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This is why I always say take anything in Reason magazine with a grain of salt

May 21, 2010

The Pentagon’s brownie recipe is 26 pages long. – The idea is to show how screwed up the government is, “look it takes 26 pages to tell some poor Mess Specialist how to make brownies”. The problem here is two fold, a) it’s not a brownie recipe, it’s a contract specification for brownies to be included in MREs, and b) the author obviously has no idea what she is talking about. The reason the specifications are so detailed is to insure that a usable product is produced. If you buy 5,000,000 brownies from company A you want to insure you are getting your monies worth. Through hard experience the pentagon has discovered that means detailed contracts and specifications. Having to go such a route undoubtedly adds cost to each individual item, but it lowers cost in the long run by avoiding issues such as having to destroyed a million MREs because they aren’t shelf stable or getting batteries that wont actually power what they are supposed to. The reason the specs are written in such stilted language, a source of Ms Mangu-Ward’s ire is because it is a contract and lawyers will shred anything with any sort of ambiguity, which then adds cost again.

It’s easy to make fun of things like this but to present it as some sort of damning indictment of all government programs is asinine, and that is Reason’s M.O.

(That isn’t to say that the vast majority of government programs can’t use improvement, but so can most business processes. Just go to work in some ISO regulated(?) business and see how outdated and inefficient a lot of their practices are)


An indictment of the military that makes sense. For the record I love the academies, but with all the scandals over the past 5 years or so they do need some overhaul.

A pretty good discussion of Credit Default Swaps

3 Comments leave one →
  1. xbradtc permalink
    May 21, 2010 9:33 am

    Concur on all three points. And CDR Salamander has been all over the Academies story for months and years, often with Professor Fleming as a guest.

    Best platoon leader I ever had came from The Citadel.

    Worst came from West Point.

    And MRE brownies aren’t that bad.


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