05/04/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Letting a Private Think Tank Facilitate DADT's Repeal

It's bad enough that the federal government has decided that the Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal must be preceded by a year-long study. It will take twelve months for a group of policy wonks to figure out that letting already gay soldiers tell their comrades they are gay without risking their jobs will not irreparably harm troop functionality.


But, now, the wonks in charge of this study are actually employees of a private think tank, the RAND Corporation. That means that tax dollars are being funneled out of government so that a high priced team of private employees can figure out that troop integration -- a phenomenon practiced all over the world including in Israel and Canada and the United Kingdom -- won't lose any wars.

Privatization has many costs. When governments cede control over core functions, accountability is lost, oversight often can't keep up with the private actors and the provision of quality services, whether military, international or domestic, slowly disappears. Blackwater's actions in Iraq and New Orleans provide a perfect example of this lesson.

Blackwater also taught us that paying for private contractors to fulfill government obligations often requires a larger piece of public resources than if the government maintained control of its own core functions. That means that outsourcing actually costs more money, dollar for dollar, than having the government do its job.

Part of being a representative is being able to make decisions, based on empirical evidence in an efficient manner. Spending a year waiting for a study that could cost the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in order to discover what the rest of the world already knows is not making decisions in an efficient manner.

Not to mention the fact that the RAND Corporation spearheaded the long-held American policy of backing military dictatorships in East Asia. It also came up with the brilliant idea to escalate the bombing of civilian targets in the Vietnam War. They have been proponents of escalating nuclear arms production (they came up with the idea of mutually assured destruction) and were the creators of the then most advanced nuclear weapons delivery system in the world.

The DADT repeal is an important step on the road to equality in the United States. It is something to celebrate and a moment, when it comes, to feel proud of the tolerance and respect Americans have slowly cultivated. It should not be an opportunity to funnel taxpayer money the deeply debt ridden government doesn't have to a conservative private think tank in order to facilitate a smooth transition to a policy the majority of Americans already support.

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