Monday, June 27, 2005

Eminently suitable

So via No Mister Nice Blog, we have this New York Times story (registration required) which digs into precisely why the military is having such trouble getting armored Humvees to our soldiers on the front lines:

The Defense Department continues to rely on just one small company in Ohio to armor Humvees. And the company, O'Gara-Hess & Eisenhardt, has waged an aggressive campaign to hold onto its exclusive deal even as soaring rush orders from Iraq have been plagued by delays. The Marine Corps, for example, is still awaiting the 498 armored Humvees it sought last fall, officials told The Times.

In January, when military officials tried to speed production by buying the legal rights to the armor design so they could enlist other venders to help, O'Gara demurred, calling the move a threat to its "current and future competitive position," according to e-mail records obtained from the Army.
Now, Steve M. asks a quite reasonable question:

...if it was believed that O'Gara's refusal to share the armor design was endangering troops, why didn't Bush call O'Gara's CEO himself and say Hello, this is the President of the United States and I think a little flexibility on your part will prevent a certain number of soldiers from coming home in body bags?

As I said, a reasonable question -- although the actual answer is (as the querist knew perfectly well) utterly obvious. But let's assume for the sake of argument that Bush tried that and it didn't work -- that the CEO of O'Gara didn't care.

Well, the Supreme Court just upheld eminent domain for a wide variety of public purposes. Putting aside the merits of their decision (on which opinions vary), is there a more eminently suitable (so to speak) case for eminent domain than this? Here is a piece of property -- intellectual property -- which is standing in the way of the safety of our soldiers in the field. Is there a better public purpose than protecting them? If O'Gara won't sell willingly, why not just take the property under eminent domain (properly compensating the company, of course, as eminent domain requires)? Unless, of course, we only believe in taking the property of poor citizens and not, say, companies and the wealthy citizens that own them.

No comments: