Actually There Is One Problem That's Solved by Starting Wars

Walter Kloefkorn tells me a story from 24 years ago: 
 
Near the end of my Silicon Valley career in manufacturing I was Materials Director for Biomation Corp, which made logic analyzers. (We may still have been a subsidiary of Gould Inc – some other subsidiary of which was the originator of the infamously expensive coffee pots, hammers, and toilet seats, I don’t recall.) We got a contract with the military, somewhat to our amazement because we could figure no good reason for them to buy 100 of our $30,000 logic analyzers. They were mostly used to design integrated circuits, not something the military did. They could be used to repair electronic equipment, but it would have been a lot cheaper and easier for their techs to just use digital oscilloscopes. Our honest assessment was that we’d just sold some to the FAA (we couldn’t figure out what they were going to do with them either), and the Air Force wanted to have some too.  

“In any event, I had to get involved with the shipment as I was the only person who had any experience with the military’s arcane procedures for packaging and shipment. We were approaching the first shipment date, so I called the supply sergeant, who I had carefully cultivated with lunches and beers so there wouldn’t be any problems on that end. We’d had a problem, however, with a mandatory engineering change making the cost of getting new PCBs made and replaced in time to meet the schedule hugely expensive. And then Saddam invaded Kuwait. So I called the sergeant up and asked him (without too much desperation in my voice, I hoped) whether the outbreak of hostilities would impact our schedule. To my relief he replied that he did want to delay our shipments, that he’d been trying to get a chance to call me, he was insanely busy at the moment. I replied that yes, it must be quite a job to get ready for the invasion and keep our brave troops supplied after. (I was bicycling the 18 miles to work with a sign on the back of my bike that said, “Runs on US beer, not Middle East Oil, No War for Oil.”) He said, ‘Hell, no, that’s not it. We’ve got warehouses full of stuff stored that we don’t need or want. Now that hostilities have broken out, I’ve got to get it all shipped to the war zone so we can declare it destroyed in action and get it off our books.’ I was pretty much speechless, muttered something about I wish he hadn’t told me that.

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