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America’s Biggest Jobs Program — the U.S. Military

Robert Reich lays out some figures for the military jobs programs both in manpower and hardware:

America’s biggest — and only major — jobs program is the U.S. military.

Over 1,400,000 Americans are now on active duty; another 833,000 are in the reserves, many full time. Another 1,600,000 Americans work in companies that supply the military with everything from weapons to utensils. (I’m not even including all the foreign contractors employing non-US citizens.)

If we didn’t have this giant military jobs program, the U.S. unemployment rate would be over 11.5 percent today instead of 9.5 percent.

And without our military jobs program personal incomes would be dropping faster. The Commerce Department reported Monday the only major metro areas where both net earnings and personal incomes rose last year were San Antonio, Texas, Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. — because all three have high concentrations of military and federal jobs.

This isn’t an argument for more military spending. Just the opposite. Having a giant undercover military jobs program is an insane way to keep Americans employed. It creates jobs we don’t need but we keep anyway because there’s no honest alternative. We don’t have an overt jobs program based on what’s really needed.

The Pentagon’s budget — and its giant undercover jobs program — keeps expanding. The President has asked Congress to hike total defense spending next year 2.2 percent, to $708 billion. That’s 6.1 percent higher than peak defense spending during the Bush administration.

This sum doesn’t even include Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, nuclear weapons management, and intelligence. Add these, and next year’s national security budget totals about $950 billion.

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No, Again, To F-35 Alt-Engine

by reader Ilsm

“No, Again, To F-35 Alt-Engine: Schwartz”, John Reed, August 4, 2010

The U.S. Air Force’s top general reaffirmed his opposition to the GE-Rolls Royce’s alternative engine for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter this week, saying that spending billions on the backup engine does not make sense in today’s fiscal environment.

“I don’t favor” the F136 engine, said Schwartz after an Aug. 4 meeting with the editorial staff of Defense News and Air Force Times. “I don’t debate the larger strategic question about the value of competition. This is a question of: if we’ve got a trillion-dollar deficit, if we’re not going to say no to that, what do we say no to?”

Ilsm here:
The general should have said, “the P&W engine is reliable, the needed production rate can be achieved and we have test data to support those conclusions”, there is no proof the P&W engine is producible and reliable, so the general relies on the DoD’s “concern” for the deficit.

The F-35 has one engine; if the single engine flames out and cannot be restarted the airplane becomes a lawn dart. The P&W engine installed in the F-16 in the late 1970’s was not reliable, even though it was an adaptation of the engine already flying on the F-15. When the USAF, who had not insisted the engine be reliable during acquisition, required that P&W fix the reliability the answer was “send more money” there is no warranty and no remedy when faulty designs are accepted. As a result the USAF restarted the GE engine development and deployed it enduring the lost aircraft utilization and crashes that occurred because the P&W engine was not well tested in the F-16 program.

The F-35 has quality issues, and cannot meet highly scripted test events because things break all the time. Say no to weapons which cannot be maintained because there is no money or time to design them properly. If followed to its logical conclusion: there is no room in the trillions in deficits for the F-35 which has not met test schedule much less passed anything.

General Schwatz should support high quality, and address why spending hundreds of billions to deliver up to 2000 F-35’s the DoD cannot get a quality engine.
Besides insuring against poor technical outcomes, there are enough engines for the F-35’s large numbers and long anticipated life to justify alternative engines with the better performing engine installed on a higher percent of the deployed aircraft. This is what happened with the F-16, after years of lost performance.
If DOD cannot afford to acquire reliable propulsion sources they can afford the airplane and should kill the F-35.

