Patterico's Pontifications


The F-22: Cheaper Jobs Than the Stimulus, and Military Improvement to Boot

Filed under: Crime,General,Obama — Patterico @ 11:51 pm

So we have a stimulus bill that will cost over $800 billion, and will allegedly save up to 4 million jobs. As others have already observed, simple division reveals that this means each job will cost at least $200,000 in government spending. As Swen Swenson put it (in a comment at the link):

Whoo Hoo!! Send me my $200,000 and I’ll go fishing. That’ll free up a job for someone else!

I’m right there with you, Swen. And I don’t even like fishing.

Anyway, this is necessary context for reading the L.A. Times‘s story about Obama’s upcoming decision whether to keep the F-22 alive. As the Orlando Sentinel tells us, Air Force officials say the F-22 “is needed for aerial combat and would be used for potential threats in the future from major powers such as China and Russia.” (The counter-argument, apparently, is “what threat from China and Russia?” Personally, I don’t find that counter-argument compelling, but then, I’ve never looked into the eyes of Vladimir Putin or Hu Jintao. Then again, I’m biased in favor of the F-22 because my brother works at Lockheed in Fort Worth.)

But forget the military necessity! These days, we spend money for jobs! Lots of money. So let’s look at the F-22 from that perspective.

Lockheed claims there are 95,000 U.S. jobs at stake. (I’m willing to bet there are plenty more overseas.) If the going rate is $200,000 per job, then it would presumably be worth $19 billion to save these jobs.

How much would it cost to continue the F-22? That depends on who you ask. The boring number-crunching is done here; suffice it to say that Obama is deciding on March 1 whether to order 20 more planes, at a cost of $523 million according to one paper, or $2.8 billion according to numbers provided by another paper.

Either way, it’s a damn sight cheaper than $19 billion, which is what we would be spending if we spent $200,000 per job, as we’re doing with the stimulus. And the F-22 helps us prepare to deal with threats from Russia or China. That preparedness, in turn, helps prevent such threats from materializing to begin with.

It’s a relative bargain, jobs-wise. Will Obama deem it to be too “Republican” a priority, remind us that he won, and kill the program?

Time will tell. But as I say here, buying another 20 planes might keep almost 100,000 Americans from losing work — and it would strengthen our military capacity. Sounds at least as good as a new overpass in Elkhart, Indiana.

40 Responses to “The F-22: Cheaper Jobs Than the Stimulus, and Military Improvement to Boot”

  1. Lockheed is fibbing when it says 95,000 jobs are at stake. At $30 per labor hour or approximately $60,000 per year in annual salary & benefits:

    $523 million will provide about 8,700 full time jobs for one year or about 4,350 jobs over two years.

    $2.8 billion will provide about 46,700 full time jobs for one year or about 23,350 jobs over two years.

    This assumes that all the procurement dollars go to employee compensation and not materials or overheads like rent, power, paper, etc. Lockheed might be including the “multiplier effect,” but the impact on jobs by ordering 20 additional aircraft still seems well overstated.

    Perfect Sense (0922fa)

  2. The potency of the rest of our military forces, in every mission anywhere in the world, absolutely depends on air superiority. So, for that matter, does our ability to conduct rescues and humanitarian missions.

    The Russians know this. The Chinese know this. Both have long histories of successfully deceiving our intelligence agencies for years before suddenly revealing vastly more capable aircraft than we’ve believed them capable of producing. Not just those two countries, but the other countries to whom they eagerly sell their own capable fighters in large quantities may decide to see whether ten or twenty of their not-quite state-of-the-art aircraft can take down one of ours, figuring that’s a fair trade because we’ll quickly run out.

    If programs like this one are cut back, there will inevitably come a day when other air forces no longer flee the skies rather than face ours. Buying these planes makes compelling sense without regard to whether their purchase does or doesn’t affect unemployment numbers.

