He says no to Tops In Blue

By STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 22, 2010

I agree with the retired noncommissioned officer that "Tops in Blue" and numerous other programs are a waste of money ("Time to retire Tops In Blue," letter, Feb. 3). I did not see the need to write, though, until I read the counterattacks from former Tops In Blue members.

I know there is a lot of effort that goes into those shows, but the question remains: Is it worth the cost?

I am sure one of the letter writers is correct that some of the costs are paid with nonappropriated funds − but I highly doubt the military salaries, Basic Allowance for Housing, Overseas Housing Allowance, health care and a whole list of other military costs are paid with NAF funds.

As a student of Lean Six Sigma [problem-solving method], I say the definition of value in this example is whether I as a taxpayer am willing to pay for others to take time off from their military specialties to sing and dance — and I also say no.

To be fair, I am a bit of a Scrooge and I would also say no to other singing/dancing shows in other services, as well as the World Class Athlete Program, marching bands and numerous other ceremonial units.

Capitalism is the ultimate form of democracy. If we define the customer as the military servicemembers who enjoy these shows and are not "voluntold" to attend, then add up the costs for the performances, charge ticket fees and let the people decide with their money how valuable the shows are. Of course, charging ticket prices would be ludicrous and bring an end to the program.

However, let’s not kid ourselves by ignoring the very real cost of these recruiting/morale programs when our nation is facing a staggering debt that will require sacrifice from future generations to repay.

Master Sgt. David Smoak
Spesbach, Germany

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