Mike Ault's thoughts on various topics, Oracle related and not. Note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are not contributing to the overall theme of the BLOG or are insulting or demeaning to anyone. The posts on this blog are provided “as is” with no warranties and confer no rights. The opinions expressed on this site are mine and mine alone, and do not necessarily represent those of my employer.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Prime Vendors Take Prime Cuts

In the February 2007 Readers Digest, Sacha Zimmerman has penned the article Your Money for This? In this article Sacha delineates the outrages allowed to occur within the defense Prime Vendor program. The Prime Vendor program was initiated by the Defense Logistics Agency in response to the abuses reported in the previous spending programs in the defense agencies that resulted in the infamous $600 toilet seats and $400 hammers of yesteryear.

In this article such outrages as $20 plastic ice trays (99 cents for you and I), $1,000 hotplates (last years $450 specials, less than $200 for you and I) and $22,797 mini-refrigerators (similar if not exact matches to the $99 Kmart specials), and these are just a few examples of the outrageous prices charged by the vendors in the Prime Vendor program. It seems whenever one of these defense vendors gets a monopoly they can’t resist bilking the government out of everything they can, and the government allows it! If they are overcharging this much for minor items one has to wonder how much we are being raped for the guns, bombs and other “real” defense hardware. Perhaps we should put the controls in the hands of Walmart with bonuses designated by how much they save us on these bulk purchases based on amount paid below an average retail price.

I believe it is time for a civilian oversight committee, appointed by a lottery system, who is charged with periodic, random overviews of non-security defense purchases. Participants would serve for a term of a year during which time they would be paid the same salary with the same benefits of their civilian job and their civilian job would be guaranteed during that time period to be held for them. All reasonable expenses to perform the required audits would be covered.

If the oversight committee finds that these prime vendors have charged more than a specified amount above the average price for the items they provide, the prime vendors are immediately dropped from the program and are prohibited from participating in government contracts for a period of years, say 5. In addition, if any member of the oversight committee is found to be taking kick-backs, payoffs or bribes of any sort from any prime vendor or prime vendor alternate, then both the committee member and the CEO or president of the company that bribed or otherwise enticed them would be sentenced to a prison sentence of at least 5 years with no chance of parole.

It is time the congressmen and senators that allow and condone these billing practices have the controls removed from their well greased hands and us poor dumb civilians given more of a say into how our money is spent.

Friday, January 05, 2007


Mike Ault, Copyright Jan 4, 2007

A recent happening at a local university got me thinking. You see, they had a very expensive sculpture, entitled “Spaceship Earth” that collapsed because it was created with the wrong kind of glue. Seems almost a parallel to our current situation on Earth doesn’t it? Have we created the world community with the wrong kind of glue?

What have we tried to glue our world community together with? In the past, we used the glue of conflict and conquest, of course many would argue we are still using the same glue today, but I would have to disagree. Today we use the glue of economics and only resort to force when economics and its sister glue diplomacy, fail. Is economics the proper glue to hold our world together?

No one would disagree that economics (the ebb and flow of money and resources) is powerful glue, it will force dire enemies to the bargaining table. Unfortunately economics can also destabilize and dissolve bonds just as easily if it is not applied correctly. So economics requires an expert craftsman to produce the desired bonding, as we have seen in the current world, these are few and far between.

So what would a proper glue for a world be? A glue that doesn’t dissolve as many bonds as it makes? How about glue composed of equal parts of compassion and tolerance? Any creed or belief that says it is better or has more right to exist, or that it is the only proper one is not binding glue, it drives disunity, stifles compassion and promotes intolerance.

Of course there are obviously creeds and beliefs that by their very nature are intolerable to society (those promoting human sacrifice, cannibalism or exploitation of the weak for example) must be expunged in civilized society, compassion and tolerance must also be tempered with wisdom and have boundaries. Of course one could argue that if everyone embraced the concepts of compassion and tolerance, such atrocities would not be allowed to occur anyway.

If we don’t find binding glue for the world I am afraid we will meet the same fate as the sculpture “Spaceship Earth”, a pile of ruble in the early morning rain.