By Nathan Barton
We just can’t depend on government to do things right.
Lovers of liberty are not the only people who embarrass themselves with what they say. (See my last commentary on JPFO, Hawai’i, and Levi Strauss.)
North Dakota Senator Keith Cramer is a fairly new Republican member of the US Senate from a state that has been blue as much as red. He apparently is at least somewhat a Trumpista, although this comment is critical of the Administration. I wonder if he believes that he won in ND because of Trump, or is trying to rally never-Trumpers and the many regressives (liberals) that still are tolerated in the state. I know little about him.
But THIS embarrassing correspondence was reported in The Blaze , which quotes him directly:
“The Army Corp of Engineers has been an abstract [sic] failure and should not be trusted to secure the southern border. We need someone to #BuildTheWall on time and under budget.”
I hope the man is smart enough to be embarrassed by his statements, both in the above Tweet and in a public letter to the DHS secretary “Who we choose to build the wall defines whether it actually gets built,” Cramer wrote in his letter, which he released to the public.
Shame, shame. An adult who cannot figure out how to override the “autofill” feature of the software, nor proofread his missives. Or who is too stupid to recognize and understand the difference between “abject” and “abstract.”
Not only that, but one who doesn’t know that it is the Army Corps of Engineers and not a “Corp.” (Which as far as I know is only a slang or abbreviation for “Corporation” which most assuredly the USACE is not.) Again, is that the modern lack of ability to spell, or proofread, or override the software? Or is it just stupidity?
I know we all make mistakes (I surely do) but this isn’t so simple as that.
I would like to think it is NOT purely stupidity: he is nearly 60 and raised and educated in an era when a college degree still meant something. (He has a BA from Concordia and an MA in business management from the University of Mary, a Catholic school in ND.)
And he surely could not be in such a hurry as to fail to proofread. Or foolish enough to not have his staff proof it for him? Whatever the reason, shame on him.
And even more so, for this second point.
Cramer wants private firms to build the wall on the southern border, because he believes that the Army Corps of Engineers is wasting money and incredibly slow in building a wall. Assuming he believes what he is writing (and we know that politicians often do not), it indicates incredible ignorance on his part. Especially for someone involved in North Dakota politics for nearly 40 years.
How does he think that the Corps of Engineers builds projects?
Since he apparently doesn’t know, let me educate him. The Corps contracts out the work. To “private sector business firms” – construction companies. Often, even the design of projects is mostly contracted out to private companies.
The Corps doesn’t have a dedicated construction workforce just sitting around to jump on projects. Certainly not Stateside. The Corps DOES have construction troops, called Combat Heavy Battalions, but those units support field operations – combat and foreign occupation, and (to stay in practice) do civic action projects and immediate response to emergencies (floods, earthquakes, hurricanes). Even in that kind of work, the Corps would rather contract with civilian firms. And sometimes, even for overseas field operations. Including Kuwait, Mesopotamia, and Afghanistan.
The civilian workers that are Corps employees are engaged in routine maintenance and repair and stateside operations like operating the big dams and powerplants on the Missouri River, and providing public works support for military bases. (Army, especially, as the USAF has its own engineers for base ops support.) And they are certainly not going to send those maintenance guys and gals down to the border to build a wall.
Cramer should know that: North Dakota is home to Garrison Dam (holding back Lake Sacagawea), a Corps project, and to two Air Force Bases (Minot and Grand Forks), as well as its own National Guard installations.
But the real point that he misses is that exactly WHO or WHAT does the actual building is not nearly so important as WHO or WHAT controls the building, directs it, manages it, and frankly, messes it up. Whether it is government employees (including soldiers) or private contractors building the wall, it is STILL government (politicians and bureaucrats) that will be in charge. Therefore, we can be certain that time AND money will be wasted. Because government cannot be trusted to do things right.
So, is he pandering, or really that ignorant (thereby making an argument for being stupid)? Willful ignorance is hard to classify as anything else. Or is it just an honest mistake? Whatever the cause for these very public mistakes, they bring shame upon Cramer himself and upon his state.
And again we can see why we cannot depend on government to do things right.