One of the ads in Gmail pleaded with me to “Preserve F-22 Raptor jobs now!” Curious, I followed the link, and after a few minutes I used the site’s tools to send the following letter to the White House.
Dear President Obama,
During the campaign for president, your opponents often attacked you as a “socialist.” I note that now that you are in office, you are being given a prime opportunity to prove them wrong. I don't expect them to get the point, though, because government spending on the military is somehow never “socialist.”
I’m referring to the F-22 Raptor program. You are probably receiving mass mailings right now urging you to release “advance procurement funding” for this “Fifth Generation fighter,” thereby magically protecting American jobs and security.
I urge you not to be stampeded into approving the F-22. The U.S. already has air superiority over the entire world, and ramping up military production is one of the least promising tools you have for stimulating the economy.
I find the arguments advanced at the website preserveraptorjobs.com to be unconvincing, and the claims of economic impact for the program appear skewed. Moreover, I am concerned that the site may be an astoturf operation that advances the narrow interests of aerospace executives. Please view these pleas for Raptor money critically.
It appears that the email was sent.
I might have added that even Defense Secretary Robert Gates is opposed to the Raptor program, which has been soaking up federal cash for Boeing and other contractors since 1991. As for strategy, it’s a fact that the U.S. fleet of F-15s and F-16s is more than adequate for confronting any potential adversary, even those to whom we have sold F-15s and F-16s. In the Mideast, we’ve seen that the F-16 is more than adequate for blowing up buildings full of “insurgents” and their children.
As for economic impact, the website appears to count every job that is theoretically touched by Raptor money — such as the cashier at the convenience store where the waiter buys gas who works at the lunch counter where a dozen Boeing employees often eat — as if every one of those jobs will be imperiled by the Raptor program’s cancellation.
One might argue that spending money on the Raptor will stimulate the economy just like all the other items in the stimulus package. But in fact, Pentagon procurements for military hardware really function as a massive socialist economy in the middle of a relatively open capitalist market. The federal government (with other governments it approves of) is the only lawful consumer of these goods. In other words, spending on military hardware supports a workforce, but produces nothing for the marketplace, and must be funded by tax revenue.
After leaving my contact info at preserveraptorjobs.com, I can’t wait to see what other appeals I am asked to send. I noticed that the site contained no information identifying its creators or their goals, so I suspect it was put up by a Washington PR firm. Their next campaign will no doubt be on behalf of whoever pays. Perhaps a defense of executive pay? Help for our good friends the Saudis? Or a reprise of “drill, baby, drill”?
I can hardly wait.