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There Is Plenty To Cut At the Pentagon

timothy posted about a year ago | from the sacred-cows-make-great-brisket dept.

The Military 484

Hugh Pickens writes "William D. Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, writes that although we have been bombarded with tales of woe about the potentially devastating impacts of cutting the Pentagon budget 8% under the sequester, examples of egregious waste and misplaced spending priorities at the Pentagon abound. One need look no further than the department's largest weapons program, the F-35 combat aircraft, which has just been grounded again after a routine inspection revealed a crack on a turbine blade in the jet engine of an F-35 test aircraft in California. Even before it has moved into full-scale production, the plane has already increased in price by 75%, and it has so far failed to meet basic performance standards. By the Pentagon's own admission, building and operating three versions of the F-35 — one for the Air Force, one for the Navy and one for the Marines — will cost more than $1.4 trillion over its lifetime, making it the most expensive weapons program ever undertaken. And in an era in which aerial combat is of diminishing importance and upgraded versions of current generation U.S. aircraft can more than do the job, it is not at all clear that we need to purchase more than 2,400 of these planes. Cutting the two most expensive versions of the F-35 will save over $60 billion in the next decade."

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484 comments

I say cut the F-35 (4, Informative)

jonwil (467024) | about a year ago | (#42988737)

As an Aussie who saw the Howard government jump on board with Bush on this overpriced boondoggle (without even considering if other aircraft, American, European or otherwise were suitable for our needs at a cheaper price), cutting it completly and forcing Australia to evaluate ALL the options for aircraft suitable for our defense needs would be a good thing.

Re:I say cut the F-35 (2, Insightful)

aurispector (530273) | about a year ago | (#42988757)

Although the F-35 is the poster child for poor procurement processes, the simple fact of the matter is that entitlement spending dwarfs defense spending.

Finding waste in government spending is easy. It's present everywhere, all the time. For every egregious example of waste in military spending you are guaranteed to find a proportional amount in any other program.

The only effective way to control it is through competition in a free market. The more a given market comes under government control, the less competition and freedom exists and the more wasteful it becomes. It's human nature.

Re:I say cut the F-35 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42988809)

No. Greed is human nature. You must work on Wall Street.

Re:I say cut the F-35 (2)

KiloByte (825081) | about a year ago | (#42988961)

Yes, but you can put that greed to your advantage: "the one who delivers the best product for its price gets to profit". All it takes is eliminating or vastly reducing corruption. Considering that the US is the only country in the world that outright legalised corruption ("campaign donations"), this would be pretty hard.

Re:I say cut the F-35 (4, Insightful)

jamstar7 (694492) | about a year ago | (#42989013)

The company with the deepest pockets to litigate its opponents into bankruptcy and bribe legislatures into passing laws only in its favor is the company that gets its products to market. Or, at least, that's the way it's been going for the last what, 50 years or so?

Re:I say cut the F-35 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42989065)

That strawman you're using is inaccurate.

Re:I say cut the F-35 (4, Insightful)

nbauman (624611) | about a year ago | (#42988821)

The major entitlement spending is for Medicare and Social Security. People are entitled to Medicare and Social Security because they paid for them all their lives.

Do you propose that the government not pay people the benefits they paid for as part of a contract?

That would be like buying health insurance from a private company, and having them decide not to pay you when you get sick and need it, because that would be a good way for them to save money.

Re:I say cut the F-35 (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42988907)

The challenge you face with the insurance company analogy is the insurance company can go bankrupt. The Federal government just prints more money. We have to face reality, a vast majority of people get considerably more out of Social Security and Medicare then they put in.

This is simply not sustainable. This includes my parents too.

At this moment the we are borrowing .46 cents of every dollar we are spending. That is simply not sustainable. Hard choices are in our future and I think we should face reality now while we still have some control over our destiny.

I do not want to wake up one morning and discover the world has decided that a US dollar is just a piece of paper with dead white guys face on it and nothing more.

Re:I say cut the F-35 (5, Interesting)

hrvatska (790627) | about a year ago | (#42989143)

Some insurance companies can go bankrupt. Others, like AIG, apparently cannot. And probably, if any of the other large insurance companies that provide millions of seniors with retirement income through annuities was about to go bankrupt, the federal government and the Fed would likely figure out a way to keep it afloat and continue paying on its obligations. If you think Social Security has problems, it is nothing compared to the coming problems faced by China's pension system. It has worse demographics and the retirement age is much lower (55 for women, 60 for men) than in the U.S. And, it's not just China and the US. Japan, Europe in general, Brazil, and Russia face the same dilemma. I don't think every major country's currency is going to become worthless and I don't think they are going throw all their elderly out on the street, either. There are fixes for both Social Security and Medicare, but political gridlock in Washington prevents any meaningful change.

Re:I say cut the F-35 (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42988933)

And this is exactly what insurance companies do when a real catastrophe happens. Like Katrina.

Insurances and healthcare should be public and paid by taxes because from a profit perspective they have much more profit when they don't do their job and this alone is an incentive for private companies to not do what they are paid for.

Re:I say cut the F-35 (4, Insightful)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about a year ago | (#42989011)

I agree that Medicare should remain, but I disagree with the role of Social Security. SS is designed as a safety net, but in popular use, has been pushed into the role of a retirement income supplement.

