Twenty years ago, the standard joke about military spending was how they were paying $100 for a hammer, $150 for case of toilet paper and $300 for a toilet seat. After the news became public, military spending and contracts were watched a little more carefully, at least for a while.
Now it seems the Pentagon needs another lesson on military fiscal responsibility. A recent report has revealed that since 2001 the Pentagon has paid some $720M in late fees for storage containers that were returned late, if at all.
We’re talking about those big 20 foot long metal storage containers you see being loaded on ships and carried by rail cars. Most of these containers have been used to transport military equipment to Iraq and Afghanistan. Late fees can range as much as $2,200 per container and if they are not returned at all, the military will pay the shipper around $7400 per container, which are only worth about $3,200 to begin with.
In 2004, those late fees peaked at $128M. In 2010, the fees only reached $30M, which the Pentagon uses to show that they are being more fiscally responsible than they use to be. And mind you, these are only the late fees. The report did not say how much the military was actually spending to use the containers in the first place.
If I had the where-with-all, I would get into the shipping container business and cut a deal with the Pentagon for half the price of what the current shippers are charging and I’d be a rich man in less than a year.
As much as I have always been a strong advocate and supporter of our military and the men and women who sacrificially serve our nation, I cannot condone their reckless spending habits. In hard economic times like this, they need to be defending America not spending it.