Friday, August 03, 2012

The Importance of Drudgery: Maintenance

As it happens, the Post has an article on Afghanistan, describing a post and equipment the Americans handed over to the Afghans which they lack the ability to maintain. And the Times has an article on the problems Assad's military is having maintaining its high-tech equipment, particularly helicopters, during the current hostilities.

The conjunction of the two is an occasion to once again observe the importance of drudgery.  Yes, it's ego-building to do things the first time, to buy fancy weapons, to give high-tech stuff to our allies.  It's good for us, it's good for our arms manufacturers, but it's bad.  Over the years I think I was pretty tolerant of my bosses, but what I couldn't stand was the people who had no regard for nitty-gritty, for the details, for all the steps needed to implement something and then, as I learned by painful experience, the need to spend time and money maintaining what we'd done.  It was all too easy for the big shots, for the guys in the ivory tower of the USDA Administration Building, to talk big.

Though I'm generally an Obama supporter, his administration started off wrong by talking of "shovel-ready" projects, as the President later admitted.  There shouldn't be many such projects in any agency, because you should be working on the stuff for which you have money, and not the stuff for which you may not get money.  And doing the work to take projects off the shelf and into the contracting process isn't likely to create many jobs.

Maintenance on the other hand could create jobs, but its got no sex appeal, no glamor. 

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