I would prefer it stay as a safety net (kick in when little money or value is left because you lived longer than you expected to, say, 10 years after retirement). Some system to reduce its cost. Though, even SS isn't so bad, since, in theory, it is already paid for.

If we had bumped taxes and cut spending when the economy was good (pre2008, in which Bush did the opposite to boost his popularity) and then cut taxes and boosted spending when the collapse happened, we wouldn't be having these discussions.

Re:I say cut the F-35 (3, Interesting)

nbauman (624611) | about a year ago | (#42989173)

I've seen economists say that you can't buy an annuity on the free market that would give you as good a return as Social Security.

It's one of those things that the government can do more efficiently than private enterprise.

Re:I say cut the F-35 (1)

NEDHead (1651195) | about a year ago | (#42989189)

SS has never been a 'paid for' plan. It was always predicated on more and more current workers paying for the retiree benefits. Sometimes a surplus to be sure, but never 'fully funded' for an individual by that individual's contributions. People living longer after retirement ( indeed, too many actually reaching 65 in the first place) and a slowing in the employed population growth rate have totally vacated the initial concept.

Not an argument pro or con, just a suggestion that you get over the idea that you are paying into your retirement account as you work. FICA is a tax to pay current obligations, no more, no less.

Re:I say cut the F-35 (2)

JBMcB (73720) | about a year ago | (#42989019)

Do you propose that the government not pay people the benefits they paid for as part of a contract?

There is no contract, there's just a law saying the government takes your money and will give it back later. That law can (and has) been changed.

Re:I say cut the F-35 (3, Insightful)

nbauman (624611) | about a year ago | (#42989039)

So after the government has taken all this money, you would change the law to say that the government won't give it back to me?

Re:I say cut the F-35 (1, Troll)

ilicas (2799301) | about a year ago | (#42989061)

since the government has already spent the money, i'd rather acknowledge this, and have you go bankrupt than have the government go bankrupt (or start devaluing currency so that it can pay its debts).

Re:I say cut the F-35 (5, Informative)

nbauman (624611) | about a year ago | (#42989249)

Social Security isn't bankrupt.

To quote Paul Krugman:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/16/opinion/16krugman.html [nytimes.com]

But neither of these potential problems is a clear and present danger. Social Security has been running surpluses for the last quarter-century, banking those surpluses in a special account, the so-called trust fund. The program won’t have to turn to Congress for help or cut benefits until or unless the trust fund is exhausted, which the program’s actuaries don’t expect to happen until 2037 — and there’s a significant chance, according to their estimates, that that day will never come. ...

What’s really going on here? Conservatives hate Social Security for ideological reasons: its success undermines their claim that government is always the problem, never the solution. But they receive crucial support from Washington insiders, for whom a declared willingness to cut Social Security has long served as a badge of fiscal seriousness, never mind the arithmetic.

Re:I say cut the F-35 (1)

DFurno2003 (739807) | about a year ago | (#42989127)

Sure would be nice if the government never had their hand in the Social Security purse in the first place.

Re:I say cut the F-35 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42989163)

They paid into it. They did not pay FOR it. There is a big difference.

Re:I say cut the F-35 (5, Insightful)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about a year ago | (#42988885)

the simple fact of the matter is that entitlement spending dwarfs defense spending.

The problem is that defense spending has BECOME entitlement spending. It is welfare for the defense contractors, who have no incentive to remain within budget or timelines. We can cut defense spending without having to cut a single program in production or development: all we have to do is make sure that companies are held to the promises they make when the bid for a contract. And, if they intentionally underbid or underestimated the program well, then they need to eat the cost of that overrun, just like a company would in any other industry. This isn't cutting spending, it is simply cutting costs. We still get everything we need, we just don't pay out the ass for it.

Re:I say cut the F-35 (1)

arse maker (1058608) | about a year ago | (#42988893)

Finding waste anywhere is easy. Its not unique to government
There is no free market for the military. It makes no money. Unless you go back to the system of war and looting.

Re:I say cut the F-35 (1)

CrashandDie (1114135) | about a year ago | (#42988957)

Isn't that exactly what the US has been doing, in a way?

They just did in a way that the energy going out at one doesn't obviously look like it's fueling the money coming in at the other end.

Re:I say cut the F-35 (3, Insightful)

fafaforza (248976) | about a year ago | (#42988923)

"Entitlement" is almost a four letter word, but you know what? I'd rather have US citizens be able to feed themselves, than our money going to toys that never get used. We will have training exercises and missions costing millions per minute, in flight refelling for God knows what reason when the US has bases and aircraft carriers everywhere. And all this in an age when 19 guys with box cutters struck a direct blow to us and we're relying more on RC planes to dish out our justice. Who are we going to fight with these planes?

Re:I say cut the F-35 (1)

espiesp (1251084) | about a year ago | (#42988967)

I'd hate for this to sound like I believe in the trickle down effect... But, in large, defense spending is spent in the USA to US defense contractors who pay US citizens very well to do the very unnecessary shit they do. People so often say, "The Government wastes money on defense spending, why don't they just give it to me?" Well, if you worked for a defense contractor they WOULD BE!

My point is, a lot of 'wasteful government spending' is just another form of Welfare for the United States. If you support welfare you should also support excessive gov spending (so long as that money stays in the USA of course).

Me? I'd rather not have government in my shit at all, but as a self employment tax paying citizen, I can't fully support them cutting Social Security and Medicare completely unless I get a refund on my 'premiums'.

