The Army’s Gold-Plated Guns: $200 Million-Plus

Your tax dollars at work: US ArmyYour tax dollars at work: US Army photoMark Thompson of Time‘s Battleland blog flagged a funny-looking item Monday from the Pentagon’s daily contracting announcements—click to embiggen:

As Thompson points out, a $77.4 million contract for 900 machine guns would come out to $86,000 a pop. That’s a deal even Blackwater and KBR would envy!

But not so fast: After calling up the Army’s public affairs folks, Thompson learned that the multi-million-dollar pricetag is the cost ceiling for several years’ worth of orders on the guns; once future shipments are factored in, the max cost of each weapon should be closer to $8,600—which still is quite a bit more than that Colt .45 your dad takes to his tea party rallies. (Of course, you get a lot more firepower at the higher price point, which is why you should talk your dad out of joining the Oathkeepers and going Rambo on the government anytime soon.)

Three lessons from this affair:

1) As Thompson got the Army spokesman to concede, this “is a pretty bad contract announcement.” It makes you wonder about the accuracy of the military’s other 20 or so daily public contract announcements. Pentagon math FTW.

2) It’s nice that the Army spins this as a decent deal for the taxpayer. Keep in mind, though, that $77.4 million is still 26 to 39 times what NPR generally gets got from the federal government each year.

3) Oh, by the way, this is on top of a $126 million contract that Colt got three years ago for the same danged weapon. That makes $203.4 million in all. Apparently, we’re going through crew-served machine guns like a knife through hot butter. Except we don’t have any butter, because we bought all these frickin’ guns.

Here’s what your tax money really buys: A new M240B machine-gun barrel to replace the one this guy just melted.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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