Champion, Parachute Panic Champion, BlackJack Champion, Stans Ski Jumping Champion, Smaugs Treasure Champion, Sofa Longjump Champion Seamus Fermanagh's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Latibulm mali regis in muris.
    Posts
    10,720

    Default Re: Is the Department of Defense the Shadiest Organization in the World?

    Quote Originally Posted by rory_20_uk View Post
    When did the EU last pass an audit? Does the CIA get audited? The FSB? Drug cartels?

    Sure, it is probably rank with with corruption and the bigger the more likely for it to occur. But there are many worse than the DoD.

    I would venture to guess that drug cartels are fairly thorough with their accounting and rather rigorous in their corrective measures when someone is learned to be cutting corners. They may not share the books with the government, but I bet there is a shareholder's report.
    "The only way that has ever been discovered to have a lot of people cooperate together voluntarily is through the free market. And that's why it's so essential to preserving individual freedom.” -- Milton Friedman

    "The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule." -- H. L. Mencken

    Members thankful for this post (2):



  5. #5
    Ni dieu ni maître! Senior Member a completely inoffensive name's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    I live on the org, feeding off of what few thanks are tossed at my posts. It is up to you to make sure I don't starve.
    Posts
    8,253
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default Re: Is the Department of Defense the Shadiest Organization in the World?

    Due to the nature of the DoD I suspect it's title of "shadiest" is for a multitude of reasons, that in the bigger picture are not as devious as you would first imagine.

    A. First issue from any DoD spending is that the DoD is the biggest jobs program that the Federal government employs. The number of contractors who suckle off the DoD teets are uncountable and with contractors comes inflated prices. It is an odd arrangement in my own life that I am just beginning to understand (in hopes of figure out something better). Usually contractors will bid (a minimum of three to five in order for the program to qualify for funding), the lowest bidder wins and proceeds to then take its time and run down the purchase order funds. It is logistically impossible to switch horses mid-stream, so you simply extend the contract as many times as needed until it becomes politically nonviable and gets press attention (see F-35 debacle).

    I don't really consider this an issue as the money is funneled through American companies for security reasons and reach American workers. The downside is that we have a very inefficient system that become intractable. Perhaps the way forward is not to keep everything in house (although the political climate for progressives may make that possible in the future) but to reform the way in which contractors bid (do we really need to go with the bottom bidder who is low balling us and lying?) and assign some sort of penalties for overdue projects.

    B. These types of programs can at times be black box projects, where even the amount of resources being funded is too much info for the enemy as it may provoke attention and espionage. In that sense I am not surprised the numbers dont add up, the money has to come from somewhere so you transfer it internally where no one can see it until an audit happens and even then it become difficult to trace.
    Again, for the purposes of national security, I see no problem with this. It is the nature of the beast.

    C. With any large organization there is a degree of incompetence if oversight is not applied. If you think BIG GOVERNMENT spends outrageous amounts of money on the simplest things, you have never worked at a large multinational who purchases its office supplies through "preferred vendors". This is not acceptable, and the fact that the DoD has begun the process of initiating audits leads to believe that we are making progress on this front.
    In all these papers we see a love of honest work, an aversion to shams, a caution in the enunciation of conclusions, a distrust of rash generalizations and speculations based on uncertain premises. He was never anxious to add one more guess on doubtful matters in the hope of hitting the truth, or what might pass as such for a time, but was always ready to take infinite pains in the most careful testing of every theory. With these qualities was united a modesty which forbade the pushing of his own claims and desired no reputation except the unsought tribute of competent judges.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Is the Department of Defense the Shadiest Organization in the World?

    Quote Originally Posted by a completely inoffensive name View Post
    Due to the nature of the DoD I suspect it's title of "shadiest" is for a multitude of reasons, that in the bigger picture are not as devious as you would first imagine.

    A. First issue from any DoD spending is that the DoD is the biggest jobs program that the Federal government employs. The number of contractors who suckle off the DoD teets are uncountable and with contractors comes inflated prices. It is an odd arrangement in my own life that I am just beginning to understand (in hopes of figure out something better). Usually contractors will bid (a minimum of three to five in order for the program to qualify for funding), the lowest bidder wins and proceeds to then take its time and run down the purchase order funds. It is logistically impossible to switch horses mid-stream, so you simply extend the contract as many times as needed until it becomes politically nonviable and gets press attention (see F-35 debacle).

