Oct 18 2009

Sometimes we trust evil businesses with profit motives, it seems, when they tell us what we want to hear

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 8:43 am

Investigators find flaws in Army body armor tests

The Army made critical mistakes in tests of a new body armor design, according to congressional investigators who recommend an independent review of the trials before the gear is issued to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But Defense Department officials says an outside look isn’t needed. In a lengthy response to the Government Accountability Office report, Pentagon officials acknowledge there were a few problems during testing of the armor’s bullet-blocking plates. But these were minor miscues, they said, that don’t shake their confidence in the overall results.

The GAO report says the Army deviated from established testing standards and concludes that several of the new armor designs that passed would have failed had the tests been done properly.

The report, requested last year by senior members of the House Armed Services Committee, is the latest study to call into question the Army’s ability to oversee the production of a key piece of battlefield equipment.

In January, the Pentagon’s inspector general faulted the Army for not properly overseeing a series of tests on the protective plates at a private ballistics laboratory.

The inspector general’s audit recommended that nearly 33,000 plates be pulled from the Army’s inventory of nearly 2 million because the inserts might not provide troops with adequate protection against armor-piercing bullets. The Army disputed the findings, but withdrew the plates as a precautionary step.

Stung by the inspector general’s conclusions, Army officials dismissed the private laboratories they’d long relied upon for the tests and said they would do the vital job themselves at a military testing facility in Aberdeen, Md.

That proved to be a contentious decision, however. The testing companies and manufacturers of the plates insisted the private sector could do the trials better, faster and for much less money.

With the GAO report, which is to be issued publicly on Friday, that argument is sure to get new traction.

Funny, when you think about it.

The only time a certain political element actually prefers to trust the private sector over a government agency is when they can use a private sector company to bash the military.

How soon do you think it will be that we hear of a private company’s word (say, a pharmaceutical company’s) being taken over a government agency’s about the safety of a particular medication?  After all, everyone knows that private companies are motivated by an evil desire for profit.

But if you can use a private company to attack the military leadership, suddenly that profit motive is off the radar, and they’re just public spirited citizens concerned about our soldiers.

I have no opinion about the truth of the matter in question here… but I do wish there wasn’t a double standard in how the opinions are weighted.

As a simple example, the recent spate of private organizations challenging the CBO analysis of the cost of nationalized health care is not handled by the media in any way similar the report above.  The dominant assumption by the media is that private organizations have something to gain from challenging nationalized health care, while government agencies are somehow disinterested observers and evaluators.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

There ARE no disinterested observers in these debates.  The rational thing is to compare expertise and assess incentives, when deciding how to weight the opinions of various agencies, groups, businesses, etc.  One way is to check the STARTING facts that a report uses.  How reliable is the information it began with?  And from what philosophical positions does it proceed, as it evaluates that data?

I do know that in the summer, when CBO was producing documents saying health care “reform” would bankrupt the nation, Democrats were bashing the reports, but now that CBO has produced a neutral document, suddenly CBO is the good guy again.