The Military & Government Spending:
What I Learned While Serving My Country
I joined the U.S. Navy in 1986, spent three with the U.S. Marine Corp. and went to college following the end of my enlisted, contractual obligation in 1991. I then went on to earn both a bachelor`s and a master`s degree.
While serving my Country, I learned many things; some of which I took with me when I left, while others I left behind. However, one of the single most important lessons I learned was how the military and government spends "our" money. And to be honest with you, I was so dumbfounded, it made me sick! Here`s what happened...
While serving in my last duty station, 32nd Street Naval Station Dental Center (the largest Naval Dental Center in the World), I ran the Oral Diagnosis Department (OD) under a Commander for whom I had a lot of respect. One of my duties was to order department supplies. We had an annual budget, if I recall correctly, of $100,000.00 per year -- or $25,000.00 a quarter.
Being the type of person I am, I took my responsibilities very seriously. So, after scrutinizing our current inventory, going over the supply log, the balance of our budget, and ordering what we needed to cover us through the rest of the quarter (including some overstock for the just-in-case times), I realized that we could honestly cut our budget and save roughly $6,000 to $7,000 per quarter -- hence, an annual savings of $24,000.00 to $28,000.00. But for argument sake, let`s average this and simply say we could`ve saved $26,000.00 per year.
The OD Dept. was one of, if not the, smallest departments in the world`s Largest Naval Dental Center. So I figured that I would impress my Commander and share this information -- I called for a meeting to discuss my thoughts. Once I explained how our one-tiny-little-department could save so much money, just imagine how much money could be saved if EVERY United States Governmental (city, state, worldwide, etc.) department would take their budget seriously and scrutinize it as though they were a private company, we could save millions if not billions or even trillions of dollars. Perhaps the excess funds could pay for bonuses, increased pay for the lowly paid military personnel, or hey, perhaps even settle the National Deficit. WOW! What a thought! The potential for ALL this excess money was (and still is) unlimited.
Following my "pitch" on the budget, the Commander started laughing at me and said, while still laughing, "son, you have no idea how the Government works, do you?" Well, based on how he responed, I said, "considering the fact that you`re laughing at me, I would guess that I don`t." The Commander went on to educate me on how the Government works. He explained that if I do not spend the entire budget, including a "money dump" and over spend, we would lose that much money on the next budget go around`s.
Still feeling a bit confused, but wanting to make sure I understood him correctly, I asked, "so what you`re saying is that if every department within the United States Government doesn`t spend their entire budget, and even exceed it, we receive that much less next year?" I continued, "so, hypothetically, if I spend $10,000.00 less than our budget allows, we`ll receive $10,000.00 less next year? That`s F-ing STUPID!" He then very seriously sat forward in his chair, looked me hard in the eyes, and told me I better not short our budget in the name of saving money. And then suggested that when my enlistment ended, I should get out, go to college and one day run my own business. Little did he know, that was the greatest advice I`d received to that date. I took that advice and did exactly as he suggested.
So, the single most important thing I learned while serving our country is that our country does NOT know how to budget money, and if they actually took the budget seriously, and or didn`t have thieves in high political positions, or any position for that matter, the United States Constitution may actually mean something.
I love my country and support our troops, but sadly, do not trust trust government!
Glenn Brandon Burke, M.Ed., Las Veags Speaker