Re:I say cut the F-35 (0, Troll)

stevew (4845) | about a year ago | (#42989025)

You have never paid premiums. These are not savings accounts, they are taxes. Social security is the biggest ponzie scheme ever invented. That being said:

The 2011 defense budget was $687Billion. We are running a $1.6Trillion deficit per year right now and have been during the current administration. If you cut defense out completely we would have a $900 billion deficit PER YEAR!

The left needs to get off their political high horse and admit that we have a huge problem and it is called a huge and abusive government across the entire range of their activities.

Lastly - there ARE other models to pay for ones retirement. I believe it is Chile that has a system that is based on savings plans. Maybe that model. They did a transfer from one system to the other over time. Those on the current system stayed, while those entering the system stared on the new system.

We are to involved at calling each other names to look for fresh answers.

Re:I say cut the F-35 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42989141)

The problem with a "savings plan" is that eventually that ends up being a big pot of money that isn't taxes. When the government then runs huge deficits in the future they will be too tempted to take that money and spend it putting in IOUs that they promise to pay back. They can't help themselves.

There are already calls in the US for the government to seize all 401ks and turn them into government bonds. To seize all pensions and turn it into SS "savings" where you can only get a government defined maximum benefit from it.

Re:I say cut the F-35 (1)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about a year ago | (#42989229)

Put a provision in the law that anyone proposing to change it, and take the funds for their pet projects or 'think of the children' bullcrap, is immediately removed from office, barred from lobbying for life, all family fortune including property is confiscated, and their offspring are all sterilized.

That should keep it safe for about 30 years.

Re:I say cut the F-35 (3, Interesting)

fafaforza (248976) | about a year ago | (#42989121)

Yeah, state of the art military that doesn't do much of anything, and we're all driving on pot hole riddled roads, we have 40 kids to a classroom, our bridges are falling down, and there's never any money for anything in our budget. This is the thinking that keeps senators from cutting any spending. Because of the immediate negative effect on their constituents. That money could be used elsewhere, and people would retain employment.

Re:I say cut the F-35 (1)

rtb61 (674572) | about a year ago | (#42989155)

So instead of spending that money on defence why not spend it on NASA and infrastructure spending instead. You are simply shifting that welfare to different contractors, so one industry reduces capacity shifts focus to space and a bunch of other high employment industries ramp up. Things like a national broadband network, which can be leased back to industry based upon competitive charges to the end user. Rebuilding of all roadways and bridges. National high speed rail network. All those things leave permanent value versus the military industrial complex which is a black hole of waste at it's best and at it's worst a global dealer of pointless pain and suffering creating enemies rather than eliminating them.

Re:I say cut the F-35 (1)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about a year ago | (#42989245)

Yes, cut a few hundred billion dollars from defense spending annually, so we can afford to spend trillions of dollars annually to do your pet projects, half of which don't make sense at all for the country.

Re:I say cut the F-35 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42988949)

"The only effective way to control it is through competition in a free market. The more a given market comes under government control, the less competition and freedom exists and the more wasteful it becomes. It's human nature."

Fine. All the TARP and government loans to business can be repaid. All the entitlement rates given to Wall Street, AKA the ridiculously low rates on capital gains, can be repaid to the People. Oh, and since you are cutting entitlements, for every person old enough to pay Social Security, the government can cut them a check for every single cent they have paid into the fund.

Yeah, you were proved wrong the past five years, after a "free-market" economy fell flat on its face, and WE got the bill. Please, just shut up with that asinine argument that history has, again and again, proven WRONG.

Re:I say cut the F-35 (1)

Troll-in-Training (1815480) | about a year ago | (#42989073)

Yeah, you were proved wrong the past five years, after a "free-market" economy fell flat on its face, and WE got the bill. Please, just shut up with that asinine argument that history has, again and again, proven WRONG.

Calling the current economic conditions in the United states a "Free Market" is utterly absurd. In a free market the government doesn't place artificial barriers to entry in the form of corupt regulations, it doesn't mandate that companies make sub optimal buisness decisions then bail them out when they go under, It doesn't pick winners and losers by placing punitive fees and taxes on activities it doesn't like and redistribute those funds to activities it does like.

While some regulations are absolutely necessary to maintain a free market and restrain the worst abuses of capitalism, what we have now is not a free market economy. The current conditions are closer to crony capitialism and a centrally planned economy than a true free market, and crony capitalism and central planning is what doesn't work.

Re:I say cut the F-35 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42989085)

Fine?

Your statement reads like an angry 5 year old.

Please explain where a truly "free-market" society anywhere on Terra has "fell flat on its face".

Re:I say cut the F-35 (1)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about a year ago | (#42989259)

Yes, but he hits the main democrat talking points, so he'll be modded informative and insightful. Rebuttals that have facts and logical reasoning will be dismissed as trolling.

Re:I say cut the F-35 (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#42989219)

Yes, but lets cut where we can cut. I think you and I would agree on a lot but I've come to the conclusion that there are plenty of things that most of us would agree, even if begrudgingly, that we can stop spending on. We have troops in over 150 countries... how about only 50? We spend more than twice as much on our military than the REST OF THE WORLD COMBINED. We spend over five times as much as the next biggest spender China.
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/timeline/9b6b4ac6234a38d7f61757290055617d.png [wikimedia.org]

Our military expenditures aren't just huge, they are to the point of being borderline insane. We have enough nukes to kill every human on earth 100 times over, there's no possibility of any country invading us for at least the next several hundred years. Let's just stop. Fuck the middle east, Fuck Isreal, Russia is not going to invade Europe, lets send some humanitarian aid to Africa but otherwise let that continent deal with its own affairs.

