The Tale Behind Whittle

This one is by ILSM, part of his Whittle a Beak series.

During my ill spent youth, many years ago, I served with a seasoned non commissioned officer from somewhere in the rural old south, foothills of the Appalachians. A colorful, experienced and outspoken commenter on the brass.

One day he returned from a visit with the top non com, with some now forgotten detail to do. His only comment in my hearing was: ” I would rather whittle a beak, strap it on and go out in the barn yard and peck @$%& with the chickens.” Saying this while he viewed his line up of smokes.

The job was some make work, look good detail designed by some smooth faced officer wanting to look good and ‘break starch’. It was in this NCO’s veiw a wste of his time and talents.

In short “whittling a beak” is a measure of resources wasted in doing a job which never should be done and takes assets from more pressing needs.

He did do the job and never did “whittle a beak”.

That was long ago. How many times had I whittled a beak would the taxpayer be better off!

The 95 weapons programs recently reviewed by GAO are all beaks that are being whittled at huge cost, resources that in every case should be used elsewhere.

“Whittle a beak” is code for opportunity lost and waste.

This one was by ILSM.