And here we go again. 17 years ago, I was writing about the failure of the government to overhaul the national health system, and a bloated national defense budget. And here in June 2009, we have exactly the same problems! The B.1 and B.2 boondoggles have been replaced by the F.22 Raptor boondoggle du jour. $191 million per jet; a total cost to tax payers of $66 billion. Yet it hasn't flown a single mission in Iraq and Afghanistan! With no real military function the only lifeline for the "fighter" is 95,000 jobs in 44 states, which is lifeline enough under the present constitution. For more details, see this URL at USA Today, and a website devoted to saving all those jobs, preserveraptorjobs.com (notice: not preservenationalsecurity.com).
June 22, 2009
In the area of National Health, another intrinsic part of the "general Welfare," our Government maintains the existence of a system that is itself chronically ill:
The American Health care system is the most expensive in the world, but for those not in its mainstream, the care it offers is among the most unsatisfactory. Americans pay $700 billion a year [and] [l]ife expectancy in the United States is shorter than in 15 other nations, and infant mortality is worse than in 22 other countries. . . .
In any two-year period there are 34 million people without health insurance. But the number who lose their insurance at least temporarily is nearly double that many, 63 million.
For businesses, tension is rising. Companies watch as health care spending devours ever larger portions of their profits. In the 1960's, businesses spent about 4 to 8 cents of each dollar of profits on health care. In 1990, it was 25 to 50 cents per dollar and rising. . . .But on the Potomac, when there is too much interest in a subject a political paralysis can result. In Congress there have been no fewer than 14 proposals to revamp the national system. At the White House, there have been no major proposals, as political specialists wait for the right conservative proposal and the right moment - just before or just after the election - to put it forward. - Advertisement -
In the area of National Defense, another aspect of the "general Welfare," the United States is beset with a military-industrial complex that has failed to "provide for the common defense" in an efficient manner, and has instead given us debacles such as $640 toilet seats, $1,100 stool-leg caps, and $2000 nuts, not to mention pork-barrel spending like the B-1 bomber:
The B-1 was built on time and roughly within cost, but at a terrible price: it doesn't work as promised. Its electronics system can jam signals from the airborne radars of Soviet fighters and missiles, but there are apparently others that the system will not jam without a complete redesign. . . . The B-1 will probably limp along with Band-Aid fixes, always a step behind Soviet air defenses, until in a few years it is replaced by the B-2. That's a huge waste of $28 billion. . . . [and the reasons?]
Design driven by service agendas. The Air Force designed the B-1 first, then its mission. . . .
Contracts not awarded on merit alone. Sometimes the Pentagon or a powerful state delegation wants to keep a failing contractor in business or a production line open. . . .
Congressional interests overriding defense. Once the Pentagon has decided on a large program, the contractor can spread subcontracts to key Congressional districts, building an unstoppable constituency. Subcontracts for the B-1 stretched across 48 states. . . . 
The B-2, the B-1 replacement, has turned out to be twice the fiasco at four times the cost.
The breakdown in the Justice System, the Environment, National Health, and National Defense represent only a fraction of the more obvious symptoms of deeply-rooted structural inadequacies. More subtle and disturbing indicators are on the horizon, like the BCCI and Savings and Loan Scandals, and the failure of banks in general:
As many as 440 banks may fail this year and in 1992, costing the insurance fund $23 billion and leaving it with a deficit of nearly $6 billion next year.
[T]he Band-aid solutions being applied, in the form of Treasury borrowing, will do no more than postpone the inevitable bill to taxpayers until after Election Day 1992.
'We're in the grand denial phase, just like 1987 and 1988, when Congress and the Administration did nothing about savings and loans,' said Walker Todd, a lawyer who is on leave from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland to write a book about the Federal Reserve Board.