    Beldar (45ed7e)

  3. Let me add one screamingly obvious point: Providing for our national defense is a core function of the federal government, whereas the overwhelming majority of the proposed “stimulus” legislation is for projects in which the federal government’s interests are, and should properly be recognized as, remote. But of course, the Obama Administration and the Democratic Party are unlikely ever to ask whether any spending bill is a proper responsibility for the federal government rather than some other level of government (if even that).

    Beldar (45ed7e)

  4. Personally, I think we need the F-22. F-15’s are 37 years old and F-16’s 32 years old. As for how the contract jobs work in general a person paid 60K per year means the company is charging close to 120K for that position. Over the long run it is cheaper than the costs associated with medical and retirement benefits that a person in uniform or civil service would cost.
    If I were Lockheed management I would make some commitment to reduce their cost to 10K per position. That saves Uncle Sugar 950 million dollars, keeps an important program running and really doesn’t affect those 95,000 employees except possibly in smaller raises for a few years.
    Pelosi could probably be persuaded if the savings were associated with a chance to buy an extra 158 million boxes of condoms….

    voiceofreason2 (10af7e)

  5. correction to math above “reduce their cost to 10K per position” should read “reduce their cost by 10K per position”.

    voiceofreason2 (10af7e)

  6. For $200k, I can learn to LOVE me some fishin’!

    EW1(SG) (e27928)

  7. Forget the numbers from this monstrosity. Just wait until the next TARP bill. THis was just a warm-up, prepping the battlefield, if you will.

    JD (c6800b)

  8. Baracky did tell us that it doesn’t really matter what you spend it on, as long as you spend it. That’s what stimulus is!

    Pablo (99243e)

  9. Just wait until the next TARP bill. THis was just a warm-up, prepping the battlefield, if you will.

    Tru dat, JD.

    “I’m not standing here before you today to ask you to authorize more resources,” Geithner told the Senate Banking Committee. “I want to be candid, though, that I think this is going to be an expensive problem for the nation and it’s going to require substantial resources.”

    Shorter Geithner: We’ve only just begun, to spend.

    Pablo (99243e)

  10. %50,000,000,000 to guard against foreclosures. How many homes are in jeopardy of being foreclosed? Wouldn’t it be easier to just buy all of the houses that are about to be foreclosed? I bet it would be cheaper.

    Note that I am assuming that the government intervention in this is the correct thing to do. As I said in another thread, nobody put a gun to anybody’s head and forced them to take out loans that they could not afford at the time, or in the future. But, since Baracky won, and SanFranNan and Harry are controlling the purse strings (HA!), we have to assume that this type of intervention is inevitable.

    JD (c6800b)

  11. Spend spend spend and it will be alright! When are they going to spend money on Patterico’s Pontification and on its commenters? Mmhg? We all need a little stimulating from time to time. I know I do………like now? :)

    Emperor7 (1b037c)

  12. Spend spend spend and it will be alright!

    I am sure, lovie, that you will be able to point us to a time in history where government spending fixed an economy.

    JD (c6800b)

  13. JD, World War II is an example of government spending fixing an economy. The thing is, it was necessary.

    The war on terror is also necessary, and a serious effort would probably employ a similar amount of people, and the peace dividend from that part of the world would be tremendous.

    If Obama had vision instead of a partisan’s heart, he would realize he is uniquely situated in history to change the world. He knows Islam better than most, and knows what it would take to fight it. If America put this kind of money into the War on Terror, we could actually change the lives of so many for the better.

    Joco (4cdfb7)

  14. When are they going to spend money on Patterico’s Pontification and on its commenters?

    Obama did promise more stimulus checks. But don’t sit waiting for the mailman. It ain’t coming.

    Pablo (99243e)

  15. JD, World War II is an example of government spending fixing an economy

    Not to nitpick you here, Joco – but it was a primarily a necessary and finite expenditure during the war years, not gov’t larded programs that were destined to still be with us over half a century later. This is an important distinction that’s missing from the current debate – what programs are designed to be finite and short – term in length and scope, and which are just more pork for infinity? I have no problem with short – term programs that honestly deal with serious infrastructure needs: rural DSL capability, roads, bridges, etc. As for the others, not so much.

