Categorized | National, Opinion

Wasting Billions of Tax Dollars on Nothing

 

Corporate Contractors’ Heavy Burdens on Taxpayers

 

**VIDEO**

 

Ralph Nader
RalphNader.org

 

Next time you hear federal officials say that there is no money to repair or build necessary public facilities in your community, ask them why there always seems to be money to greatly overpay for government projects routinely outsourced to corporate contractors.

It is important to understand why incomplete projects such as the proposed campus-like Department of Homeland Security in Washington DC, the “cleanup” of the biggest repository of radioactive waste in the US at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Southeastern Washington State, the ballistic missile defense program, and the pie-in-the-sky fusion reactors have gone way over budget.  They are either behind schedule, or without any clue for completion or cessation.

First the dismal scenes: According to the Washington Post,

“The construction of a massive new headquarters for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) … is running more than $1.5 billion over budget, is 11 years behind schedule and may never be completed, according to planning documents and federal officials.  The entire complex was to be finished as early as this year, at a cost of less than $3 billion.”

 

Only one of the buildings for the Coast Guard has opened at DHS.

Second, at Hanford, more than $30 billion has already been spent for the “cleanup,” under a Tri-Party Agreement between the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. EPA and the Washington State Department of Ecology.

Started in 1989, the effort had a proposed 30 year timetable.  Instead, Hanford officials say they are decades and tens of billions of dollars from completion of this admittedly sprawling brew of atomic weapons waste in 177 giant underground storage tanks and nine nuclear reactors.

Third, the much ballyhooed Department of Energy’s Fusion Energy Science program has been receiving federal funding since 1951 and has not yet had a replicable successful discovery from which to generate affordable energy.

It is a boondoggle annuity for contracting university physicists and companies who once in awhile issue a news release announcing a presumed partial step forward as to keep hope alive for awe-struck science writers.

As the late physicist, Norman Milleron, a critic who worked at the Lawrence Livermore Lab was wont to say: “why not focus on the best fusion reactor we’ll ever have– the Sun?

Fourth, for thirty-years the ballistic missile defense pork barrel has fed the likes of Raytheon and the insatiable corporate lobby that has grown up to feed off the tens of billions of dollars already spent– over $9 billion this year, almost as much as the EPA’s budget.

Unfortunately the test results show ballistic missile defense systems don’t work.  Nor will it likely ever have substantial success.

So dubious is this endless program, that years ago the American Physical Society delivered the ultimate denunciation:  they declared the mission unworkable.  The leading opponent, Prof. Theodore Postol of MIT continues to dissect its stumbling, deceptive history and how Congress continues its annual deceptions as it writes gigantic taxpayer checks.

The examples cannot compare to the tens of billions of dollars in ‘cost-overuns’ on the F-35 and F-22 fighter planes whose Pentagon orders from Lockheed-Martin keep being reduced because of the sky-rocketing cost of each plane. 

The F-35 is now at $115 million each.  The F-22’s last plane in 2009 cost $137 million, the equivalent to $151 million in 2014 dollars.  The F-35 is still in early production after decades of trouble.

What gives here?  How could the remarkable P-38 of World War II come in at $1.3 million a plane, inflation-adjusted, and be produced so quickly in 1944?

Corporations knowingly submitted unrealistic budgets– “lowballing”– to win federal contracts and funding of these projects instead of opting for adequate, more feasible and frugal alternatives.  Congress enacts perpetuating pork barreling by default.

Least noticed are the detailed terms of the contracts themselves.  

Tighter contracts could have held the government and contractors’ feet to the fire in a variety of ways that could be culled from the history of past successful projects that came in on time and budget.

Contract terms could include: putting named compliance officers on the hot seat;  automatic disclosure to the public of the full texts of the contracts, including their observance over time;  more breaking points to penalize and/or jettison contractors;  and better oversight of the early planning process by Congressional Committees are roads to good performances.

Powerful special interest lobby push for sweetheart deals.  These aforementioned projects will continue to waste taxpayers’ dollars.  This crony capitalism is disgraceful.

In all this miasma, there are vastly over-budget delays, screw-ups and incompletions.  Nassim Talib elaborated on this topic in his under-appreciated recent book– Antifragile (2012).  He writes about the importance of having “skin in the game,” noting that Roman engineers had “to spend some time under the bridge they built– something that should be required of financial engineers today.”

From all pertinent directions regarding a project, the supposedly responsible people need to have skin in the game.  It does wonders for focusing attention.

It starts with the people who conceive, plan, and fund projects.

And it doesn’t leave out the lawyers who draft those porous contracts filled with escape clauses.

~Courtesy Ralph Nader and Nader.org

 

Ralph Nader is one of America’s most effective social critics. 

Named by The Atlantic as one of the 100 most influential figures in American history and by Time and Life magazines as one of the hundred most influential Americans of the twentieth century, his documented criticism of government and industry has had widespread effect on public awareness and bureaucratic power.

A prolific author, his inspiration and example have galvanized a whole population of consumer advocates, citizen activists, and public interest lawyers who in turn have established their own organizations throughout the country.