We've basically accomplished nothing with our police actions since the Korean war. Now even the Koreans want us out and we wont leave. Enough's enough, lets just stop and spend our money on something that doesn't kill people for a change.

Re:I say cut the F-35 (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about a year ago | (#42989227)

Sorry, that's not always true. An excellent counter example is the US health care system versus virtually all (perhaps all) of the other modern western semi-public systems.

Re:I say cut the F-35 (2)

MrKaos (858439) | about a year ago | (#42988871)

As an Aussie who saw the Howard government jump on board with Bush on this overpriced boondoggle (without even considering if other aircraft, American, European or otherwise were suitable for our needs at a cheaper price), cutting it completly and forcing Australia to evaluate ALL the options for aircraft suitable for our defense needs would be a good thing.

That and other outdated equipment from U.S manufacturers and politicians interfering with Australian military equipment to bypass the standard procurement processes. Ships, tanks, the F-18, which is a fine aircraft, just tactically unsuitable to Australian conditions are amongst the blunders made.

The F-35, also tactically unsuitable, was the latest in a long line of blunders.

No bias at all... (4, Interesting)

dywolf (2673597) | about a year ago | (#42988749)

I especially love this statement: " By the Pentagon's own admission, building and operating three versions of the F-35 — one for the Air Force, one for the Navy and one for the Marines — will cost more than $1.4 trillion over its lifetime, making it the most expensive weapons program ever undertaken". The implication being even the military thinks it too much, which they don't. Such a statement implies something that doesnt exist, and conveniently ignores that the entire reason for developing a common platform for multiple roles is to save money. Yes, that one single platform is 1.4T. But the thinking was that 3 separate weapon systems to update all 3 branches at would cost even more. When properly executed this type of program does work; shared parts commonality is a real savings. When poorly executed you can end up with an unusable product (re: Naval version of the F-111 that was too heavy and unmaneuverable)

Point is, yes, the man from the CIP, a group dedicated to the eradication of the world's militaries, but particularly the US military, thinks we should cut the military.
Shocking. I love how people for various things never call their organization by their true intentions, but always give it something normal and official sounding, to create a built in bias towards thinking they are legit when they call for things.

Re:No bias at all... (4, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | about a year ago | (#42988765)

The Pentagon puts all of its eggs in one basket. It better be a spectacular basket. One of the best reasons for operating systems diversity is that you can likely only kill off one branch with an attack. Imagine being able to find a way into a US$1.4trillion fleet, and whack all of them.

I'm not off-put by one turbine fan in one aircraft having problems; this has happened before in this fleet. Could have happened for many reasons. But I the US Military and its defense contractor network are vastly too cozy for my tastes. Add that to congresspeople trying to continue programs so that their districts have US military spending, and the whole process seems mightily corrupt.

Re:No bias at all... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42989051)

The Pentagon puts all of its eggs in one basket.

And if they put them in multiple baskets, they get lambasted for redundancy and wastefulness. Which results in cuts to all except one program, leading to the situation we have now.

Re:No bias at all... (1, Insightful)

Troyusrex (2446430) | about a year ago | (#42988767)

And the F-35 replaces the F-18, F-15, F-16, A-8, A-10 and the Harriers. The 3 versions they will have is a huge SAVINGS because it replaces so many other planes. Of course, the author also doesn't adjust for inflation which is a huge factor. I'm not saying that there isn't a lot to cut from the Pentagon, or even from the F-35 program, I'm just saying that the rational given here makes no sense at all.

Re:No bias at all... (2)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42988849)

No, right now it replaces *nothing* because it *does not work*. Too many purposes for the same aircraft, too many bleeding edge technologies, and too many companies given local contracts to build components in different states and try to mesh them into one aircraft. The result is that it fails in testing, consistently. That means lots of research and development money, and *no working planes*.

Toss the whole program and replace it with ground troop enlistment and equipment, and we wouldn't be short of ground troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and could stop hiring mercenaries^H^H^H military contractors who are immune from prosecution for war crimes.

Re:No bias at all... (4, Insightful)

arse maker (1058608) | about a year ago | (#42988851)

The F-18 per unit cost is $29-57 million in 2006 dollars (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonnell_Douglas_F/A-18_Hornet)

Which is a small fraction of the F-35 cost. So I dont see how they can be saving money.

I dont really follow your logic. Replacing a plane is a total loss on the old plane. So you can't possibly save money.

Re:No bias at all... (3, Interesting)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about a year ago | (#42988863)

The problem is the F-35 doesnt need to replace half of those planes. Instead of scrapping the F-15s or F-16s, we could have just upgraded and modified them: new electronics, upgrade the airframe (I think a lot of the 16s are starting to develop cracks in their wings). And the F-35 has nowhere near the survivability of an A-10. A-10s can fly and land with damage that would make any other plane fall out of the sky. Instead of spending a lot of money on the bastardized F-35 (remember, something that can do a little bit of everything can't do anything well), we should have bought a lot more of the F-22s and upgraded the rest of the fleet.

