Monday, January 18, 2010

Indians and chiefs...

This e-mail from an old Navy buddy (and my former boss):
I just finished reading my January  “Seapower 2010 Naval Almanac”, in which the Navy League national president, Dan Branch, laments that the current building rate will not maintain the CNO’s stated goal of 313 ships. He writes that the current building rate will sustain a long term level of only 240 ships.

In the back of the same magazine I found the listing of flag and general officers in the Navy Department. I counted 325 flag officers. Am I the only one who thinks this ratio (313 to 325) is really screwed up? What do you say we trade some flag officers for some ships?

I rely on my friends to tell me when I am mistaken. What do you think?


P.S. I also counted the blue-water, power-projection ships (i.e. FFGs or better) and came up with less than 200.

P.S. I can remember when I was working in the Pentagon and John Lehman was trying to build a 600 ship navy. At the same time we were joking about the Air Force having more General Officers than aircraft. Now, I guess the joke is on us.

[Note: for non-navy folks, flag officers are admirals]

It reminded me of the curious tipping point academia reached a few months ago.  I cannot find the link, so feel free to be skeptical, but it explained there are now more tenured professors in administration than teaching.

This pattern, I think asserts itself in protected sectors. Certainly the military is one - who would argue for defense frugality with 2 wars in progress?  Another sector has been higher education which has been able to operate outside the normal laws of supply and demand for some time.

That may be ending for universities as both endowments and state aid are plummeting.
An economist with the state's Legislative Finance Committee met with the University of New Mexico's Board of Regents this week and suggested nearly in $10 million cuts.
The LFC said that UNM could make up some of those losses by raising tuition.
High education could be hit hard when lawmakers convene for the legislative session in Santa Fe next week to cover the state's multi-million dollar budget deficit.
One proposal calls for steep tuition increases at universities and two-year colleges.
Included in the recommendation would be a two percent wage cut for all state employees, including teachers and professors. [More from one of any number of similar stories]

There tends to be a delayed reaction to economic downturns in certain sectors. As the slow budget cycle of state legislatures grinds to an ugly end, higher education is facing some seriously bad news. 

Meanwhile, the military is obviously adding forces at the top.


Dave said...

I'm not surprised--they just put a captain in charge of a section in..well I won't reveal the office name to protect the guilty. You should check how many are "leading" against the number that are working.

Bill Harshaw said...

For another example, look at the chiefs in the USDA. If I ever get ambitious (doubtful) I'll do a detailed comparison, but my vague memory says there were maybe 8 Secretaries, Under Secretaries, Assistant Secretaries in 1968 and maybe 50 [something] Secretaries today.

To be fair, though I'm sure farmers see much better service from USDA today than they did in 1968. :-)