Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Chopping Block

A very serious crisis is now looming in defense aquisition for the Defense Department. Skyrocketing costs in purchasing new weapons are now so absurdly high that only a few hundred or few dozen units of fighters and ships can now be bought without bankrupting the United States. Ridiculously priced aircraft like the F-22 (estimated cost of $200 million per airplane) to the new Littoral Combat Ship (price is $350 million and climbing) is seriously hampering the ability of the Pentagon to buy new weapons while replacing old and worn out equipment. The individual cost of nearly all new weapon systems have caused the total collapse of any new helicopter program and is primed to scuttle the US Navy from an all-important 600 ship fleet to below 300 vessels, which is clearly not enough warships to police the seas.

Part of the problem is former US military officials being hired by defense companies to lobby the Department of Defense and Congress, a clear violation of ethics and defense preparedness standards. These lobbyists work the corridors of Congress and the Pentagon, trying to get officials in those hallowed halls to buy any and all their projects, even if they are not needed. This costs the US taxpayers billions of dollars in unnecessary waste and threatens the financial stability of the DOD.

Second, the overall scheme of defense contracting needs to be re-evaluated. The current trend in military spending has basically gutted the defense industry, leaving just a few ultra-large companies vying for defense dollars. This is a very serious problem because if just one or two companies can build the planes that the US military desperately needs, these companies apparently have no qualms about adding cost overruns that grow to hundreds of millions of dollars. For example, the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) was a brand new series of vessels (corvette-sized) that were intended to be cheaper than destroyers and frigates plus do more jobs that both of those ships could do. Estimated costs were less than $200 million per warship but under Lockheed Martin's disastrous construction and oversight, the cost of the first LCS ballooned to over $350 million per vessel, almost double the original estimate, which caused the US Navy to pull the plug on this important program.

I believe cost overruns like this are intentional since Lockheed Martin knows that the US Navy cannot just go down the hall to the their competitors and order the same ship. Such actions on the part of Lockheed are nearly criminal and should be stopped, and here's how:

The Chopping Block
My (simple) idea is that the top 100 leaders in a company will be listed with any new contract. If a ship or plane program goes over budget, then these 100 people cannot work on any new project for the entire US government, period. By holding the leaders of each company accountable, it will force them to avoid cost overruns like the plague and the US military will be able to afford the equipment it needs. As of now, the US Air Force wants to buy the F-22, but it can only afford around 200 of the planes. This is absurd and the defense contractors MUST be held accountable for all financial disasters in critically important programs like the F-22 and LCS.

A second idea is to break up all design groups in defense companies into small "think tank" like organizations. Each think tank would design a weapon system and individual companies would vie for the contract to build the item. If a specific defense contractor company went over budget, it could be handed off to another defense contractor for production instead.

After looking at the billions and billions of dollars wasted on programs like the Comanche and the Sergeant York, the US Congress and Pentagon needs to wise up and reshape how buying military equipment is done. After all, it's our money....

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Pro-Environment, Anti-Family?
While delegates from every corner of the globe are gathered in Bali to hammer out a new environmental treaty, there have been several reports in recent days casting some doubt on the science of global warming and the underpinnings of this new protocol effort. For example, researchers from the Universities of Rochester, Alabama and Virginia have found that observable measurements (i.e. reality) are not matching up to the predictions of computer-generated climate change models. They believe, according to their research, that “what’s causing the warming are changes in the sun.” They also note, “We have to remember that the climate has always been changing ever since we have records… We know that there have been huge climate changes on earth…” Moreover, Brazil’s MetSul Weather Center reports that snow and ice in the Arctic is within one percent of normal (winter hasn’t even started yet!), and ice on the southern polar ice cap has grown substantially compared to last year.

Now, we can reasonably and rationally debate the science and seriousness of global warming, but I’ve been arguing for some time that there is a hidden agenda lurking behind much of the hype. Cloaked in concern for the environment, it is becoming increasingly obvious that this movement is just another attempt by the Left to control our economy and your life. For years conservatives and pro-family advocates in this country have fought for family-friendly tax policies, such as the per-child tax credit. But the radical Left has something else in mind for your family – all in the name of saving the planet, of course.

Recently, a west Australian medical expert published an article calling for families with more than two children to pay a $5,000-plus “baby levy” at birth and an annual carbon tax of up to $800 per child to pay for enough trees to offset the carbon emissions generated over each child’s lifetime. It’s not a major leap to go from punitive taxation to a ban on childbearing, much like communist China’s one-child policy, which has led to forced abortions and sterilizations. But to prove just how extreme some in the environmentalist movement are, a heart-wrenching story appeared recently in the British media about women who have chosen not to have children because, as one woman put it, “…a baby would pollute the planet -- and that never having a child was the most environmentally friendly thing I could do.”

Sadly, another woman interviewed for the article was so brainwashed by this pro-environment/anti-family ideology that when she learned she was pregnant, she was so horrified she got an abortion and spent the next two years searching for a doctor who would sterilize her. The sacrifice of her child in the womb for the sake of the environment reminds me of the ancient civilizations whose people would ritually sacrifice babies on alters to appease pagan earth gods. While I do believe it is imperative that we are good stewards of the environment, I am mindful that we worship the Creator and not the creation. When our priorities become so grossly distorted, it is inevitable that public policy will become equally distorted.

The Left’s Hatred
Americans were shocked this week when news broke that a gunman had opened fire on a Christian missionary center and a mega-church in Colorado, killing four and wounding several others. It was even more disturbing to learn that the shooter was motivated by a bizarre hatred of Christians, as were the Columbine killers and the Virginia Tech murderer. Where does such hatred come from? Here’s one example.

Our staff regularly monitors the websites of the radical Left – just to know what the opposition is up to. This morning we were stunned to find a post on the site of a homosexual blogger (who has been on a crusade to “out” Republican members of Congress) that reads, “It’s official!!!! Democrats are a bunch of [expletive] wimps.” His ever-so-tolerant post provided a link to a roll call vote taken in the House of Representatives this week. What could lead a homosexual activist to level such invective at the Democrats? Needless to say, we were very curious. Had the new majority suddenly reversed course and passed the marriage protection amendment or banned homosexual adoptions? What earth-shattering news had we missed? Are you ready for this? On Tuesday, the House overwhelmingly voted in support of a resolution recognizing the importance of Christmas and the Christian faith in the founding of the United States and formation of Western Civilization. Amazingly, the rage of this militant homosexual activist was focused on the fact that only nine Democrats voted against the resolution recognizing Christmas and Christianity.

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