Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Boeing, Boeing, Boeing . . . Boom

"US Outrage After EADS Wins Tanker Contract"

In one of the biggest U.S. military contracts to ever be handed out, the U.S. Air Force chose the European Aeronautic Defence Corp (the parent company of Airbus) over Boeing. The U.S. government will be paying a European company to build refueling tankers in Toulouse, France. Most people expected Boeing to get the contract so that the tankers could be built in Seattle and assembled in Wichita, not built in France and assembled in Alabama. Needless to say, politicians in Kansas and Washington are furious, while the Alabama hilljacks are delighted to plunge into the trough of euro-scraps.

Here's what bugs me about this headline:

* Europeans don't even know how to spell the word "defense."

* This decision will take jobs away from Americans and give them to -- the French! Remember the stupid wimpy country that didn't think it was a good idea to invade Iraq? It's the same country! This makes me want to avoid all mentions of France. Instead of eating french fries, I'll eat Boeing fries.

* I'm getting old. Things I read in the newspaper bother me now when ten years ago, I wouldn't have paid attention to it.

* More U.S. jobs are being outsourced. It's one thing for individual companies to outsource jobs -- it's only a matter of time before I lose my job to a low member of the caste system -- but you don't expect the U.S. government to send jobs overseas in what appears to be an equal bid. The U.S. is paying for the Iraq war, borrowing a whole bunch of money from China to pay for war airplanes, paying a European country to build those airplanes, and paying China to build our toy airplanes. Good thing for trickle down money, or I'd be headed overseas.

* This isn't like a competition between Chevrolet and Toyota. Boeing and Airbus are at least on equal footing, and a lot of people think Boeing makes much better planes than Airbus.

I know, I know. I'm oversimplifying the situation. If you look closely at the details, it's easy to get caught up in the complexity. A few years ago, Boeing was caught making shady no-bid deals with the Air Force to get a smaller tanker contract, and several people ended up in jail. Some people think this is payback for those 2003 scandals. Plus, by giving contracts to Europe, it greases the machinery for Europeans to buy more of our products. And Northrop, who partnered with EADS, is based in Southern California. Unlike Boeing, they're too lame to get the contract on their own, but they're still an American company.

Still, you can't ignore the basic facts of the case. At the onset of a recession, the government is outsourcing jobs that Americans are more than happy to do. At times like these, I'm tempted to remove my American flag lapel pin.