I don't often preface my work, either you get it or you don't. Sometimes I reiterate where I am or what I'm doing, but very rarely prefaced. This is an exception. This post was started on 12 Aug. I posted it in draft form on my blog on 8 Sep. When I wrote it I noticed I had a similar post entitled Smoking a SIGAR. Same topic, different observations. The SIGAR post may come out later, but for now, there's Cut Fruit. In light of the actions of our elected officials in Washington, D.C. I think it's appropriate to share now, at a point that Congress has collected over $2 million dollars in salaries while not operating because of funding squabbles. It isn't this Congress's fault that while no other part of the government is funded completely or at the adequate amount that their paychecks still go into the bank on time, but they aren't bothering to fix that for the next one either.
So, with no further ado, Cut Fruit:
Not long before I headed home for R&R I was talking with Pat (because, again, first names are for officers) and he commented on the cut fruit. Now after two months of talking with him I have no idea why I haven't heard about the cut fruit before.
Pat is an engineer, too. His dad was an engineer. It's in the blood. He jokes about hating spreadsheets, but I suspect he has a spreadsheet he uses to track all the spreadsheets he doesn't use. It's in the blood.
Not all engineers are in touch with their artistic side like me. Not that my projects look artistic, I'd still build the world out of cinder blocks (kind of like we do in Afghanistan), but I can take a big picture and pare it down to an anecdote or small example. This comes in handy in my engineering job because of how I describe things. I consider a major part of my job to be taking the people who talk french and the people who are talking German and get them communicating with one another using English. My ability to touch the human side of things means I know which group to say is using English and which group is using German. Sometimes people are touchy about such things, especially the french.
I don't catch them all, but Pat, who usually compliments my ability to catch the macro and describe it with the inane, absolutely nailed one of the biggest things there is to grab and explained it with cut fruit.
Every morning Pat walks in to the DFAC (dining facility for the un-acronymed) and sees cut fruit. This starts off the day poorly and he can't get over it. Cut fruit is wasteful. If all the fruit isn't eaten, it will get thrown away. And it's never all eaten, there's simply too much. To cut the fruit takes a lot of man power. All morning long there are people cutting fruit, putting fruit out on the bar, and later on throwing out the uneaten, unused cut fruit. We are in a war zone. There are people coming through the line with weapons, that will be getting into an armored vehicle and going on patrol, or training the Afghan army, or just plain run the risk of meeting up with the bad guys and getting a street named after them, or a building, or some other piece of infrastructure that is named to memorialize a fallen soldier. Some of these soldiers get cut fruit but most of the fruit does not go on patrol. It goes into the trash.
Every day, we spend money on cut fruit, and Pat can't get over it. He leaves from the cut fruit and comes in to work, where we argue over how to more efficiently spend the government's money. The money that Congress wastefully blows by appropriating it for causes and getting bent out of shape when it is wasted because the system they installed for controlling the spending of the money is inefficient because that is the way they wanted the system. I would say they spend it like a drunken sailor, but I don't want to insult anybody that's ever served in the Navy, after all, even drunken sailors stop spending money when their wallet's empty.
Congress wants cut fruit.
I had to come to grips long ago about the way the federal government spends its money. Congress gives up efficiency in order to maintain control. Congress does not want efficiency because the most efficient way to spend money is to not allow Congress to spend it.
If you don't learn anything at all from reading my blog, learn this. Send it to people who don't read it, never ever forget it. And the next time you hear of some wasteful expenditure of money remember it:
Congress gives up efficiency in order to maintain control.
A subsidiary effect of this is that Congress gets bent out of shape when their money is spent inefficiently--the way they want it. Congress does not want to admit that they spend it inefficiently, that would be asinine and a sure-fire way to not get re-elected. So Congress spends money to investigate the inefficient way they spend money. They then get reports from their inefficient investigators that say the money was spent exactly like Congress wanted it to be spent. Of course their reports don't say that, their reports say that it was spent in accordance with some bloated, asinine, inefficient system. The report doesn't say that Congress invented the system.
Pat can't get over the cut fruit. I can. I can because I have to. I can't do my job hung up on the fact that it is a dumb system. All I can do is spend the government's money like it is my own. My efficiency with the government's money pales in comparison with Congress's inefficiency. I can never catch up to their stupid. But I couldn't sleep at night if I didn't do all I could to try. Do not ever mistake my ability to get over the cut fruit as agreement with the system.
There's an awful lot of stupid, I've mentioned it before. Unfortunately, there isn't just cut fruit on the bar. There is a wide variety of cut fruit on the bar.