November 2009

Civilian Contractor Toll in Iraq and Afghanistan Ignored by Defense Dept.
T. Christian Miller

The Department of Defense is not alone in its lack of attention to the issue. Neither the State Department nor USAID could tell with certainty how many contractors they employed, the GAO found. USAID, for instance, failed to report how many civilians it had put to work under a $91 million contract to develop hydroelectric plants and small and medium businesses in Afghanistan. A State Department contracting officer insisted that there was no need to track local Iraqi hires, despite specific statutory language to the contrary, the report found. “Officials acknowledged that they are likely undercounting the actual number of contractors working in Iraq and Afghanistan,” the GAO concluded. State, USAID and DOD officials all told the GAO that they were working to fix the problem.

What it all means is that nine years after the launch of the most contractor-intensive war in U.S. history, nobody is sure how many contractors there are, what they are doing, or how many have been killed or wounded.

You win the long term war by connecting Iraq and Afghanistan to the outside world. Afghanistan will take much, much longer to integrate than Iraq (getting them to the 11th century will take years, if not decades), but it would be nice if our government took a serious approach to our contractors now.


Politicians Butt In at Bailed-Out GM

That same month, GM dealer Pete Lopez in Spencer, W.Va., received notice that GM was giving him just over a year to shut down his Chevy, Pontiac and Buick dealership, which he’d acquired two years earlier. GM’s move to shutter more than 1,300 dealerships — about one-quarter of its network — was central to its restructuring because it cleared out underperforming showrooms and brought the network more in line with its shrunken sales.

With an assist from his mayor, Mr. Lopez took his complaint straight to one of his state’s senators, Jay Rockefeller, the Democratic chairman of the powerful Commerce Committee.

Sen. Rockefeller sent a letter to GM headquarters on Mr. Lopez’s behalf, according to a staff aide. He arranged for Mr. Lopez to come testify before a Senate panel in early June, alongside GM Chief Executive Frederick “Fritz” Henderson. The senator introduced the two men, giving Mr. Lopez a chance to make a personal pitch.

“He couldn’t have been nicer,” Mr. Lopez said of the GM CEO. “He said to me, ‘We’ve made some quick decisions and now we’re going to look it all over again.’ “

“Mr. LaNeve called and said, ‘I’ve got some good news for you. We’re going to save your dealership,’ ” Mr. Lopez recalls. He says he owes it all to Sen. Rockefeller.


Yankee Payroll by Year since 1996:

1996 62,000,000
1997 73,000,000
1998 74,000,000
1999 92,000,000
2000 113,000,000
2001 110,000,000
2002 126,000,000
2003 150,000,000
2004 183,000,000
2005 208,000,000
2006 195,000,000
2007 190,000,000
2008 209,000,000
2009 201,000,000
Total: 1,986,000,000

$2B for 5 titles in 14 years and $1.7B this decade for 2.

This is the Yankees first world championship after spending $200M plus in a season. Like they say, third time’s the charm!

The Lost Generation
Peter Coy

What’s more, the baby boom generation is counting on a productive young workforce to help fund retirement and health care. Instead, young people risk getting tracked into jobs that don’t pay as well, says Lisa B. Kahn of the Yale School of Management. That would mean lower tax payments for Social Security and Medicare.

Young people are obviously less experienced than their elders, so they don’t look as good on a piece of paper. I’ve heard of friends that have had multiple interviews with companies only to lose the job to someone twice their age. Companies just don’t want to take the chance in this economic climate.