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Misinterpreting History to Sell Eternal Mobilization.

by reader Ilsm

Misinterpreting History to Sell Eternal Mobilization
Washington Post, July 30, 2010, Pg. 19
A Defense Budget Lesson We Never Learn, Max Boot
Max Boot, Jeanne J. Kirkpatrick seat at Council on Foreign Relations, describes a litany of tragedies rooted in alleged demobilizations including post American Revolution and the War Between the States. Each example is a false conclusion designed to justify the US borrowing trillions to avoid such daunting fantasies.
I am a student of Korean conflict and the geo politics of the era. Boot ignores Douglas Mac Arthur warning that a land war on the Asian land mass is suicide, and that Mac Arthur demanded nuclear weapons to avoid such a bankrupting situation. At the time the US was not demobilized, it was planning for war in Europe against the Red Army’s WW II formations. That strategy sadly is being continued today. The father of the Task Force Smith retreat was Stalin hitting at the weakness. A few more percent of GDP to defend everywhere in the late 1940’s would have lost the Cold War to the Soviets.

The other error is Vietnam. Vietnam was lost for two reasons. The US fought in the wrong way, sending the WW II forces into a guerilla war which Mac Arthur had seen and warned against. And it was fought with allies who were as alien to the Vietnamese people as the US. A few more percent of GDP to mobilize to win in Vietnam and everywhere else would have bankrupted the US and the Soviets would have won in 1968.

Bringing in the Reconstruction “failures” after 1866 presents Mr. Boot contempt of the US constitution implying US military force should have occupied Georgia to make it better somehow. Should have been as successful as Afghanistan today.
Mr. Boot would not be happy until the war machine has bankrupted the US. He should consider the aim of national strategy, Santayana’s second famous quote: “Fanaticism consists in redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim.” What good is it to avoid another Task Force Smith if the country is bankrupt?“

As a balance to Boot read Andrew Bacevich:

Israel and the US are the only nations who continue to rely on the irrelevant tactic of eternal mobilization.

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Bleg: James Tobin and Paying for the Viet Nam War

In Conversations with Economists (h/t Kevin Quinn at Econospeak), James Tobin refers to LBJ having made “a mistake” in “raising taxes to pay for the Viet Nam War.”

Google Desktop can’t find the line of reasoning behind that in any of Tobin’s papers that have survived my migrating possibly-non-OCR PDFs over about six computers. Anyone able to point me to Tobin’s preferred alternative?*

UPDATE: The full quote:

Klamer: We experience stagflation….How would you account for this experience within a neo-Keynesian neoclassical framework?

Tobin: That gets us into the history of the economic world in the US since 1966. Probably there were some mistakes in demand management policy. I wouldn’t deny that. In fact, it was a council of neo-Keynesian advisors that told Johnson he should raise taxes for the Vietnam War.

Is this just a reference to the mismanagement pgl has discussed here and at Econospeak so often? And is there evidence that the advisors were arguing that the war was the reason to raise taxes?

*That’s “given that the War was in progress anyway”; not funding and not fighting was not an option, no matter how preferable it might have been without the presence of Dr. Manhattan and his “glowing blue schlong.”

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A new shopper at the Pentagon

by divorced one like Bush

Via Multi Medium comes a link to for an article regarding another Obama appointment.

President Obama late this afternoon nominated Harvard professor Ashton B. Carter, a leading authority on arms control, to take on a surprising new role, according to top administration officials — as the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer.

Instead, from his perch at Harvard’s Kennedy School, Carter has been criticizing the Pentagon for buying too many armaments it doesn’t need, decrying what he calls a lack of discipline and “failure to take account of cost growth in weapons systems and defense services.”

Of course the battle lines are being drawn.

There is a brief on Professor Carter’s qualifications. He has worked to clean up the nuclear proliferation, establishing relations with old Russian countries and involving Russia in the Bosnia Peace Plan, not to mention experience with the issue of terrorism.

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Reality going to the Dogs

This one is for those concerned about how we spend our tax dollars. It is a robotics project funded by the pentagon performed by Boston Dynamics called the BigDog.

I’m not going to comment because I can think of many positives as in the moon shot program and transitors and I can think of many negatives, as in militarizing space. What do you think?


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