Re:No bias at all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42989187)

The supply chain is gone for a lot that fleet though. At some point new airframes must be purchased, not just upgrading the old existing ones. What's the oldest computer case in your home or server farm, and are you still just upgrading the internals? Is it more cost effective from a maintenance perspective to live in a 100-year-old house or buy a new build?

Re:No bias at all... (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | about a year ago | (#42989035)

The F35 is basically a Swiss Army Knife of warcraft. It does a bunch of things, none of them well.

Re:No bias at all... (1)

Dr. Tom (23206) | about a year ago | (#42989111)

and the remotely piloted aircraft are doing those jobs already. seriously, why do we need billions of dollars worth of aircraft carriers full of overpriced defense-contract-airshow F-stuff when we are already taking out our enemies with cheap drones and no risk to pilots?

There's a lot to cut at the Pentagon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42989271)

You've got a huge standing army, and you say you can't find ANYTHING to cut? Really?

Nothing at all?

Re:No bias at all... (5, Interesting)

Jawnn (445279) | about a year ago | (#42988811)

Point is, yes, the man from the CIP, a group dedicated to the eradication of the world's militaries, but particularly the US military, thinks we should cut the military. Shocking. I love how people for various things never call their organization by their true intentions, but always give it something normal and official sounding, to create a built in bias towards thinking they are legit when they call for things.

So..., you're saying that an organization that, "...promotes transparency and accountability in U.S. foreign policy, while advocating a foreign policy that promotes international cooperation, demilitarization and respect for human rights..." (taken directly from the CIP mission statement) should have no credibility? That it's not possible that one of the reasons that they support "demilitarization" is that they actually understand that the business of war is hugely profitable and the money that is spend on that might be better spent on better things? Riiiiiiight....

Re:No bias at all... (0)

cffrost (885375) | about a year ago | (#42988965)

No bias at all...

Of course there's bias. Everyone is biased, and I've never seen Hugh Pickens, timothy, or Slashdot claim otherwise.

I especially love this statement: " By the Pentagon's own admission, building and operating three versions of the F-35 — one for the Air Force, one for the Navy and one for the Marines — will cost more than $1.4 trillion over its lifetime, making it the most expensive weapons program ever undertaken". The implication being even the military thinks it too much, which they don't.

The only impression I got was that the Pentagon provided the $1.4T figure.

Point is, yes, the man from the CIP, a group dedicated to the eradication of the world's militaries, but particularly the US military, thinks we should cut the military.
Shocking. I love how people for various things never call their organization by their true intentions, but always give it something normal and official sounding, to create a built in bias towards thinking they are legit when they call for things.

I suggest you consider the expression, "don't judge a book by its cover," regardless of whether or not a name sounds "normal" or "official" to you. Do you think the USA PATRIOT Act has anything to do with patriots?

Re:No bias at all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42989231)

Do you think the USA PATRIOT Act has anything to do with patriots?

Yeah, that's when they outlawed real patriots and demanded only sheeple

Yes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42988775)

Yes, there's plenty to be cut from the defense department. There's plenty to be cut from almost every area of government. We'll have to plug our ears for awhile as they're going to cut visible things to try and convince us otherwise, but given enough time, reasonable cuts WILL happen. They have to happen. The question becomes, will they happen on our terms, or on someone else's?

Re:Yes. (1)

olsmeister (1488789) | about a year ago | (#42988835)

Exactly. The sequester is better than nothing at all, but it is frustrating to me that these cuts are across the board. Maybe that's the only way to do it given the current political situation, but not all government is bad - there are a lot of effective government programs that live right alongside the bloated, wasteful ones. Ideally we would cut heavily in the latter and not so much (or even expand) the former. But of course, then someone must determine which category everything falls into ...

Stay the hell away from the F35 (0, Flamebait)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about a year ago | (#42988787)

The F35 has had problems and is an easy target for scapegoating, but these are because of cutting edge designs and advances in material science more than any other reason. It also employs tens of thousands of our nation's best and brightest engineers.

Not to mention that the money isn't being thrown away into a pit. Because of Lockheed Martin's pricing model, they keep very little of it, and almost all of it goes to labor (and a big chunk returns in taxes, if not all in economic activity).

If you want an easy way to save money, turn Afghanistan back over to its rightful owners (the Taliban), and lets stop pissing away money on mercenaries committing warcrimes.

Re:Stay the hell away from the F35 (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42988819)

Afghanistan? Why not from everywhere around the world?

Re:Stay the hell away from the F35 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42988929)

Why not from everywhere around the world?

How else do you stay at the top of the pyramid?

Re:Stay the hell away from the F35 (4, Insightful)

TheSunborn (68004) | about a year ago | (#42988829)

I think that using "tens of thousands of our nation's best and brightest engineers" to build something more useful instead would be a good choice.

Re:Stay the hell away from the F35 (1)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about a year ago | (#42988901)

False dichotomy. If the DoD can't justify spending that money, they won't (look at NASA). Cutting programs like these merely reduce the demand for engineers, it doesn't offer our country any advantages.

Re:Stay the hell away from the F35 (1)

guises (2423402) | about a year ago | (#42988945)

If the DoD can't justify spending that money, they won't

Of course they will. The DoD is subject to congressional pork just like everyone else - just look at how difficult it was to cancel F-22 production, even though the DoD said they didn't need any more.

