Club Fed – Porkus Pentagonus
Jim Grichar (aka Exx-Gman)
with the space shuttle Columbia's demise and worries over war with
Iraq, news about the federal budget has been pushed to the back
burner by most of the media.
the national security area, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (aka
Rummy) apparently has abandoned his desire to transform the U.S.
military into a lean, mean, fighting machine and is instead seeking
to raise defense spending to the $500 billion dollar level by fiscal
year 2009 (excluding any costs of a conducting a war on Iraq).
his recent tangle with Kim Jong-Il, in which Rummy essentially threatened
to have our military fight Kim's army, made him think twice and
ask for more money. Or maybe Rummy was just buying off the military
chiefs' support, all so that he could also get the kinds of toys
he wants. After all, the cost of running an empire is high!
like all other federal agencies, the Pentagon's budget is bad news
for taxpayers, and it is loaded with pork barrel projects
Porki Pentagoni, including such operations as the Defense
Department's military resorts, which should be called Club Fed.
operations like Club Fed would be an embarrassment to any
federal department if publicized. That is why bureaucrats usually
try to bury such obvious pork deeper in their operations. But the
military has a lot of chutzpah and has conjured up what they think
is a good rationale for keeping these facilities.
the Cold War, the military services opened resorts the Army's
are known as Armed Forces Recreation Centers (AFRC's) that
are available to all military and military retirees, including dependents,
as well as DOD civilians and foreign military stationed at U.S.
bases. Known locations of Club Fed resorts
include Hawaii, Alaska, Washington, Florida, Germany, and Italy.
The resorts in South Korea are located within active U.S. military
bases. Given the military penchant for secrecy when it comes to
dealing with perks, additional unpublicized Club Fed resorts
to the AFRC web site, the resorts are "... to provide rest, relaxation,
recreation, and sustainment for Army personnel, their families,
and other members of the total Defense Force." AFRC's "... support
readiness, retention, and well-being. AFRC's will be prepared to
assume contingency missions in support of mobilization and/or combat
if one believed that the current military was not oversized
fit for an empire and that our troops deserved such amenities,
anyone with two ounces of brains knows that the military does not
have to offer this perk to attract and retain quality personnel.
the real world, military recruitment ads emphasize in-service and
post-service educational benefits to enlistees, something that will
help them earn more once they leave the service. In addition, DOD
also offers re-enlistment bonuses to retain key personnel.
with the desire to make the military a career have done so because
they like it, the pay is relatively good, and because they can retire
at roughly half pay after 20 years of service. And if career soldiers
did not make that decision based upon the prospect of a cheap vacation,
it is also ridiculous to offer those benefits to military retirees.
if Club Fed is of little or no utility in recruitment and
retention, the AFRC mission statement claims that the resorts would
be used in support of mobilization and combat operations. However,
the total number of troops that might be lodged in those facilities
would likely be 3,0004,000, an insignificant number.
the highly questionable military value of these resorts, why have
they not been included in the earlier military base closure lists
(Author's note: I served as the Chief Economist at the 1991 Defense
Base Closure Commission)? The straight answer is that they have
been protected by flag rank officers (generals and admirals) who
enjoy staying in what are normally expensive tourist spots at below
market prices. Building them big enough to allow enlisted troops
and other DOD-related employees to stay at these resorts, as well
as listing those facilities as being necessary for mobilizations,
is a nice cover for this Porkus Pentagonus.
what kind of a perk is a vacation at one of these resorts? Well,
one of the most popular military resorts is the beautiful Hale Koa
Hotel, located in Ft. DeRussy on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu. Initially
constructed with taxpayer funds and opened in 1975, the Hale Koa
states that it does not now get subsidies and that it did not get
military construction funds for its 1991 expansion, which almost
doubled its size to 817 rooms.
rates are well below what its next door neighbor, the Hilton Hawaiian
Village, charges. At the Hale Koa, double occupancy rooms range
from $68 per day for the lowest ranking enlisted soldier up to $174
per day for those on official travel (paid for by taxpayers) or
foreign soldiers. The Hilton Hawaiian Village's double occupancy
rates range from $189$345 per night, about double the Hale
military resorts particularly the one in Florida, which is
close to Walt Disney World offer similar bargains compared
to nearby private resorts. And unlike private citizens, the military
and other customers of Club Fed resorts generally do not
pay sales or other local taxes, and the facility owned by
the military is exempt from local property taxes.
Rummy were really the whiz-bang manager that his supporters claim
he is, he ought to take some tips from another Donald Trump
that is by reading "The Art of the Deal" and then privatizing
the Club Fed chain of resorts. Selling the Hale Koa and
the rest of Ft. DeRussy a total of 72 acres that The
Real Donald might consider a trophy property
alone might bring in $400500 million. The other Club Fed
properties could probably fetch $100200 million more.
Thus, privatizing Club Fed could bring in more than half
a billion dollars for taxpayers.
don't bet on Rummy selling off the Club Fed chain of resorts
or getting rid of other Porki Pentagoni. Since he is so
eager to wage war on Iraq and threaten North Korea, it is obvious
that the only group he really needs to keep peace with is the senior
ranking U.S. military officers. This explains his cave-in on the
defense budget as well as his unwillingness to cut Pentagon pork.
Grichar (aka Exx-Gman) [send
him mail] was an economist with the federal government. He writes
to "un-spin" the federal government’s attempt to con the
public, whether through its own public relations organs or via the
usual stooges and dupes in the mainstream media.
© 2003 LewRockwell.com