Killer Jobs Programs

The economy is heading south and people are being laid off. Congress-critters and governors, and politicians in general, are being asked to come up with “shovel-ready” projects that will put people to work. But what about people that can’t or won’t shovel?
The Pentagon has some jobs programs too. Some of them involve getting into uniform, and enlistments are up. Others involve working for military contractors like KBR. We covered them in the piece about finding newly-unemployed George Bush a job.
There are other Pentagon jobs programs that go right into every congressional district. They include military bases and military procurement. They say all politics is local, and in this time for intensive economic recovery planning congress-critters are interested in military procurement now more than ever.
Remember the peace dividend? Forget it. War pays better dividends, and you need to buy a lot of stuff to fight a war. So if the country is at war, and it is at war thanks to some people who profit from it, and if you need even more stuff to fight wars yet uninitiated, then military procurement has to be high on the jobs program list in every US congressional district.
Call them the killer jobs programs.

In these programs there are a couple of shining stars, the F-22 Raptor fighter plane and the Virginia-class submarines. Both of them provide case-book studies on how the Pentagon rules congress and thus the country.
The Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22 Raptor is a fighter aircraft that uses stealth technology. It is primarily an air superiority fighter, but has multiple capabilities that include ground attack, electronic warfare, and signals intelligence roles. The primary user is the US Air Force and 127 have been built. The F-22 program cost is $65 billion and the unit cost is, depending upon production rate and cost amortization, varies from $141m to $171m. The F-22 is a fifth generation fighter which can carry bombs, cannon and missiles while flying at Mach 2.25.
The F-22 was approved initially to give the Air Force a next-generation stealthy aircraft to evade ever improving enemy air defenses. But a funny thing happened: Our enemies’ air defenses stopped improving.
So, today, even a casual examination of recent air combat involving the United States (the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq) proves that the existing fleet of about 700 F-15s and upwards of 1500 F-16s remain, undeniably, unbeatable, and will remain so well into the future. At nearly $200 million per plane (versus about $25 million for the F-16), the F-22 would be by far the most expensive fighter plane ever built.
And the F-22s that have been built need some work.

    WASHINGTON, Nov 20 (Reuters) – The U.S. Air Force fleet of F-22 Raptors, designed to be the world’s top fighter jet, needs more than $8 billion dollars of upgrades to be made “capable and affordable to operate,” the Pentagon’s top arms buyer said on Thursday.

There’s no need for additional aircraft and they cost a bundle — might the program be cut by the new administration?
Boeing and Lockheed Martin are pouring money into a publicity campaign to maintain funding for the F-22 Raptor, worried the fighter-plane program may be on the chopping block of the Obama administration.
According to John M. Donnelly, when lobbyists for Lockheed Martin Corp. visited congressional offices in recent weeks to brief members or staff on the merits of their F-22 fighter, the top item on their agenda had nothing to do with the plane’s military attributes.

    For the first time, “Economy/Jobs” topped the list of F-22 benefits. “F-22 Economic Impact is Significant,” said one briefing slide in the “F-22 Advocacy Briefing.” It cited the 95,000 jobs created by the program in 44 states and its more than $12 billion annual impact on the economy. Superimposed on that data was a faux newspaper clipping about the 159,000 jobs the U.S. economy had lost in September. The plane’s military benefits were now a secondary part of the case and jobs the primary focus — instead of the other way around.

This campaign has been joined by many in congress, not because there is any need for the plane, but because of the jobs (and profits) involved.
In “The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives” Nick Turse describes the diverse F-22 manufacturing base.

    In addition to its Marietta Georgia plant, Lockheed produces the F-22 Raptor at facilities in Palmdale, CA; Meridian, MS; Fort Worth, TX; and even at a Boeing plant in Seattle, WA. For added insurance, Lockheed parcels out production of the parts and subsystems in truly national fashion. In all, Lockheed boasts that one thousand suppliers in forty-two states play a role in equipping the F-22.

