Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Biggest "Patriot" = The Biggest Sucker

Last week I wrote a letter to the Ely Times on how the Air Force intends to turn Steptoe Valley into a supersonic war game area – and set our mountain ranges on fire with their errant dogfight flares. In spite of the obvious ramifications, I was really surprised by the number of online comments for the airspace grab. WTF?... This is far more complex than one of the comments about “kick(ing) some terrorist butt.” (Terrorists don't have jets to get into dogfights.) Actually, this is more about money than it is security. But this is really about freedom. There are people who have convinced us that high taxes for military spending will bring us freedom... that's right, high taxes bring us “freedom.” (That makes about as much sense as gutting the Bill of Rights in the name of “freedom.”)

First, I want to make it very clear that I realize that our country needs military defense. And of course, our military pilots need to train. But haven't they already been doing that for decades?

American fighter pilots are already well prepared. F-15s have a combat record of 101 victories and zero loses in actual air to air combat. The F-16 has a combat record of 71 victories and zero losses in actual air to air combat. We don't need an expert opinion. Our fighter pilots have done an extraordinary job. And part of that is because these days, pilots avoid a dogfights by just launching a missile or two.

Moreover, in the past 20 years, there just haven't been that many aerial conflicts. US fighters shot down 5 Iraqi jets in 1991. And in 1999, 5 enemy jets were shot down over Kosovo. That's it. Which leads us to the question: Why? Why do they want more?

The answer is obvious – because there is REALLY BIG money in it.

The F-22 fighter plane cost over $300 million dollars each! The total program cost for all of the F-22s has been $62 billion! And the CEO for Lockheed Martin (builder of the F-22) received $37 million – just in 2007! (Hey, the CEO of General Dynamics received $60 million!) For 2007, the average CEO compensation among aerospace and defense companies was $20.6 million – 60% more than the average fortune 500 CEO!

With that kind of carrot, is it any wonder that the military/industrial/congressional complex always wants more?

I used to work for a military contractor. I have a sense of how they think. Sure, they want to defend America – but let's face it, they're in it for the money. And they'll tax us into the poorhouse if we let them... actually, they already have.

My point is simple; we can find the money to help people amongst the money that is wasted on what we spend to kill people.

The money to be spent on these additional dogfight exercises is just wasted money that could be better spent on humanitarian needs. If you agree with me, please write to our Senators and Representatives.

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