Maybe they should change it’s name to the F-22 Rasputin, because just like the infamous Russian weirdo who was poisoned, shot and clubbed before he finally met his demise in an icy river, this thing refuses to die. To make a long story short, President Obama said that he wouldn’t support spending $350 million a piece on these fighter jets, not only because they’re insanely expensive, but because they’re obsolete. We’ve spent $65 billion on F-22 Raptors since the early 90s and they’ve never even fired a single shot in battle.
However, the parts for the F-22s are manufactured in 44 different states and supporters say that cutting production would cost 25,000 high-wage manufacturing jobs, so everyone from the United Steelworkers to hawkish Republican legislators have fought to keep this uber-gravy train a rollin’. The latest twist came when the Senate Armed Services Committee ignored Obama’s veto threat and approved a request by Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) to slip $1.75 billion in the defense budget to purchase seven more of these flying money vacuums. Remember that Chambliss is draft-dodger who got elected to the Senate by attacking an opponent who lost three limbs in Vietnam for being too soft on national defense, so clearly this guy is, like, the Michael Jordan of weasels.
Back to the point, the fact that the F-22 refuses to die despite the staggering stupidity of spending another $1.75 billion on planes that will probably never even kill anything perfectly illustrates the power and ingenuity of the military-industrial complex. The manufacturer of the F-22 is Lockheed Martin, which like other mega-corporations at the core of the defense industry, is really, really good at protecting its interests. Eugene Jarecki did a great job of breaking this down in his 2005 documentary, Why We Fight (which you can view here), but the gist is that these companies have entangled themselves so thoroughly within the fabric of America that any time you try to cut any part of their revenues, you are hurting American workers by killing off some of the last high-wage, high-skill factory jobs out there. So that’s why you see supposedly “anti-war” legislators defending bloated military budgets, because they’re covering their own asses by protecting jobs in their districts.
Of course, it would make a lot more sense to use these billions of wasted dollars on transitioning workers from manufacturing silly death machines to something that might be a little more useful like wind mills, solar panels or high-speed trains (which we are planning to import from Europe). But that’s why companies like Lockheed have armies of lobbyists and never turn away a politician looking for a contribution during “campaign season” (which is actually all year long).
Alas, when will they learn that we don’t need fancier weapons—just more soldiers with awesome names like this young warrior. Although, I must admit, even I’m pissed at Obama for scrapping plans to develop this giant dragon-shaped tank…