    I don't really consider this an issue as the money is funneled through American companies for security reasons and reach American workers. The downside is that we have a very inefficient system that become intractable. Perhaps the way forward is not to keep everything in house (although the political climate for progressives may make that possible in the future) but to reform the way in which contractors bid (do we really need to go with the bottom bidder who is low balling us and lying?) and assign some sort of penalties for overdue projects.

    B. These types of programs can at times be black box projects, where even the amount of resources being funded is too much info for the enemy as it may provoke attention and espionage. In that sense I am not surprised the numbers dont add up, the money has to come from somewhere so you transfer it internally where no one can see it until an audit happens and even then it become difficult to trace.
    Again, for the purposes of national security, I see no problem with this. It is the nature of the beast.

    C. With any large organization there is a degree of incompetence if oversight is not applied. If you think BIG GOVERNMENT spends outrageous amounts of money on the simplest things, you have never worked at a large multinational who purchases its office supplies through "preferred vendors". This is not acceptable, and the fact that the DoD has begun the process of initiating audits leads to believe that we are making progress on this front.
    You're strangely (naively?) sanguine.

    There are three primary drivers of cosmic bureaucratic misconduct that I see (on the civilian/administrative end specifically):

    1. Hierarchy
    The DoD has countless layers of hierarchy due in part to its rigid and conservative nature as a milsec establishment (even though the trend in modern militaries since at least WW1 has been less hierarchy), and because of the proliferation of minimally-cooperating lateral departments and offices that might as well be different countries despite operating out of the same building, or floor, or adjacent rooms.

    2. Secrecy
    Secrecy breeds contempt of oversight, and I find it strange you are so willing to accept this excuse. We should always be striving to open as much information to the public and to the wider government as is practical. Most things that are secret have no call to be secret.

    3. "Too Big to Fail"
    Because empire calls, because sunk costs, because of those monopsonized private industry contracts you mentioned, because the military is the most trusted institution in the country or close to it and is bound up with all things "patriotic"...

    We see the fruits in... well, in the DoD shifting potentially trillions of dollars not in its budget (we have no way to tell) and in the petty corruption of individual soldiers killing each other (and presumably civilians and locals) over the opportunity to misappropriate black money (see my Errata thread on special operations in Africa). What happened to those pallets of hard cash that disappeared in Iraq and Afghanistan, btw? The "operating loss" we are willing to accept should be limited by rational factors.

    The existence of failed audits is not more a good sign of internal affairs than Trump tweeting a reasonable eulogy for George HW Bush is a positive indicator for his competence as President. As the OP article points out in the first paragraphs, the DoD has refused audits for decades until one was foisted upon them recently. And this audit failed because of stonewalling and incoherent, missing or disappearing records.

    'B-b-but national security' is a terrible excuse, you know it, and you should be fighting it.

    Noting approvingly that money trickles down through defense contractors into the economy is somehow even sadder than thanking billionaires for trickling down tax cuts to the middle class. As with the steel industry, as with employment in general, if the flow of money and jobs is vital (and it is) then it should be nationalized and reorganized up the ass to fulfill core objectives and nothing else. Too many fingers in the pie? 3 seconds to remove the fingers or they get baked in with it. But keep in mind it's not just the private contracts, it's the whole institutional organization and culture that is intolerable.

    I'm glad you at least hinted that large insular private organizations will also see an increasing share of fraud and inefficiency (against the myth of private sector virtue).

    Of course I'm pessimistic because "wag the dog", and the fact that reforming the whole existing defense administration is a task likely more complex than building a national health service in the United States from the ground up, even on the level of changing the whole economic system of the world. The only hopeful aspect to this story is that it can help teach us that government debt is irrelevant in our world and that we should spend whatever we damn need to secure designated outcomes (which we should shoot for the sky on). How's that for a compromise?
    Vitiate Man.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

  7. #7
    Iron Fist Senior Member Husar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Germany
    Posts
    15,427

    Default Re: Is the Department of Defense the Shadiest Organization in the World?

    Well, in the movies the CIA and other government agencies always illegally acquires funds for its black ops and stuff, no wonder the records are broken.
    There's probably a secret cabal that runs the country and siphons off Pentagon funds and then makes all the records unanalyzable so the money can't be traced.

    If there's anything I learned from Snowden and Trump, it's that the movies we thought of as suspenseful fictional stories, are more like documentaries.


