Utah representative Rob Bishop proudly insists that he is a fiscal conservative. He rejects “massive government spending on bloated federal programs that puts our country deeper into debt.” Judging from his statement on the floor of the House in 2006, one might suppose he was determined to critically review government programs and spending based on their effectiveness, working to ax those which didn’t pass muster.
Except, seemingly, when it comes to glamorous military equipment such as the F-22.
No, Rob Bishop is proud to have played a role in saving the F-22, a weapon which is many times as expensive as the fighter it is supposed to replace, requires far more frequent and costly maintenance, is vulnerable to rain, and which appears completely unqualified for the sorts of warfare in which we seem likely to be engaged in the future; after all it has never flown a mission in Iraq or Afghanistan during its four years of service. Does anyone really expect the sort of full-scale conflict with another large, military power in which these flashy fighters might shine to come around in the foreseeable future? (see R. Jeffrey Smith, “Premier U.S. Fighter Jet Has Major Shortcomings,” The Washington Post, and Jeff Huber, “Sticker Shock and Awe,” The American Conservative).
Nevermind any critical analysis of the program. Bishop is apparently willing to overlook this expensive government program and it’s questionable impact on national defense because, as Bishop’s website proudly announced, his defense of the F-22 “scored some significant victories for Utah’s military installations and personnel.”
In other words, it’s about pork, a game which the military-industrial complex has become experts at playing with Congress (see the insightful documentary Why We Fight).
We can’t have government “waste” on energy efficiency, environmental protection, or health care. We must reserve that instead for the war-toys which set warhawk hearts aflutter and keep people employed in production of dubious value. Just keep in mind the warning of President Eisenhower:
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.
This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals.
It is some 50 miles of concrete highway. We pay for a single fighter with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.
This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking.
This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron (“A Chance for Peace,” American Society of Newspaper Editors; April 16, 1953).