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Six Sigma Collins on the Military

15 Apr

Chris Collins, who is casually running to represent the newly-constructed 27th Congressional District in Congress, hasn’t learned his lesson. He is still trying clumsily to foist his technocratic Six Sigma nonsense onto anything and everything. 

Astonishingly, on Saturday morning Collins told the monthly Erie County Republican Roundtable that he would close the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station and the Batavia VA Medical Center if they were not “efficient”. This calls into question what Collins considers to be efficient – the quality of care at the VA, or the military services provided by the air base versus their cost. 

Of course, things like the VA and the air base are examples of Keynesian economic stimuli, and their closure would affect the economy-at-large. But Republicans seldom acknowledge their inconsistencies on this point. 

But the measure of whether we need a VA center in Batavia shouldn’t be cold, bean-counting “efficiency”, but whether it serves a public need. Government services don’t exist to make money, and we should hardly take away critical health services from GLOW-area veterans. Likewise, the fate of the air base should be dependent not on economics, but on military need. 

In a press release, Bellavia said, 

“While efficiency is quite important, effectiveness is by far the paramount goal of our national defense,” Bellavia said. “Mr. Collins clearly does not understand this and cannot possibly represent a Congressional district which includes one of the most important United States Air Force bases in the world.”

“Likewise, the quality of service Veterans Administration hospitals provide for our wounded warriors and retired military is the most important metric in the system,” Bellavia said. “Thousands of retired military and many wounded soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines reside in the 27th Congressional District. How would they get the medical care our nation pledged to them if Mr. Collins closes the Batavia VA hospital?”

“What will Mr. Collins do – wrap the air base and hospital in his vaunted Six Sigma values and close them if they don’t pass muster?” Bellavia asked. “Will he shutter Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station if the C-130’s don’t burn bio-fuel? Will the VA hospital have to meet the infamous standard of care of private HMO’s? While I agree we must always strive for cost efficient government operations, Mr. Collins’ slavish devotion to efficiency-above-all will surely destroy our military and veterans services.”

Chris Collins thinks that government serves the taxpayer – it was his mantra throughout his single term as County Executive. But that’s only partly true – while government owes a fiduciary duty to the taxpayer to not be wasteful, its real service is to those who are in need of services. We get worked up over a guy who allegedly defrauded $4,000 – but that’s less than a drop in a massive bucket of regional economic failure. Chris Collins’ IDA doled out millions in tax breaks, loans, and incentives to the connected – that we don’t examine or criticize, because we don’t understand it or bother to wrap our heads around the dollar figures or long-term success or failure of the process. 

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