Let them suck Sikorskys, let them eat pork
by Tom H. Hastings
The temperature in my historically cool and temperate city, Portland OR, is projected to be a historic 114 degrees today. Can we agree with pretty much the entire rational universe that a radical reduction in fossil fuel consumption is a paramount priority? Like, now?
Sadly, the rational universe does not include Republican elected officials.
They are outraged that Biden is tying a bipartisan infrastructure bill that only does standard roads and bridges to a larger bill that will include several aspects of the fossil fuel consumption reduction essential to the survival of the economy and ecology. They claim to be fiscally prudent.
Yeah, no. They never met a weapons system they didn’t like, and that fiscal outlay dwarfs the infrastructure outlays because the Pentagon gets more every year than the one-time infrastructure bill.
Look at just one blip in that ocean of your money grabbed by the Dept of Defense, here just one of the many contracts announced every day, this one from yesterday, June 25:
Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., a Lockheed Martin Co., Stratford, Connecticut, is awarded a $735,903,127 modification (P00004) to previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract N00019-20-C-0047. This modification increases the scope for nine Lot Five low rate initial production CH-53K heavy-lift aircraft and associated aircraft, programmatic and logistical support. Work will be performed in Stratford, Connecticut (36.71%); Wichita, Kansas (9.86%); Salt Lake City, Utah (6.19%); St. Louis, Missouri (4.30%); Bridgeport, West Virginia (3.19%); Redmond, Washington (1.91%); Quebec, Canada (1.66%); Kent, Washington (1.63%); Rochester, United Kingdom (1.59%); Cudahy, Wisconsin (1.39%); Fort Walton Beach, Florida (1.19%); Jupiter, Florida (1.01%); various locations within the continental U.S. (CONUS) (27.37%); and various locations outside CONUS (2%), and is expected to be completed in December 2024.
You see how they carefully tell you where portions of the work will be done, which of course translates into pork in the barrels of politicians representing those areas. Other weapons systems award to other congressional districts like the perfect bribery system. As Reagan’s ultimately disillusioned head of his Office of Management and Budget David Stockman wrote about this way back then, “The hogs are really feeding now.”
This three-quarters of a $billion to Lockheed Martin is just an add-on to a much larger contract. So much for “firm-fixed-price.” So much for the climate. You drive a vehicle that gets a certain number of miles per gallon, mpg. That is reversed for military vehicles, to gallons per mile, gpm. Sikorsky “King Stallion” helicopters burn up nearly six gallons of fuel to go one nautical mile.
Thanks, Congress. Thanks, Senators. With temperatures like 114 in Portland and 120 degrees in Los Angeles, why change anything? The climate chaos freight train is accelerating even as the track is about to warp and twist from the heat. Your grandchildren are already cursing you, Congressmembers, why try to fix anything now?
Dr. Tom H. Hastings is Coördinator of Conflict Resolution BA/BS degree programs and certificates at Portland State University, PeaceVoice Senior Editor, and on occasion an expert witness for the defense of civil resisters in court.