Re:Stay the hell away from the F35 (1)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about a year ago | (#42989021)

It was difficult to cut the F22, because it was expensive to cut the F22. They have a hard time swallowing that if they ever need more than a couple hundred planes, the cost of spinning back up will be far more than the savings from not getting another couple hundred planes.

Re:Stay the hell away from the F35 (1)

Charcharodon (611187) | about a year ago | (#42988853)

Afghanistan doesn't represent that much in terms of the budget, but I agree with your sentiment. Either go declare war and go into Afghanistan with the entire might of the US military and burn the Taliban to the ground, which would mean decimating most of the civilian population, since pretty much the two are heavily intertwined, or leave them alone.

The US military should only be used like a flame thrower, to reduce the temptation to meddle, not like a scaple which encourages just that and has kept us at war for the past 90 years.

Re:Stay the hell away from the F35 (3, Insightful)

sulimma (796805) | about a year ago | (#42988939)

It also employs tens of thousands of our nation's best and brightest engineers..

Who are unavailable for other tasks due to this programm.

and almost all of it goes to labor (and a big chunk returns in taxes, if not all in economic activity)

As would almost any other type of spending. The difference is, you get planes instead of schools, highways, vaccines or what else could be done with the money.

Also, the money for this programm is coming from taxes so not spending the money at all creates purchasing power all accross the population which might be the best thing for welfare and economy.

Plenty to cut (4, Insightful)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#42988793)

And always at the neck. Putting the blame in the dot that is at the very tip of the iceberg makes simple people forget the 10% of it that is over the water, and normal people forget the 90% is below. If just gets considered the cost of starting wars (cyber and real world ones, even if they are disguised as humanitarian, or supporting rebels, or whatever), preserving the (corporate) order, or plainly stripping privacy/spying to all the world, including US citizens, would be evident where the real waste is.

Re:Plenty to cut (3, Insightful)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#42989015)

Even lower down it isn't clear that government agencies are particularly wasteful because there is nothing to compare them to. No private companies do anything like what the government does, and that is kind of the point of the government doing it. It's something not commercially viable, or that we can't trust to the free market to sort out.

Re:Plenty to cut (1)

Dr. Tom (23206) | about a year ago | (#42989133)

so you're saying cutting the F35 cuts even more than we think, so cutting it will save even more money for programs that already work for less, like unmanned vehicles

Re:Plenty to cut (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#42989213)

I say that the problem is a far bigger than the F35 (and drones, and a lot more), and the necks are of the ones at the core of the problem.

Vague and Misleading (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42988801)

"Cutting the two most expensive versions of the F-35 will save over $60 billion in the next decade."

This needs clarification. Sure, you can cut the Marine F-35B STOVL version right off the bat. But I believe the Navy F-35C is more expensive than the Air Force F-35A due to the larger wing, stronger landing gear, and tail hook, which are all necessary for naval operation. You can't fly an F-35A off a carrier, but you could certainly fly an F-35C from an airfield.

TLDR: You can cut the most expensive, but there's a critical business case to keep the second more expensive. Vague and misleading statement.

Re:Vague and Misleading (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a year ago | (#42988831)

There is a case for keeping the F-35B. It is to replace the aging and very outdated Harrier. One of the next hot spots is North Africa. The French and Europeans may not be able to handle it. VSTOL aircraft become very important in those areas and there are no runways to handle conventional jets. Yes, there are drones that can operate in those areas but they do not deal well with dispersed targets like troops on the ground. A drone is a sniper while a ground attacks jet is a machine gun.

Re:Vague and Misleading (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42989049)

You seriously believe a jet as complex as an F-35 is going to operate off of dirt patches in Africa with rocks smashing into that expensive and delicate stealth coating?

You really, actually believe that?

The Harrier is the only successful VTOL jet in military history because it was designed to be simple and robust. For example. it uses bike chains to rotate its engine nozzles, rather than the incredibly complex fuel-pressure-powered bendy nozzle and lift fan on the F-35. No jet using a similar design has every been operationally successful.

Re:Vague and Misleading (3, Insightful)

Dr. Tom (23206) | about a year ago | (#42989151)

There is a case for keeping the F-35B. It is to replace the aging and very outdated Harrier.

not a compelling argument. tech has moved on, yes. so has the enemy. fight smarter, not more expensively

It's a management problem (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42988803)

Since the turbine blade cracked, lets look at assembly lines. Did you know the USAF puts 200 of its members on staff at a turbine production plant for quality assurance, and that's just 1 of many engine types they use? Compare and contrast that with all of the major airlines. They operate using the manufacturers warranty. They have nobody on the production lines. It works just fine. That's 200 jobs to cut and save on, but that goes against the grain in bureaucracy because everybody wants to be managing the most amount of people, so no matter how logical the cost reduction, they often are thrown out to further personal ambitions.

Re:It's a management problem (2)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about a year ago | (#42988855)

I'm not sure what your analogy is, since airlines don't make airliners, unless you imply that somehow we can magically poof the planes into existence for free, and then run the airforce like an airline. If you meant something about commercial airlines being most efficient:

Airline turbofans don't have nearly the same requirements as an engine designed for higher mach numbers.

Your analogy is comparing Team Ferrari and a schoolbus manufacturer, and claiming that Ferrari could save a lot of money if they fired all of the people involved with testing performance, since schoolbuses don't need it.

