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.