Not for the first time, I've been fired up by something I read over at Foxy's place. This time around it's the news that Gordon Brown has allocated an extra £1b to the UK's defence budget for the next year. This takes Britain's defence spending to £33.4b. As the Ministy of Defence proudly trumpets, this makes us the second biggest spenders in the world. Yay for us! (although before we get too pleased with ourselves, we should probably bear in mind that the USA spent $590b on defence in 2005 - more than the rest of the world put together. Even allowing for the fact that a US billion has one fewer zero than a UK billion, that's still a substantial amount of cash, no?)
I won't go on about this too much because there's some good stuff along these lines in the comments on Foxy's post. What I do want to add though is this:
As a UK taxpayer, I am an investor in Great Britain plc. The government is open enough to tell me how much of my money they are spending on defence (and on all of the other stuff like health and education and so on), but I want to know more: I want to know what kind of value for money I'm getting on all that expenditure.
What's the value case for that £33.4b? What kind of a return are we getting on that kind of investment? This government has bought an awful lot of tanks and guns with our money, I think we have a right to know what kind of depreciation we're getting on those assets, don't we?
How about Iraq: what was the business plan for that particular aquisition? What do you mean it was written on the back of a fag packet and is so smudged you can't read it? What kind of a way to run a business is that? What the hell would your shareholders say about that at the next AGM?
Enough is enough. Maybe it's time to sack the board.
....on the other hand, perhaps we shouldn't be too hasty. We've donated so much of our cash to this government since 1997 that we're probably all due a peerage or something aren't we?
20 hours ago