Saturday, March 3, 2007

Is The Army as Incompetent as The Post Office?

Probably yes.

But the Post Office isn't that incompetent; the mail does seem to be delivered reasonably well. The problem with the Post Office is that it is inefficient, as it operates outside corrective competitive forces -- and the result is an expensive service that has reduced incentive to be innovative. Similarly, the Army is also very inefficient, as it also operates outside market forces -- and there are probably many instances of the military wasting money on expensive contractors, as well as sacrificing quality with low-bid contracts.

But there are also differences between the two entities: The Post Office, if open to competition, would have to deal with UPS, FedEx, DHL, and other private delivery services -- and might very well be forced out of business as a result. But the Army is not about to be replaced with Joe's Militia, or to keep the analogies straight, the United Military Service.

So it then comes down to the question of: If the postal service (or the INS, or the Department of Energy, or the DMV, or any other lethargic bureaucracy) cannot be trusted to provide a decent service, then why should we trust the Army to protect us? There are three answers to that:

1) The inefficient U.S. Army doesn't need to be as capable as a well-run private business; it only needs to be better-run than the enemy's inefficient army.

2) Unlike tasks like processing learner's permits, many people (especially males) are hard-wired to excel at fighting to protect their tribe. That is, going to war can be much more than "just a job".

3) Trusting your army to protect you is better than trusting the enemy's army to protect you after they have won.

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