Free Markets, Free People
The president who decided to again change strategies in Afghanistan after announcing his “new” and “comprehensive” strategy soon after taking office and then dithered for months before making a decision on the “surge” is now concerned that the troops he’s committed aren’t magically going to be there and ready when he wants them there.
Remember the “let me be clear, this decision has delayed nothing” rhetoric”? Well, let me be clear – his inexperience apparently has left him with the false impression that troop deployments are an overnight thing. And now the usual finger pointing from the White House has begun.
As you might imagine, it really has nothing to do with the troops per se. They can be loaded up quite quickly and flown into Afghanistan. But, as the old saying goes, “amateurs discuss tactics, professionals discuss logistics”. And the amateurs in the White House apparently don’t understand the impact the addition of 30,000 more troops in theater have on an already strained logistics system:
Last month in Kabul, Lt. Gen. David M. Rodriguez, the deputy commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, did not back away from that schedule, but he told reporters of the difficulties he faced even in getting all the forces in by fall. He said that bad weather, limited capacity to send supplies by air and attacks on ground convoys carrying equipment for troops from Pakistan and other countries presented substantial hurdles.
“There’s a lot of risks in here, but we’re going to try to get them in as fast as we can,” he said at the time. “There’s a lot of things that have to line up perfectly.”
On a visit to Afghanistan last month, Admiral Mullen pressed military logisticians on how they would be able to meet the schedule. But even Admiral Mullen, who said he was “reasonably confident” that the logistics would work out, acknowledged the tall order before the military, saying, “I want a plan B because life doesn’t always work out.”
So why wasn’t the logistics system already prepared to take the surge? Well, until the decision was made, no one in the logistics channel knew there was actually going to be a surge, or how large it would be if there was one. Unlike the claim made by the president, every day he delayed that decision was another day the logistics piece remained unplanned and unresourced. And that’s on top of the problems that LTG Rodriguez has pointed out.
One thing you obviously don’t want to do is field soldiers you can’t support and sustain. The surest way to ensure you get your tail kicked is to watch tactical operations falter because of the beans and bullets piece can’t support the plan.
As usual, the military will try to make up for the amateur screwup and meet the unrealistic timetable. Whether or not they’re successful remains to be seen – but bear in mind that problem that the military faces in successfully meeting that goal of full deployment by this summer isn’t one of their making, but a product of delays in the decision making process at the highest level.
Morgen Richmond of Big Government points out a story that received very little coverage this week in the media. It had to do with a report released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and its findings. Apparently, per CMMS, 2008 health care spending (the latest figures available) “slowed” when compared to 2007. In fact that slowed from 6% growth to 4.4% growth in 2008.
That, one would think, especially as health care reform is the hot topic, is newsworthy. But one has to believe that the reason it wasn’t found newsworthy has to do with the details of the report. The reason is that the details don’t support the premise that our health care spending problems lie in the private sector:
Because in a year where the growth rate in overall healthcare spending dropped by an unprecedented amount, federal spending on Medicare and Medicaid actually increased dramatically from the prior year.
Medicare by 8.6% in 2008 compared to 7.1% in 2007, and Medicaid by 8.4% compared to 6.1% in 2007. And Federal spending on the Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) increased by an even greater amount (13.4%).
In other words, the reduced growth rate in healthcare spending for 2008 was entirely due to reduced spending in the private sector. Which upon reflection really comes as no surprise since the private sector by its very nature must respond and adapt to market dynamics. As long as it has the flexibility to do so, unimpeded by government regulation.
Look again at those numbers. Think about the reduction in private health care spending necessary to offset those increases in federal health care spending to bring the overall number down to 4.4%. Private care and/or insurance are not the problem and giving more power to government is not the solution to lowering health care costs.
Another report that has been mostly ignored points to factors which will most likely see private sector spending continue to decline over the coming years. It is most likely being ignored because the solutions put forward are primarily market based solutions.
Given these facts, you are left to ponder the following question articulated by Richmond:
So a federal government which has never in history demonstrated one iota of ability to reign in spending can permanently add another 40+ million people to federal entitlement programs [and] [t]his is the silver bullet necessary to reduce costs?
Nope. No bullets at all, silver or otherwise. The government is shooting blanks, and a system that is ranked number 1 out of 191 in the world for “responsiveness to the needs and choices of the individual patient” (uh, isn’t that what good medicine is all about?) is about to be downgraded dramatically based on a collection of myths, half-truths and outright lies.
Comforting, isn’t it?