Starbucks vs. Trailer Park Grounds

Unless you have been running the Iditarod, you probably have heard that the award for best Air Force large aerial tanker has gone to Northrop Grumman and European conglomerate EADS for their KC-45A entry, beating out the sentimental favorite — Boeing. 

Industry insiders and red-carpet spectators were sure America’s darling (Boeing) had a lock on this massive contract for 179 aircraft worth a cool $40 billion. It seemed such a sure thing that when Lockheed Martin was approached by EADS to be its “partner,” it declined, according to one source. It also has been reported that Northrop Grumman and EADS were so sure of Boeing’s invincibility, they almost bowed out. But they stayed and won handily in nearly all categories. 

So, why the well-covered the fireworks? 

Following the award announcement, labor leaders and members of Congress started their posturing and very public wailing and gnashing teeth. This is an election year, and many have been talking about what’s best for America — implying the Air Force’s decision was anything but. (That this contract was the Air Force’s to award and that EADS had the better proposal seem to be unimportant dogs in this fight.) 

If Congress and the unions would look past the next sound bite or election, they would see this contract award has the potential to be very good for U.S. business. It should increase and improve competition. The loss by the clear favorite might mean the Lockheeds of the defense world might not demure so quickly. Similarly, other nations might have increased interest in competing for U.S. contracts, and more opportunities should open for U.S. firms abroad. 

But the unbalanced coverage of the matter seems to say otherwise. The anger of workers in Boeing’s base of Washington state has been well-reported. But what about the jubilation of workers in Alabama? It seems the home of Starbucks and the pretty people will trump the Crimson Tide and trailer park queens every time.
The Air Force has made what appears to have been an incredibly difficult decision (difficult because of its seeming unpopularity) that will be best for the Air Force and probably very good for the U.S defense industry as a whole. Sadly, we continue to be bombarded with the empty, misleading rhetoric of supposed “leaders” be they members of Congress or patriarchs of labor.

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