The Talking Dog

July 9, 2007, Actionable Profitable intelligence

WaPo treats us to this story on the alamring (to some... i.e., those not brain-dead) trend to "outsource" key intelligence functions to "green-badges", i.e. private contractors, rather than "blue-badges", i.e., official governmental employees.

This is the essence of privatization, boys and girls. The premise sold to the rubes is that the private sector is cheaper, more efficient and accountable than the bloated, non-responsive government. Of course, in the areas where the two have competed head to head, such as in education, we found this to be nonsense... the disastrous "Edison project" went nowhere, because it turns out, while the private sector can provide the same services... it cannot do so less expensively. Ditto health care, or, for example, even in that current glaring example, Iraq, where contractors are in play to a greater extent than ever before... just today, we learn that the Falljuah fiasco was probably the fault of the contractors. And I will say that, in my own career, which has included stints in both the public and private sectors, it is the private sector, with the easier to understand profit motive, that is far, far more dysfunctional than the public sector, which despite its murkier motives of "protecting the public fisc" and "doing the public good"... somehow gets on with it, with far less intra-office back-stabbing, infighting and personality clashes (not that these don't happen in both sectors).

But that's not really what matters. The out-sourcing of some functions-- such as language analysis, for example-- is not per se bad, because key skills within government may be lacking. But the ultimate motivation for doing these things is, of course, profit.

The problem is, both the "legitimate" profit, and the actual motivations for these programs (i.e. "the kickbacks") have sinister underbellies: the profits (and to some extent, the kickbacks) are recycled back either via K Street and the RNC (or more directly in paper bags or Swiss numbered bank accounts) to the politicians and party responsible for maintaining the unholy alliance-- something banned, of course, if government employees were performing the functions. Which means while our "blue badge" government employees have but one loyalty, to the nation and its security, the contractors have two-- to their employers, and to their employers' employers (and I do not mean "the United States of America").

For the participants, of course, this is a "win-win" situation. Of course, since those participants do not include the American people or our security... well, you get the picture.


The problem with lambasting "contractors" as such is that everyone who works for a contracting firm--no matter how unfair the conditions--gets punished when "contractors" are hauled through the streets in pointy hats.

A lot of jerks like me are "contractors" because regular jobs (for example, jobs with benefits) simply aren't available or have declined so far in real compensation that the no-benefits deal is better.

We low-end "contractors" are just as much victims of the overall contracting scam as everyone else. Spare us a thought when you're screwing our bosses.

Posted by A. Lowly Techwriter at July 9, 2007 12:22 PM

Sorry to blog-whore, but I've just issued a blogger's challenge that I would like you to consider.


Posted by Mixter at July 9, 2007 10:38 PM