    "Topic is tired and needs a nap." - Tosa Inu

  8. #8
    Praefectus Fabrum Senior Member Anime BlackJack Champion, Flash Poker Champion, Word Up Champion, Shape Game Champion, Snake Shooter Champion, Fishwater Challenge Champion, Rocket Racer MX Champion, Jukebox Hero Champion, Cub Shoot 2 Champion, My House Is Bigger Than Your House Champion, Funky Pong Champion, Cutie Quake Champion, Fling The Cow Champion, Treasure Diver Champion, Tiger Punch Champion, Virus Champion, Solitaire Champion, Worm Race Champion, Slack Man Champion, Japanese Baseball Champion, Rope Walker Champion, Penguin Pass Champion, Skate Park Champion, Super Mario Mushroom Champion, Watch Out Champion, Lawn Pac Champion, Weapons Of Mass Destruction Champion, Skate Boarder Champion, Fish Kill Champion, Lane Bowling Champion, Bugz Champion, Makai Grand Prix 2 Champion, KF 9000 Champion, White Van Man Champion, Parachute Panic Champion, BlackJack Champion, Stans Ski Jumping Champion, Smaugs Treasure Champion, Sofa Longjump Champion Seamus Fermanagh's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Latibulm mali regis in muris.
    Posts
    10,720

    Default Re: Is the Department of Defense the Shadiest Organization in the World?

    Monty:

    You should look over Graham Allison's stuff about organizational process and governmental politics in Essence of Decision. The DoD is only the biggest example -- those trends/themes are part of every bureaucratic organization.


    And the flattened hierarchy of modern militaries is true tactically, not bureaucratically.
    "The only way that has ever been discovered to have a lot of people cooperate together voluntarily is through the free market. And that's why it's so essential to preserving individual freedom.” -- Milton Friedman

    "The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule." -- H. L. Mencken

  9. #9

    Default Re: Is the Department of Defense the Shadiest Organization in the World?

    Quote Originally Posted by Seamus Fermanagh View Post
    Monty:

    You should look over Graham Allison's stuff about organizational process and governmental politics in Essence of Decision. The DoD is only the biggest example -- those trends/themes are part of every bureaucratic organization.


    And the flattened hierarchy of modern militaries is true tactically, not bureaucratically.
    Well, yes to the flattened hierarchy, but my point is that it ought perhaps be applied on the civilian bureaucratic side as well.

    The size, age, and complexity of our military work against us. What I get from Mariana Mazzucato's The Entrepreneurial State is a picture of how the government encourages flexibility and risk-taking in its economic and technological research activities far beyond what can be expected of The Market. What would it look like to apply these lessons to the actual Behemoth? You know, since inefficiency and incompetence are not even necessarily the problem per se compared to deliberate obfuscation and unaccountability (we can always buy efficiency in the event of a real war). Moving along, the question mutates into the same one that plagues alike reformists and revolutionaries of all stripes: 'Can we break the establishment without fatally compromising its existing or prospective functionality?'

    Or, I guess, without getting a military dictatorship. Because that's how you get a military dictatorship.
    Last edited by Montmorency; 12-03-2018 at 14:23.
    Vitiate Man.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

  10. #10
    Darkside Medic Senior Member rory_20_uk's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Taplow, UK
    Posts
    8,139

    Default Re: Is the Department of Defense the Shadiest Organization in the World?

    Israel has a great need to be efficient and limited resources. So they have often found innovative ways of doing things that tend to be a lot quicker and cheaper than they will be with the designated contractor in the USA.

    As far as I know (and I know no more than is freely available online) these methods are hardly taken up with open arms by the DoD in USA - frankly they'd be well served almost using the Israel military as their "Skunkworks" of finding more nimble ways of doing things - but who is interested in reducing the pork that is available?

    An enemy that wishes to die for their country is the best sort to face - you both have the same aim in mind.
    Science flies you to the moon, religion flies you into buildings.
    "If you can't trust the local kleptocrat whom you installed by force and prop up with billions of annual dollars, who can you trust?" Lemur
    If you're not a liberal when you're 25, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative by the time you're 35, you have no brain.
    The best argument against democracy is a five minute talk with the average voter. Winston Churchill

  11. #11

    Default Re: Is the Department of Defense the Shadiest Organization in the World?

    Quote Originally Posted by rory_20_uk View Post
    Israel has a great need to be efficient and limited resources. So they have often found innovative ways of doing things that tend to be a lot quicker and cheaper than they will be with the designated contractor in the USA.

    As far as I know (and I know no more than is freely available online) these methods are hardly taken up with open arms by the DoD in USA - frankly they'd be well served almost using the Israel military as their "Skunkworks" of finding more nimble ways of doing things - but who is interested in reducing the pork that is available?

