Thursday, November 01, 2007

An evergreen headline

Some of us in the newspaper business would call the headline of this piece an "evergreen," that is, a headline that could be used over and over agin because the phenomenon will be repeated again and again: "Pentagon Submits Budget, And Services Ask for More." (Here's a follow-up letter to the editor.) Isn't that generally the case, and not just for the Pentagon and the services, but for virtually every government department and sub-department? The institutional imperative of every government agency (and of most organizations in the private and independent sectors) is to grow. A private company, however, can live without growth so long as it is profitable. There are no such compensations in the public sector.

The story's example is the C-17 transport plane, which the Pentagon budget zeroed out. But the Air Force "behind the scenes" and Boeing and the congresscritters over whom it has influence, lobbied to get a $2.42 million earmark for more C-17s. The examples will vary, but the general tendency is the same throughout government.

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