Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ending F-22, opportunity to turn swords into ploughshares

U.S. Senate Votes to End Production of F-22 Fighter


"The U.S. Senate voted to end production of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-22 fighter jets at the 187 now on order after President Barack Obama threatened to veto any measure containing money to build more. "

I think this is a good thing. There are so many military-industrial complex weapons' systems that need to be eliminated. I always liked the poster "It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the air force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber. "

But behind the cutting of unnecessary military weapons programs are tens of thousands of workers who will lose their jobs.

In the Bloomberg article it reads, "Three labor unions -- the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the United Steel Workers and the AFL-CIO -- pressed senators to extend production.

"The plane supports 25,000 direct jobs and 70,000 indirect jobs in 40 states, the unions said in letters to senators. 'Ending the F-22 will result in immediate layoffs,' R. Thomas Buffenbarger, president of the Machinists union, said in a July 9 letter."

What will happen to these workers? It seems they will join the lines of the millions of other unemployed -- especially from the manufacturing sector.

This cannot happen. It's bad for the economy and bad for our country. Not in the traditional "national security" sense, but anytime a whole sector loses jobs it is an injury to all workers. Look at the auto industry.

This is an opportunity to turn these sword into ploughshares. But the private sector, I believe, will not be the job-creation motor that is necessary. The maximum profit-motive isn't there. Investment will flow to where you can get a 30 percent return not a mere 5 or 10 percent return -- that's a basic to capitalism.

So who will invest in jobs and a new, green manufacturing base of this country? One that can help rebuild the infrastructure? This is where another "public option" is needed.

John Bachtell wrote in Time to build a new mass movement for a peace economy http://www.pww.org/article/articleview/14104/

that Military spending supports roughly 5 million jobs. Therefore well-planned conversion to non-military-related jobs will need to take place in areas that depend on military spending, as the fight on domestic base closings showed.

A 2007 study by Robert Pollin and Heidi Garrett-Peltier at the University of Massachusetts showed more jobs are created with $1 billion spent on health care , education, mass transit , construction and even tax cuts compared to the same $1 billion spent on the military.

To build such a movement, demanding jobs where the skills and talent of machinists, engineers, steelworkers, autoworkers can help build our communities is a first and necessary step.

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