* * * * * * * * * *

Our government waste and overspending needs to stop.

In 2009, the United States government spent some $650 billion on its military, more than the next 46 highest-spending countries combined.  Much of this ended up in the hands of profit-driven weapons manufacturers.

Congress needs to reign back the wasteful spending, budget overruns, and what President Eisenhower famously called the “military industrial complex.”

With the U.S. having waged two wars overseas at the same time millions of people were out of work at home, those pushing to reel in government spending and balance the budget would be wise to look carefully at bloated and unchecked military spending that has continued ever since.

 

Like this article or others?

Please share it with others.
And we’d love you to join  us
on Twitter and Facebook, too.

Leave a Reply

HumSentinel on Twitter

RSS Progressive Review

  • Per drug user visits to emergency rooms
     Washington Post  […]
  • Word: Zionism in trouble
    Franklin Lamb, Counterpunch - Despite all the American governments’ current display of massive support for Israel, survival of the apartheid regime is not at all assured. Specifically, Europe, South America, and parts of Asia’s skyrocketing antipathy towards Israel are more than just bluster. Israelis are correct in thinking that they can no longer count on […]
  • Younger workers still not finding jobs
    Zero Hedge - According to the BLS' household survey, while overall July jobs rose, if modestly less than the 209K revealed by the establishment survey, there was no joy for those aged 25-54: historically the most important and highest earning age group (in case anyone is wondering where all that missing average hourly earnings growth is) within the US l […]
  • Why labor unions are necessary
    From 50 years of our overstocked archives Sam Smith, 2011 - If you came of age in the past ten years and don't belong to a union or come from a family of union members, chances are most of what you've heard about these labor organizations has been, on balance, negative. Which helps to explain why as late as a decade ago, two thirds of Americans app […]
  • Furthermore. . .
    The United Nations has said almost 24% of Gaza's population have fled their homes....UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos told a UN Security Council hearing the total number of displaced people in Gaza now stands at 440,000. That includes 240,000 people who have sought refuge in UN shelters.1451 Palestinians, 59 Israelis DeadCoreLogic, a California compan […]
  • California's drought worsens
    Richard Brenneman - While all of the state remains in a condition of Severe Drought, the latest United States Drought Monitor map reveals a dramatic increase of in the region ranked in the most severe Exceptional Drought category, which now covers 58.4 percent of the Golden State, compared to last week’s 36.5 percent. The critically impacted region now inclu […]
  • Another corporate myth dismantled
    USA Today -  Bosses who yell, threaten and micromanage their way to the top, often at the expense of miserable underlings are all too common in today's workplaces.But the Tony Sopranos and Darth Vaders of popular culture are not the most effective CEOs in the real world, according to a new study from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State Un […]
  • Americans still overwhelmingly negative on a lower drinking age
    Alternet - A newly released Gallup study confirms that Americans on the whole are still very much a conservative bunch when it comes to alcohol. The majority still reject a federal law that would lower the minimum drinking age to 18.  A whopping 74 percent of the 1,013 adults aged 18 or older who were surveyed said they would oppose such legislation, which i […]
  • Corporate money causing civil rights group to go off course on net neutrality
    Huffington Post - The NAACP and several other major civil rights groups have emerged as flashpoints in the debate over net neutrality, the idea that all Internet traffic should be treated equally.More than 40 civil rights groups are supporting broadband providers that oppose strict net neutrality rules. The civil rights groups say they're siding with th […]
  • The People's Party on campaign financing
    How Americans are distanced from both their major parties A majority of likely voters among Democrats (75%), Independents (64%) and Republicans (54%) see the wave of spending by Super PACs this election cycle as “wrong and leads to our elected officials representing the views of wealthy donors.”MORE […]
  • Meanwhile. . .
    The difference between Orwell and HuxleyStudents protesting against North Face Another bomb in DC's school test mania […]
  • How sanctions will really affect Russian oil
    Richard Heinberg, Ecowatch - The New York Times reports that “The United States and Europe kicked off a joint effort on Tuesday intended to curb Russia’s long-term ability to develop new oil resources.” The new sanctions would deny Russia access to western technology needed to access polar oil and deepwater oil, as well as tight oil produced by hydrofracturi […]
  • Action links
    NEWS   Action news   How to plan your own Moral Monday Building peace teams ACTIONS Detroit Water Brigade Moral Mondays Tar Sands protests Occupy ACLU Bad Ass Teachers BOYCOTTS Hobby Lobby IsraelAcademic/Cultural Koch Brothers Nestle Staples Walmart Monsanto Essays Where change really comes from Running out of change The Clinton-Obama-Alinsky myth   Activism […]
  • Pocket paradigms
    If global dumbing is not halted, we may wake up one morning and find that no one in this country knows how to make anything anymore. We may discover our dearest friends and relatives in a catatonic state before the TV and the device won't even be on. When we call for help we may find that 911 has become an endless loop voice mail system from which one c […]
  • Word
    The censorial power is in the people over the government and not in the government over the people -- James Madison […]