In linguist George Lakoff's 'Don't Think of an Elephant' he talks about and describes how one can change the direction of a debate or argument, not by adjusting the topic or points one is trying to make, but by reframing the debate itself to change the way people look at it. This affectively remolds their opinion and viewpoint without any changes having to be made to the policy, rules or topic of debate.
This is what seems to be going on here with PreserveRaptorJobs.com, a site and online petition dedicated to preserving manufacture of the $340 million stealth jet as a form of economic stimulus and an effort to keep people employed.
Military spending is a large topic of debate these days and those on both sides have their case for how much and where those dollars should go. However, I find this very interesting because it flips that debate on its end. No mention is made of whether the U.S. needs to or will need more of these jets in the future. Instead, it's framed as a way to keep people employed, period.
Now I'm all for jobs and the recovery of the economy but, would it benefit us in the long run to manufacture something that we no longer need? I'm not saying we don't need these jets now, but the hope for the future would be that the U.S. needs less weapons because the world becomes a better place (idealistic I know but bear with me here).
Does this create a slippery slope toward funding obsolete programs merely because it keeps people employed? Will I ever get to a point here?
Not sure, but it's something to think about.
Hat tip: Wired: Danger Room
As a guy who's flown Air Superiority mission I have to say the ONLY answer to extending the last 50 years of American air dominance in any future conflict is the F-22. The AF has repeatedly stated they desperately need them--until the DepSecDef issued an unconstitutional gag order on AF leaders. 30+ campaign studies said we need more than 240. DepSecDef commissioned the mother of all studies to end the argument and they came back and said 260! As for Wired.com's Noah Shachtman decrying the sinister forces of the 25,000 F-22 workers trying to inform Congress and the President of their plight, I suggest you read the Bill of Rights, as in "the rights of the people..to petition their govenrment." 60-200 more F-22s are required by our AF to comply with the National Military Strategy and THAT is EXACTLY the best use of taxpayer $$ as an immediate stimulus to keep 95,000 direct/indirect jobs making this hi-tech jet rather than let them fill the unemployment rolls in 2009-11.
Whatever the effectiveness or efficiency of this program, the issue is sunken costs. Because so much dough has been dropped, no one wants to walk away from it.
Follow up to the point of sunken costs. The original post listed the cost of the Raptor at $340 million, which is the the price tag with research and development costs already factored in. The flyaway cost for each new aircraft is closer to $170 million. So the original post is accidentally misleading.
One further point. As the Raptor replaces aging 4th gen fighters like the Eagle and Falcon, the maintenance costs on the older birds will be eliminated, and as fewer Raptor's will be needed in place of them, overall operating costs will be cheaper. More money saved.
And it's foolish to give up our edge in air superiority, which we won't always have. Not all wars in the future will be in Iraq or Afghanistan.