    Dmac (49b16c)

  16. Comment by JD — 2/11/2009 @ 6:51 am
    JD, consider this argument:
    What caused the credit crunch was the banks lending on small margins to people who weren’t good prospects for repayment, ‘sub-prime’ candidates if you will. Mortgages to people in America went bad, billions of dollars weren’t repayed, banks made losses, they got scared, they refused to lend, businesses/ individuals couldn’t access capital, jobs were lost.

    Money circulation is what stimulates the economy. You keep $20 in your mattress, nothing happens. Spend some in a shop, their staff gets paid, spends some again, perhaps in another shop, three people benefit. If you have $100, put it in the bank, they loan $90 to someone, who then puts £80 of that in another bank, which loans out another $70. All of a sudden, the original $100 has created $100+£90+70 of capital, i.e. $260. As long as the banks dont loan too much to people who can’t repay, the system works. If no one spends, imports and exports grind to a halt, companies close, people become unemployed, and we continue or slow downward cycle.

    Emperor7 (1b037c)

  17. Nothing that you described, lovie, has anything to do with government pork products. Your little story was about consumer spending.

    JD (c6800b)

  18. Yes but it is in response to your question. Spending does keep the economy moving. Or don’t you think?

    Emperor7 (1b037c)

  19. Not government spending, which is what I referenced. I know reading is difficult, but come on. At least try.

    JD (c6800b)

  20. Patterico – Don’t give me your overpass in Elkhart, Indiana crap. My community has got replacing curtains in a senior citizen center as just one of its many projects in the stimulus bill. That is exactly the kind of high priority crumbling infrastructucture project that was crying out for the direct intervention of Congress which belongs in this bill.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  21. Daley, it’s more than hilarious that our favorite Big City Mayor isn’t willing to let the public see what Chicago’s in line to get from this pork -o – rama, despite most other municipalitites having done so. At least he was honest when questioned about it last week, saying “but that’s when you guys (reporters) start picking everything apart.” Much like our own Dear Leader, wouldn’t you agree?

    Dmac (49b16c)

  22. Comment by JD — 2/11/2009 @ 7:36 am
    That is subject to argument.

    Emperor7 (1b037c)

  23. Then make the argument for government spending, which is what you are advocating. So far, you have made the argument for consumer spending.

    JD (c6800b)

  24. “Much like our own Dear Leader, wouldn’t you agree?”

    Dmac – Yup. Pass it before it’s too late! Stop quibbling. Don’t look behind the curtain, just like my background.

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  25. %50,000,000,000 to guard against foreclosures. How many homes are in jeopardy of being foreclosed? Wouldn’t it be easier to just buy all of the houses that are about to be foreclosed? I bet it would be cheaper

    Actually, that’s a good plan. For $800 billion, Uncle Sam could buy up 2,000,000 mortgages (assuming an average of $400,000 per mortgage). Think how much stimulation to the economy there would be if 2 million people suddenly didn’t have mortgage payments. It would have to be better than Obama’s current proposal.

    Steverino (69d941)

  26. steverino – I guess when you look at it that way. This whole concept of protecting people from foreclosure which is a result of their own voluntary bad decision making is just kind of mind boggling to me.

    JD (c6800b)

  27. Oh Noes! Baracky’s lost Kathleen Parker. The first sentence of her column in today’s Washington Post:

    “The first however-many days of Barack Obama’s presidency have been a study in amateurism.”

    It doesn’t get better from there. Heh!

    daleyrocks (5d22c0)

  28. Why should the govt be buying 400,000 mortgages?

    Those are beyond a stimulus

    My version of a stimulus is take a 2 year break from collecting social security taxes and just give benefits to those who are actually retired and actually paid into the system enough to cover those 2500 dollar checks

    EricPWJohnson (8e86b5)

  29. steverino – I guess when you look at it that way. This whole concept of protecting people from foreclosure which is a result of their own voluntary bad decision making is just kind of mind boggling to me.

    Oh, I agree. It’s not the government’s job to protect people from their own folly.

    But, given the choice between bailing a bunch of consumers out and the Obamonstrosity that’s going through Congress, I’ll take bailing out the consumers.