Global Security states an even more far-reaching contractual network.

    # Approximately 240 firms in 37 states are considered major subcontractors
    # More than 1,150 firms in 46 states and Puerto Rico, along with firms in seven international countries make up the F-22/F119 subcontractor team.

The dispersal of the F-22 manufacturing and the publicity campaign have paid off. The manufacturers’ campaign has been joined by many in congress, not because there is any need for the plane, but because of the jobs involved. Congress has stood tall for the F-22 killer jobs program.
In the House:

    About 200 members of Congress have signed a letter urging President-elect Barack Obama to continue building F-22 stealth fighters.

And in the Senate:

    Senators are pressing President-elect Obama to allow the Air Force to continue buying F-22 Raptor fighter jets.
    Deciding whether to buy more F-22s after the final aircraft on order is delivered at the end of 2011 is one of the first strategic and business decisions Obama’s Pentagon leaders will have to make after Inauguration.
    A group of 44 senators — 25 Democrats and 19 Republicans — sent Obama a letter with the request. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), a defense authorizer who represents a state where Lockheed Martin builds the fighter plane, and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), a defense appropriator whose state is home to Boeing’s operations, headlined the letter. Boeing is a subcontractor for the F-22.
    “Continued F-22 production is critical to both the national security and economic interests of our country,” Murray said in a statement.

“critical to . . .the . . . economic interests of our country” — hmmm.
Moving over to the Navy we see a similar situation with submarines, specifically the $2b per copy Virginia-class submarines with sections that are built in two different places, again to spread the jobs and double the congressional support. The Newport News Virginia facility builds the stern, habitability & machinery spaces, torpedo room, sail and bow, while Electric Boat in Connecticut builds the engine room and control room.
The central submarine sections are built in Joe Courtney‘s district in Connecticut, and Joe was successful in doubling submarine production from one to two.

    Washington, Nov 13, 2007 – Congressman Joe Courtney announced that the White House has signed H.R. 3222, the Fiscal Year 2008 Department of Defense Appropriations Bill, into law today, which includes funding to begin ramping up Virginia-class submarine production to two submarines per year. Congressman Courtney released the following statement:
    “This is a great day for southeastern Connecticut and an important victory for our nation’s defense infrastructure. This victory seemed elusive a year ago and just a dream for many years, but I am pleased to be able to announce that this part of the fight is now over. We have set a new expedited pace in delivering the most advanced ship to our nation’s naval fleet, which will secure our defense jobs in Connecticut.”

Courtney was recognized for his efforts by the local newspaper, the Hartford Courant.

    Joseph Courtney, 55 and a Democrat from Vernon, should be returned for a second term to the House. The sprawling district has many needs, and Mr. Courtney has been responsive to the major ones. He has gotten more shipbuilding work at Electric Boat in Groton. . .

Unfortunately for Joe, because the Pentagon doesn’t want nor need these submarines, Courtney’s plans weren’t realized.

    . . .the newest class of attack submarines, the Virginia program built in Connecticut, was scheduled to be produced at a modest two-sub-a-year clip starting in 2002 at a cost of $2.5 billion per submarine. That schedule has been pushed back over and over again to 2012, by the Pentagon and the last few Congresses. . .

But Joe didn’t give up — his district needs jobs.

    WASHINGTON, Dec 29 2008 – Some members of Congress are seeking President-elect Barack Obama’s support for producing eight more Virginia class submarines.
    Connecticut Rep. Joe Courtney organized a joint letter with more than two dozen House members urging Obama to back doubling production to two new ships per year beginning in 2011, one year ahead of the Navy’s previous schedule. The letter is to be sent Tuesday.
    “As you evaluate current acquisition programs and make the tough decisions ahead, we encourage your strong support for the Virginia-class submarine program — a platform of critical importance to our nation’s current and long-term defense,” the lawmakers wrote.

Joe’s efforts paid off as a result of his joint letter.