    There's every reason to suspect shady finances and opaque bureaucracy in the Israeli military, given knowledge only of the missions they engage in.

    The US military does indeed have a much wider margin of error, but the IDF has not faced a conventional opponent in almost 40 years (Lebanon 1982; 50 years for multiple oppnents in the 1973 war). Didn't they notoriously have difficulty against Hezbollah in 2006? And Hezbollah has been going hard in Syria, while the IDF has stagnated except in covert ops, air strikes, and brutalizing civilian protestors...
    Vitiate Man.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

  12. #12
    Ni dieu ni maître! Senior Member a completely inoffensive name's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    I live on the org, feeding off of what few thanks are tossed at my posts. It is up to you to make sure I don't starve.
    Posts
    8,253
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default Re: Is the Department of Defense the Shadiest Organization in the World?

    Quote Originally Posted by Montmorency View Post
    You're strangely (naively?) sanguine.
    I am willing to lean on the side of overdoing it than the opposite. Maintaining Pax Americana will never be anything less than a drain on our national coffers.

    2. Secrecy
    Secrecy breeds contempt of oversight, and I find it strange you are so willing to accept this excuse. We should always be striving to open as much information to the public and to the wider government as is practical. Most things that are secret have no call to be secret.
    Any deviations from my normal political reasoning is due to my fear of China. Despite my own thoughts on the failure of the Chinese state to maintain stable political grounds for the future, the Chinese system as of today is running very well and playing catch-up through both their own internal policies but also through massive corporate and political espionage. This is an area where we as citizens feel we are getting bamboozled, and I think given our position we must simply accept such bamboozling to an extent reasonable to secure our own advantages against foreign powers. We agree on the principle but I think the degree of openness is something we differ on. I would consider it to be "naive" if we are looking for anything more than rough metrics of 'lost money' and total spent as measures to trim down inefficiencies.

    3. "Too Big to Fail"
    Because empire calls, because sunk costs, because of those monopsonized private industry contracts you mentioned, because the military is the most trusted institution in the country or close to it and is bound up with all things "patriotic"...
    We see the fruits in... well, in the DoD shifting potentially trillions of dollars not in its budget (we have no way to tell) and in the petty corruption of individual soldiers killing each other (and presumably civilians and locals) over the opportunity to misappropriate black money (see my Errata thread on special operations in Africa). What happened to those pallets of hard cash that disappeared in Iraq and Afghanistan, btw? The "operating loss" we are willing to accept should be limited by rational factors.
    I agree with this, but of course that's why Congress has taken the measure of having oversight committees that limit such deep dives to only members on the committees which can signal their displeasure to their colleagues on the hill. Accountability does not necessarily come from publicizing this information but from public pressure on the selected watchmen among our elected officials.

    The existence of failed audits is not more a good sign of internal affairs than Trump tweeting a reasonable eulogy for George HW Bush is a positive indicator for his competence as President. As the OP article points out in the first paragraphs, the DoD has refused audits for decades until one was foisted upon them recently. And this audit failed because of stonewalling and incoherent, missing or disappearing records.
    Baby steps?

    'B-b-but national security' is a terrible excuse, you know it, and you should be fighting it.
    National security is not a terrible excuse, but is often abused. We need to weigh the factors rationally and come to a decision on whether 'national security' is justified.

    Noting approvingly that money trickles down through defense contractors into the economy is somehow even sadder than thanking billionaires for trickling down tax cuts to the middle class. As with the steel industry, as with employment in general, if the flow of money and jobs is vital (and it is) then it should be nationalized and reorganized up the ass to fulfill core objectives and nothing else. Too many fingers in the pie? 3 seconds to remove the fingers or they get baked in with it. But keep in mind it's not just the private contracts, it's the whole institutional organization and culture that is intolerable.
    Nah, I don't think you appreciate just how socialist this system is. We are artificially inflating a demand for highly educated positions and propping up local economies in every state of the union (at least one region of SoCal exist solely around aerospace companies having their facilities there, kept alive by DoD money/contracts. This is money coming from a progressive tax base, so it is in effect a redistribution of wealth downwards and provides many perks as well.

    Nationalize the organization? I mentioned that in my post, not until the progressive message becomes mainstream. Otherwise, as I said you will need reforms on how contracts are formed and how the DoD oversees timelines and compliance in its project management.

