The logic of AA in action (bases & grants)

Topics: AA
07 May 1991


Another installment in Ervan's personal soapbox of ranting...
The following examples are not AA per se, but I think they
exemplify that same kind of bad reasoning.
For some time know different factions in and near the DoD have
been trying to close military bases which are deemed unnecessary. These
moves are always opposed by the congressmen whose districts will be
affected. The irony is congress (apparently) agrees in principle that
some bases should be closed. Different levels of binding independent
decision making have been proposed. But, even when the debate over which
bases should be closed never occurs in congress, the final bill is
debated there.
I want to note in passing that congress should have no
such fine control over defense matters. The U.S. has a more socialist
military than the Soviets to the extent that if the Sovient military
says lets build a submarine in Estonia, it'll happen there; if the U.S.
military says lets build one in L.A. the senator from Iowa will
want it built in Des Moines instead.
Anyway, the point: I recently read an analysis of the latest
base closing bill. I have forgotten where I read it, the Houston Post
I think. The final comment was that the most recent bill was fair
because it proportionally closed bases in Republican and Democratic
districts. Fair? hardly, riduculous? yes. It seems to me that the
bases should be closed based on which ones have the least (cost effective)
strategic importance. If they are all in Democratic districts, that's
the way the cookie crumbles. I, as a taxpayer, want the best defense
I can get for my dollar; I don't want to create a jobs program in
podunk Idaho. I don't that corner of the world anything. If they
deserve welfare of some sort, then let's be honest and fund it that
The other example came from Michael Gerndt, a
visiting researcher from Vienna here in STC for a couple of weeks.
He was telling me what a mess it is to get grants from ESPRIT (sp?),
the European Economic Community equivalent of the NSF, because to
satisfy all of the contributing countries projects have to be split
between some number of countries, regardless of where the expertise lies.
In particular, he was complaining that one of his grants was held up
because he had to find someone in Spain and there wasn't anyone there
qualified to work on this project. I may have some details of this
anecdote wrong, but that was certainly the thrust of it.
In both of these cases as in AA, the assumption that group X &
group Y should be represented equally if there is no prejudice operating
is wrong.