    As expected, the Navy announced on Monday a $14 billion contract to buy eight new Virginia-class submarines.
    In making the announcement, Rear Adm. William Hilarides, program executive officer for submarines, told a group of reporters at the Pentagon that more than 12,000 companies of all sizes located in 48 states take part in building the Virginia-class subs.
    “This contract will provide good jobs not just in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Virginia, but in thousands of communities across the country as our vendors gear up for increased production on the Virginia class,” Electric Boat president John Casey said in a statement.

So these are just two examples of killer jobs programs for the production of un-needed military hardware being promoted by industry and congress.
The question arises: Is military spending actually good for the economy?
The simple answer: No.

    Report Shows Increased U.S. Military Spending Slows Economy
    May 1, 2007
    Washington, DC: The Center for Economic and Policy Research released a report today estimating the economic impact of increased U.S. military spending comparable to the spending on the Iraq war. The report, presenting the results of a simulation from the economic forecasting company Global Insight, shows the increased level of military spending leads to fewer jobs and slower economic growth.

Just think of the contribution the workers on these military machines could make if their efforts were redirected to something useful to Americans.
What do you think?
news report, Jan 23 2009:
Lawmakers may insert earmarks to buy new military equipment into a massive economic stimulus plan being pushed by the Obama White House, said Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the Senate minority leader.
“There has been talk of a military equipment portion of the economic stimulus bill,” McConnell said during a Jan. 23 appearance at the National Press Club in Washington.

5 thoughts on “Killer Jobs Programs”

  1. Let’s be..courtesous but truthful for a change, and chat about national military requirements and modern air combat. Your post is so error laden and anti-USAF that you should be ashamed. I flew the F-15 & F-16. They are now at parity with the Su-27/30/35 and MiG-29/31, or at a slight disadvantage. Their SA-20/SA-21 SAMs (Air Defense) are new, modern and completely lethal to ALL of our 4th Gen F-15/16/18 fighters. We must buy adequate quantities of both F-22 and F-35 to replace our old jets.
    This isn’t about JOBS, its about A STRONG NATIONAL DEFENSE and preserving American Air Dominance for the next 30 years. That’s something that FAR too many soldiers, sailors and marines have taken for granted for 30+ years. We cannot afford to go back to the day when we traded fighter losses with the bad guys one-for-one, such as in the opening days of WW2, Korea and VietNam. We broke with that tradition of killing our airmen for 30 years with the F-15/16/18 fighters, BUT now its time to buy the new stuff. Stuff we’ve already paid dearly to develop and that the bad guys won’t touch for another 20-30 years. Every soldier, airman, marine and sailor deserves the very best. War is not a racket–it’s a disaster if you allow it to occur without the best efforts at diplomacy and deterrence–and if war does happen, you kill them as quickly, efficiently and humanely as is humanly possible. The F-22 does just that.

  2. MW,
    Thanks for your response. Any blog can get boring when we all sing the same tune, so your refrain is appreciated. I’m serious.
    We could go on all day and half the night about the vulnerability of various aircraft but some constants never change: (1) anything in the air with an IR signature is vulnerable, (2) throughout history the advantage of every weapons system has been temporary until it was matched by a countermeasure and (3) missiles are cheap.
    The old glory days of the air force are over. They make an interesting history, but we are now in fourth generation warfare in a complete different environment. The first test was in Vietnam. Sure the air force killed lots of people on the ground but the US lost the war. Similar situation now in Afghanistan, where sorties have risen by an order of magnitude and so has the opposition of the Afghans to the US over-use of force. Iraq? Still “fragile” after five years and hundreds of thousands killed (which is why it’s fragile). Afghanistan has shown one thing: The future of the air force is in unmanned aircraft.
    International polls have shown a widespread dislike of the US due to its aggression in foreign countries. This is especially true in Muslim countries because some Muslim countries have suffered particularly as a result of wanton destruction, much of it from the air.
    Actually, much of Pentagon procurement IS about jobs, and the evidence in the article I wrote is proof of that.
    Recent experience has shown that war isn’t something “you allow it to occur”, it is something that the US initiates, and a principal factor in beginning wars is the belief that the US has an advanced military capable of accomplishing anything in a short time for power and profit. (War is a racket.) The results have not borne out this mis-belief, have they. So those who advocate that “you kill them as quickly, efficiently and humanely as is humanly possible” should do some deep thinking about where this elective killing of non-Americans has lead us, in terms of human, financial and moral losses.
    The United States is not currently threatened by any military force. As much as the warmongers want to create enemies, particularly high-tech enemies, perhaps the Russians or the Chinese, they haven’t succeeded yet. Let’s hope they don’t.
    Finally, you will get you F-22s, don’t worry. The Chinese will lend the US the money, or the mint will just print more, as the US spirals downward in bankruptcy as a result of its profligate, wasteful military spending on fleets of two hundred million dollar airplanes.