    I'm glad you at least hinted that large insular private organizations will also see an increasing share of fraud and inefficiency (against the myth of private sector virtue).
    Of course, the larger the organization the more codified all transactions become in order to minimize "risk" and increase reliability of supply chains. The result is increased costs.
    I'll put you on the "good list" if you promise to have what I need in stock at all times, ready to give it to me at any point in the future (or at least move me to the front of the line).
    So now if I want a stapler, I have to call them first and pay whatever they want, but hey I get the exact stapler I want, when I need it.

    Of course I'm pessimistic because "wag the dog", and the fact that reforming the whole existing defense administration is a task likely more complex than building a national health service in the United States from the ground up, even on the level of changing the whole economic system of the world. The only hopeful aspect to this story is that it can help teach us that government debt is irrelevant in our world and that we should spend whatever we damn need to secure designated outcomes (which we should shoot for the sky on). How's that for a compromise?
    We can do better, but we as citizens just won't know why or how. There are bigger fish to tackle much more viable politically (healthcare).
    Last edited by a completely inoffensive name; 12-04-2018 at 04:42.
    In all these papers we see a love of honest work, an aversion to shams, a caution in the enunciation of conclusions, a distrust of rash generalizations and speculations based on uncertain premises. He was never anxious to add one more guess on doubtful matters in the hope of hitting the truth, or what might pass as such for a time, but was always ready to take infinite pains in the most careful testing of every theory. With these qualities was united a modesty which forbade the pushing of his own claims and desired no reputation except the unsought tribute of competent judges.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Is the Department of Defense the Shadiest Organization in the World?

    Quote Originally Posted by a completely inoffensive name View Post
    I am willing to lean on the side of overdoing it than the opposite. Maintaining Pax Americana will never be anything less than a drain on our national coffers.
    Seeing as the United States will remain an empire as long as it exists, and we want a more peaceable or at least helpful empire that isn't just the ultimate capitalist hound dog, we may have no choice but to become Trotskyites. That is, reparametrize Empire toward a healthier outlet. This obviously has implications with respect to China and geopolitics. Seems like it'll come to an influence war in the Third World over access to key resources, with America promising Justice and the Chinese promising hard cash, no questions asked.

    Essentially the New Order/Comintern/Human Alliance or whatever has to ensure common prosperity at least as well as China has, preferably much better to justify transitioning economy, while being ideologically and morally superior in conscripting the "hearts and minds" of citizens under it. And so it should spread across the world from the grassroots, with the endgame being a popular revolt in China against the police state, us hopefully hanging in the background as an exemplar: 'Why do we need repression and mediocre prosperity when we can have both freedom and prosperity like the foreigners?'

    But this isn't a primarily military campaign, and the gravity of their edifice is so great that it could easily corrupt government or subjure foreign policy (inasmuch as the Left won't have a coherent alternative theory to defend). So when you say that national security is a good excuse that can be abused, the hairs split may be impossibly thin. Let me reiterate for the howeverth time that mere inefficiency at the DoD isn't the core problem unless you have a Kubrickian laser focus on competing with China on narrow metrics, it's the fundamental corruption and taint of the organization and its overseers. We know for sure that most of these chuckleheads aren't nearly as smart or skilled as they claim, to be allowed to have such de facto authority over so much of the state and society.

    Given our establishment's grand strategic track record, I also am not even sure we could trust the military on their terms to guarantee superiority over or even parity with the Chinese. So if you're worried about China, that's fair, but it's a whole cluster that we can't begin to approach without specialized knowledge. Let the default attitude be suspicion.

    Nah, I don't think you appreciate just how socialist this system is. We are artificially inflating a demand for highly educated positions and propping up local economies in every state of the union (at least one region of SoCal exist solely around aerospace companies having their facilities there, kept alive by DoD money/contracts. This is money coming from a progressive tax base, so it is in effect a redistribution of wealth downwards and provides many perks as well.
    Government spending and patronage are certainly not inherently socialist, and even if they were it doesn't make it good or right. Like I said somewhere else, if the expertise of the engineers and researchers is the absolutely indispensable asset, put them on payroll doing non-functional tinkering in the shops and labs. If wealth redistribution is the goal, get on with the Universal Income and Job Guarantee schemes.

    We can do better, but we as citizens just won't know why or how. There are bigger fish to tackle much more viable politically (healthcare).
    I admitted as much where you quote me. Just remember that none of these items are dissociable from the rest in a real government and society. The world is so amazingly complex I, as ever, can't help but be pessimistic.




    Chesterton's Fence as an analogy has always been a fallacy. There isn't a fence but a rather sloppy Jenga tower.

    Last edited by Montmorency; 12-04-2018 at 14:09.
    Vitiate Man.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Single Sign On provided by vBSSO