WPAFB is too big to fail. But, our politicians fail us already

We’ve already seen what happens when institutions that are “too big to fail” do exactly that- fail. Yet, the much vaulted economic tripod of Dayton- Feds, Meds and Eds (none of which pay taxes directly) keeps depending on the war machine centered at WPAFB to continue to support our failed economic policies in Ohio.

The Dayton Daily News reports on the gaining of “363 net jobs” like a giddy school girl talking about a teen heartthrob:

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — An Air Force restructuring designed to cut costs by eliminating thousands of civilian jobs will actually result in a net gain of 363 positions at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as it becomes a bigger center of acquisition, research and development, officials said Wednesday.That underscores the importance of Wright-Patterson as the Air Force strives to trim spending and operate more efficiently in response to Congress’ demands to reduce the federal budget deficit, members of Congress and retired Air Force officials said.

via Over 300 jobs coming to WPAFB after restructuring.

Of course, the fact that the country can ill afford to continue supporting our 10-year war in Afghanistan (which has no air power at all) would make most wonder how we can afford to keep WPAFB staffed and running at similar levels in the future.

Of course, if you look at another article, you find this:

The United States has taken a significant first step toward offering F-35 fighter jet aircraft to India in a sign of its desire to deepen defense cooperation.

via US offers info on top fighter jet to India.

While I have no gripe against India, the only reason we need to sell F35s to them is to help keep our defense contractors fat and happy so they can contribute to the political campaigns of people like Congressman Mike Turner (who still believes nuclear weapons are useful) and who sit on the armed services committee and help oversee deals like this.

For those of you unfamiliar with the base- we have a huge number of people involved in selling weapons systems to foreign nations. Even to countries whom we later go to war with. It’s one of the ways we can keep our costs down and keep escalating the need for new weapons systems. We have to have superior technology to fight the people we arm today tomorrow.

The whole thing makes zero sense, but then you get idiots like the drunk driving State Rep Jarrod Martin from Beavercreek saying the following:

State Rep. Jarrod Martin, R-Beavercreek, told Gongwer News Service, that he would not support the new map unless Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is represented by at least two U.S. House members.

The proposed new map reportedly puts all of Montgomery and Greene counties in the same district, which would mean the base would be represented by one member.

via House to vote today on new redistricting plan.

This line of reasoning is total crap in the first place. When elected, congressmen/women should have a set of priorities that take precedence over petty local BS: Is it good for the planet, good for our country, good for our state and then lastly my district. All 16 of the Representatives from Ohio (down 2 from last census) should be supporting WPAFB as it is the largest employer and economic engine in the state. It shouldn’t matter how many districts touch it, if they do their job right.

Secondly, building an economy based on weapons to destroy things isn’t a great investment strategy long term- unless you are just coddling the people who fund your campaign kitties. We can find much more effective economic engines than WPAFB to hang our hat on.

Last but not least, because of hiring cycles and low job turnover, the base is about to suffer a huge brain drain as post Vietnam hires all retire or take buyouts losing us huge institutional knowledge. What was a mighty fine running machine- is about to head off into retirement in a big way. WPAFB’s value, based on its social capital is going to be taking a huge hit in the near future and it’s something no one is willing to admit.

It’s time to take another listen to Dwight David Eisenhower’s farewell address when he warned of the costs of having a large “military industrial complex” which is now too big to fail.

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2 Responses

  1. J Dziwulski November 5, 2011 / 7:37 pm
    I always though Ikes’ speech was misunderstood by those who quote it or cite it.  The left see’s it as sort of a”Smedly Butler”  plain-speaking attack on militarism,  but I think you are closer to the spirit, because Ikes farewell was more about politicians/military/contractors, AKA the military-industrial complex,  log-rolling to supporting weapon systems for the sake of weapon systems and the profit and economic benefit they bring, not for their military value or how affordable they are.   

    This was one reason McNamara and his whiz kids were hated by the brass.  McNamara was hated by the Left for being Mr Vietnam, but he was disliked by the brass because he tried to force them to justify their wish-lists.  One of the books from his group was entitled “How Much is Enough” (by Alain Enthoven) ,which is always a good question when confronted with things as expensive as the F-22.

    As for Wright-Patterson, what you are seeing is just the beginning.  The base, and what goes on there, is more ‘tail’ than ‘tooth’,  in that it is not directly related to warfighting.  So as the budgets continue to be cut the place will start seeing the effects.  Right now, no you have that “paper” gain, but eventually things will thin out one way or another (as you note there is a bow-wave of retirements on the near horizon).

  2. jstults November 6, 2011 / 3:15 pm
    Another argument against Dayton hanging its hopes on the Organization Men (be they Feds, Eds or Meds):

    New York’s garment industry, the largest industrial cluster in postwar America, was a hive of small companies where anyone could get started with a good idea and a few sewing machines. Pittsburgh, by contrast, was the home of U.S. Steel—practically the definition of corporate America—whose company men were exceedingly unlikely to become entrepreneurs when the steel industry faltered.
    Unleash the Entrepreneurs

    (yes, I linked this in that other thread; it’s a good essay)

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