  3. DB–
    You have a severe case of “this war-itis.” Perhaps you and our dear SecDef should take some time to read our nation’s military history. We the good ole USA have rarely, if ever, been able to predict at what point on the spectrum of conflict the next war will occur. Recent examples: 1941, 1950, 1964, 1990, etc.. You are stuck in the Low Intensity end of thought much like the Marine officers of the 1920’s who experienced the Philipine Insurrection. More errors in your argument: It’s the UAVs dropping bombs in far away places that are pissing the terrorists off, not our fighters. UAVs and UCAVs in a modern anti-access, air/SAM/net-defended air war are nothing but very expensive targets. Read up on the Predator kill by MiG-25 in early OIF.
    Here’s a better idea–you stick to talking about Army stuff and leave the air war fighting to the experts in the USAF?

  4. MW,
    Philippine Insurrection? That’s a misnomer. Actually, the US wanted to take over the mantel of colonial master after the US defeated the Spanish. Filipinos had the quaint notion that their country belonged to them, so the US felt obligated to defeat them. As a result the Philippines has never made it as a viable, modern country.
    Vietnam? Similar situation. The US wanted, in this case, to replace the French. Eisenhower knew he couldn’t get the whole country so he installed a puppet in the southern half of it resulting in — as you would say — the Vietnam Insurrection. The US lost that one outright, so communist Vietnam is doing pretty well. Two US presidents have visited, and Bush43 in his visit promised to improve relations even more.
    And now Iraq and Afghanistan, where the US is not replacing colonizers, it just wants control because of energy, strategic and profit considerations. War is a racket. As a result Iraq is now aligned with its former (and US) enemy Iran, and Afghanistan is living up to its history as a deadly trap for foreign invaders. What the heck, these wars were extremely profitable to the well-connected.
    Now the US has a new way to kill people, many of them women and children, which the air force has excelled at for years. Unfortunately the UAV strikes are multiplying the resistance to US aggression and increasing the security threat to the US. But that fits in with the plan to buy more military stuff and sustain employment in the only real industry that the US now excels at.
    Face it, the air force, except for airlift (which civilian aircraft could do), is obsolete. There is no more need for big bombers to carpet bomb swaths of foreign real estate and no requirement for those exciting dog-fights in the sky. Pilots are now stuck in cubicles at Nellis directing the killing of women and children in northern Pakistan and they don’t even get combat or flight pay. That must be ‘exciting.’ But I’ll leave that ‘air war’ to you.

  5. Bacon Boy-
    You call yourself an Army officer? Bull! You have quickly proven this discussion to be worthless, as your AF-hating, anti-defense, US-is-the-imperialist views have come out loud and clear. Talk to the soldiers and marines on the front lines today–they get in trouble killing bad-guys insurgents and they call in air strikes, from USAF (80%), USMC (7%), or USN(13%) aircraft. Real soldiers value air cover/air superiority far more than you–and they are all that counts. I am not sure where the “AF killing women and babies” lies and hate-filled spew come from but you have got to get a life. But then I would bet you never saw combat.

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