The funniest part is, Boeing, the loser of the bid on the JSF program, is a commercial airline maker (supercapitalist) but couldn't do better or cheaper than LMC (almost pure defense contractor).

Look at the Pentagon suppliers (2)

QuietLagoon (813062) | about a year ago | (#42988827)

Look at the Pentagon suppliers for extracting as much money as they can from our defense spending. Good ole Capitalism at its worst.... sucking a Country dry just to engorge defense contractors' executives.

Re:Look at the Pentagon suppliers (1)

arse maker (1058608) | about a year ago | (#42988865)

Building these kinds of machines is always going to cost a fortune. Even at 2000-3000 units, this isn't mass production. It also incorporates a lot of new tech which is hard to budget.

I'm all for cutting military spending but that will also cut jobs. I wonder what the jobs per million spent on the military is compared to other government spending.

Re:Look at the Pentagon suppliers (4, Insightful)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about a year ago | (#42988869)

Yep, cost (materials and labor)+10%(the profit) is totally sucking our country dry... Nothing to do with the Pentagon driving costs through the roof by forcing bidding on one set of requirements, then changing them hundreds of times before the program is finished.

No, it is killer 10% markup that is the problem.

Re:Look at the Pentagon suppliers (1)

Troll-in-Training (1815480) | about a year ago | (#42989149)

The real markup is taxation, companies that take government contracts have to pay taxes on that income and on the income of the employees that work for them. As every dollar spent on a government contract comes from taxes, the prices the government pays are inflated by the amount of taxes the company has to pay back to the government. If we passed legislation exempting government employees, contractors and the employees of government contractors from taxation in direct proportion to the amount of tax dollars they recieve as income we would reduce the cost of government services and contracts by about 25 -30 % without affecting the amount of services delivered.

Re:Look at the Pentagon suppliers (1)

fafaforza (248976) | about a year ago | (#42988941)

It takes two to tango. If contractors are sucking the government dry, why is your government letting it happen?

It's not just procurement (1)

MikeRT (947531) | about a year ago | (#42988833)

If you fired at least 50% of the civilian employees, you would probably barely notice a dent in military readiness since most of the DoD's work is done by the uniformed services and contractors.

Re:It's not just procurement (2)

arse maker (1058608) | about a year ago | (#42988875)

Depends how you define readiness.

But looking at the sizes of civilian contracts (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defense_contractor) I doubt it.

Re:It's not just procurement (1)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about a year ago | (#42989115)

I think what he is saying is, keep the Mils and the defense contractors, let go of the civvies doing menial tasks as part of the DoD itself.

Re:It's not just procurement (1)

Sarius64 (880298) | about a year ago | (#42989257)

Good luck on that. I'm sure all the military program managers would easily insert a field of enlisted and officer engineers with a whopping two years of experience (on average) at their last command. /rolleyes

Re:It's not just procurement (2)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about a year ago | (#42988905)

Why spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to put a person through bootcamp and AIT/whatever just to have them push papers or make copies? Use civilians for clerical/office work, and let soldiers actually soldier.

Fix acquisitions (4, Interesting)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about a year ago | (#42988843)

There is no need to cut programs or funding. If the Pentagon wants to save billions per year, simply fix the acquisitions process. Pretty much every single defense program in development and production runs over in time and budget. If we simply hold the contractors to the terms of their contracts, we will save tons of money and have equipment that works. Contracts are always underestimated in terms of the time frame and the cost, and yet companies that constantly overrun these still get preferential treatment when it comes to the next contract. And heaven forbid there's a fair competition for a bid: if one of the main contractors doesn't win the bid, they push for and usually get a reevaluation from the military for the bid, and usually end up getting the contract. A simple fix off the top of my head would be that, should a contractor not be able to adhere to the terms of the contract, they should be unable to bid on another contract for a certain period of time. Any other business that was constantly late and over budget would stop getting work and go out of business; so why do we tolerate it with defense companies? We need a strong military, and we need new, modern equipment. What we don't need are programs that run 3-4x over their stated costs or take 15-20 years instead of 10.

Re:Fix acquisitions (2)

cyber-vandal (148830) | about a year ago | (#42988897)

IT contracting companies have been useless forever and yet corporations still keep employing them. This isn't private sector vs public sector, this is crap contracts agreed to by people focusing on price over reality because agreeing to an impossibly low figure on the new payroll system means a bonus now and any future shambles can be blamed on the contractor.

Re:Fix acquisitions (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about a year ago | (#42988925)

This isn't private sector vs public sector, this is crap contracts agreed to by people focusing on price over reality because agreeing to an impossibly low figure on the new payroll system means a bonus now and any future shambles can be blamed on the contractor.

I never said anything about public versus private. I think defense is an industry that needs both. What I said is simply to make those that bid for a program to actually be held accountable for and adhere to the terms of the bid that they propose. If we do that, we will save a lot of money.

Re:Fix acquisitions (1)

Troll-in-Training (1815480) | about a year ago | (#42989243)

I never said anything about public versus private. I think defense is an industry that needs both. What I said is simply to make those that bid for a program to actually be held accountable for and adhere to the terms of the bid that they propose. If we do that, we will save a lot of money.

The problem is twofold, military contracts are often on technology that is brand new or theoretical and proven only by a prototype. Turning new science into a finished product that can handle sustained operations in wartime conditions is expensive and prone to cost overruns. Second, the lead time on military contracts is such that technology changes between the time the contract is issued and delivery. These technological changes can make the product as initally specified obsolete unless changes are made, which leads to cost overruns. Even in an honest system new development of military equipment is expensive.

