Murphy's Law: May 4, 2005


The U.S. Navy is not happy with the shipyards that specialize in building warships. Decades of shrinking orders, and increasing lobbying of politicians, has resulted in a few inefficient yards, protected by a lot of political influence. Because of the political patronage, the navy cannot go to more efficient, and less expensive, shipyards for warships. This situation is pretty perverse. The political pressures stem from elected officials threatened with angry voters if the shipyards dont get enough contracts, and have to lay off thousands of employees. To increase the pressure, the shipyards are big contributors to select politicians election campaigns. This system has worked, and the navy is not happy with the shoddy workmanship, and inability to spend their budget as they want to. The navy knows that other shipyards are doing better, more innovative work, at less cost that the politically connected yards. But admirals thinking of going up against the system would be committing career suicide. But the rumbling from within the ranks is getting louder and louder. Admirals who would not hesitate to risk their lives in combat, are coming around to doing the unthinkable, and putting their reputations and careers on the line to deal with the shipyard problem. This would be a rare event, for the paper bullets of peacetime politics, that shred reputations and careers, almost never fail to keep the generals and admirals in line.


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