    For one thing, it immediately stimulates the economy by giving people permanent disposable income. For another, it doesn’t create more bureaucracy and add billions to the budget baseline for generations to come.

    Neither is the right thing to do, but Obama’s Stimulapalooza ’09 is the worse of the two.

    Steverino (69d941)

  30. Agreed. But the consumers cannot be trusted. Only government can solve this crisis. Baracky said so.

    JD (c6800b)

  31. Yes, only government…which has been voted in by consumers…who can’t be trusted :)

    The more I think about it, this plan of mine isn’t too bad as far as lousy ideas go. Aside from helping out real consumers, it also lets banks shed $800 billion in bad loans, stabilizing both the banks and consumers in one fell swoop.

    Add a provision that the borrowers who benefit from this bill are not allowed to borrow against their property ever again, and you prevent consumers the untrustworthy consumers from repeating this proplem in the future.

    Let’s get the Republicans behind this: the great taxpayer bailout of 2009.

    Steverino (69d941)

  32. I don’t think the F 22 is a good use of defense spending. I used to work for a defense contractor many years ago (when McCain’s A4D was built) and know a bit about the way things go. We need a major program to replace equipment used in Iraq and Afghanistan as much of it is worn out or soon will be. Those jobs would be just as good as the Lockheed jobs.

    If you want to see the shape of aircraft for the future, look at this.

    By the way, if anyone wants to know why Obama wants the census in the White House, he knows what he’s doing. It’s not coincidence.

    MIke K (f89cb3)

  33. […] the original post: Patterico’s Pontifications » The F-22: Cheaper Jobs Than the … Share and […]

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  34. isnt the f22 supposed to be sort of a finicky prima donna plane anyway? Can we not buy them but give them a less money to develop a better one?

    EdWood (c2268a)

  35. The F 22 actually has a flight envelope that exceeds a human pilot’s tolerance for G force. It might end up as a UAV anyway. Right now, it has been “detuned” in performance so the pilot doesn’t kill himself with pulling too many Gs. I’m sure it is the last manned fighter. You could build those Grumman 62-foot-wingspan fighters for a fraction and lose a few if they weren’t quite stealthy enough.

    There are Air Force colonels flying Global Hawk UAVs in Afghanistan from Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson. They go to work for a 12 hour shift sitting at a console. It’s not as much fun as zipping around the sky in an F 15 but it sure is nice for the family when you come home after your shift. And you don’t have that long flight from a carrier 600 miles away going in and out.

    MIke K (8df289)

  36. F-22 is a stupid project and needs to be canceled. The bottom line is the US can’t afford to spend that much money on single sorties. The political equation requires a nearly infinite cost to save the life of a single pilot. Okay, we get that. But $100 million is Way Too Much to pay for an airplane, when much less can be spent to manufacture an unmanned craft to accomplish the same mission.

    F-22 is certainly the best fighter aircraft ever, for the most physically awesome pilots ever, but come on. One lucky $2 bullet can take these things down.

    Wesson (3ab0b8)

  37. I sort of need to retract my previous comment. I sound like a retard for opposing the hyperexpensive F-22 when even more ridiculous spending projects are being approved this week. Whatever. It’s not my problem. As a nation, we really need to get our spending priorities straight. Spending unlimited cash on everything is not sustainable.

    Wesson (3ab0b8)

  38. The F-22 has capacities which make it far superior to the F-15 and F-16. It can easily win air battles that would be chancy for the older planes. Four F-22s can execute missions that would require eight to 16 F-16s.

    If we’re going to spend hundreds of billion$, we might as well spend some of it making sure our pilots live, and the other poor dumb bastard dies for his country.

    Rich Rostrom (09ec82)

  39. That’s all fine, Mike, until someone jams their radio links.

    SPQR (72771e)

  40. […] against this thing working is about as sure a deal as you can get – it’s plain wrong, wrong. So we have a stimulus bill that will cost over $800 billion, and will allegedly save up to 4 […]

    Quote of the Day « Something should go here, maybe later. (5c299c)

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