That said, the current system is horribly inefficent because in order to even get a contract approved contractors have to play games with the inital costs and jump through hoops in order to get congress to approve it. Many ovveruns are caused by contractors later adding in the real costs that wouldn't have been approved if they were known in advance.

As long as the procurement system requires corruption in order for ANY contract to be approved only corrupt contractors will bid and taxpayers will be stuck with outrageous bills.

Plenty to cut... (0)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about a year ago | (#42988867)

Like, say, the entire military industrial complex?

Re:Plenty to cut... (1)

Dr. Tom (23206) | about a year ago | (#42989185)

No, America's RPVs will always be the best, we can take out anyone anywhere in the world at the touch of a button, without a pilot and for so little cost it's clear the government would use it so much more they're terrified of people calling "skynet!" The old military systems are like PDP-10 processors in an iPhone world.

The F-series has run its course. It's time we admitted it and built a new, cheaper, more agile force without feathering the nests of the fat military contractors.

Enough with the damn spending cuts (5, Insightful)

rsilvergun (571051) | about a year ago | (#42988909)

We're not broke people. Really [google.com]. We're not. This is what people in politics call a "Narrative". It's a story to get you to vote a certain way. Specifically to vote for massive tax cuts for the rich so they can pocket all the gains in productivity from the last 50 years.

Cut all the "Waste" you want. It'll never come close or be a drop in the bucket against what the ultra wealthy are taking from you on a daily basis. I tell ya man, dog eat dog capitalism for the poor, socialism for the wealthy...

Re:Enough with the damn spending cuts (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about a year ago | (#42989137)

wrong, government is the primary way the uberwealthy steal from us, for our goverment is in their pockets. our US government needs to be butchered to a third of what it is now (the other 66% is unconstitutional), and their current masters destroyed (banking cartel, petro cartel, weapons cartel..).

Cancel the F35 - that'd be hillarious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42989037)

We Brits could then convert our not-yet built and now completely useless carriers into novelty cruise liners or something!

Eisenhower - M.I.C. Not so much. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42989053)

The history of the development of technology CLEARLY, to anyone interested enough to look honestly at it, is that the kings, popes, and other power mongers have ALWAYS stolen the goods from "the people" "for their own good" to develop more efficient ways to kill people and break things BEFORE those kings, popes, and power mongers would allow any kind of free markets to exist for "engineers" [I ARE ONE P.E.] to apply their talents to goods and services for public utility. That is and will always be the way of the human species as long as there are those whom exist thinking that they are so SPECIAL that everybody else should provide for their WANTS and live in abject slavery because they are "inferior" in some imagined way. I do NOT work in the M.I.C. any longer, because "they" laid me off, not because I feel some moral superiority. As my uncle, who walked into Germany with a rifle in his hands at the end of WW2 said, MY guys are going to have the best weapons I can make for them because I do not want my sons and daughters having to fight off kings, popes, and power mongers the way that we had to.

Where's the article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42989083)

On how there's plenty to cut -EVERYWHERE- in the government?

And remember, these aren't cuts, folks - these are decreases in the -extra- money everybody will be getting over the previous year. They're still getting more money than they were before.

Sequestration is not your friend (1)

voice of unreason (231784) | about a year ago | (#42989139)

There's two separate issues here. The first is the F-35. The other is the offhand comment that sequestration isn't such a bad thing because it'll force the Pentagon to make much needed cuts. I deal with government contractors a lot at work and am a little familiar with the sequestration process, so I can tell you that unfortunately, it just doesn't work that way. With a normal defense budget cut passed by Congress it might. But if sequestration goes into effect, many of the funding cuts are across the board and automatic. The Pentagon often always get to say what is or isn't cut. This means that important stuff gets cut along with the unimportant, because sequestration isn't always based on military necessity. It also means that there will be cuts that don't even make sense. Here's an example. Say that you've got a project to build a submarine. Suddenly sequestration says that you can only do 50% of the project. How do you pull that off? It's a ship. You can't build half of a sub, unless you want to build the bottom half of the hull and row it around like a big kayak. You might try building half the sub now and putting off the rest till later. But by then your hull's gotten rusty and you have to fix it, and the workers have to be rehired, and you end up paying more than if you'd just built the whole thing in the first place. So if you want stuff like the F-35 to get canceled, the right thing to do it is to try to get it cancelled in congress. The generalized sequestration cuts won't target the waste, and will in the end actually create more expenses that we have to pay off.

The sequester is across the board, not selective.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42989197)

There is definitely a lot to cut in DoD. And F35 is a classic case of a program designed to be "too big to fail". Personally I say cut the whole thing to teach the acquisition infrastructure that kind of manipulation won't fly - literally.

But the sequester issue is that it is non-selective and is written such that cuts must be even across the board. You can't cut a crappy bloated program more than a well executed one. That's the problem with the sequester - not that it is 10% but that it is non-selective.

Real world numbers (4, Insightful)

Grayhand (2610049) | about a year ago | (#42989211)

So over it's service life it would cost roughly the same amount as putting solar panels on 40 million homes. One unneeded airplane that has yet to see a day of service. There's plenty of money to solve our problems it's all being wasted!

Wrong jet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42989237)

You never heard about these problems with the X300...

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