http://www.atlanticfreepress.com/news/1 ... tagon.html
Tomgram: Frida Berrigan, How Shovel-Ready Is the Pentagon?
by Tom Engelhardt
President Obama has recently threatened to rescind the "blank check" the Bush administration offered to big defense contractors. So now is the time when all that planning by Lockheed Martin and the other major arms manufacturers comes into play. One of that company's major weapons systems, the F-22 Raptor, is potentially on the chopping block. How convenient then that, in the midst of an economic meltdown, Lockheed just happens to have more than 1,000 parts suppliers for that jet carefully scattered across 44 states, all of which, as far as I know, have representatives in Congress. This is pretty typical.
Take the Army's Future Combat System (FCS), which Noah Shachtman of Wired.com's Danger Zone blog calls a "poster child in Washington for Pentagon bloat and overreach." According to a recent Army briefing document, "The FCS Manned Ground Vehicle program encompasses more than 839 suppliers in 38 states totaling more than $6.2B in development cost impact." The only question, of course, is: How could the prospective eight-vehicle system have missed those other 12 states? Similarly, when it comes to the Navy's much desired Virginia Class Submarine, according to MSNBC's Tom Curry, "Supplier work on the subs is spread from Northampton, Mass., (Kollmorgen Corp.) to Tacoma, Wash., (Bradken-Atlas Castings) not to mention the main sub building sites in Groton and in Newport News. Each of those congressional districts happens to be represented by a Democratic member of the House of Representatives."
The list of weapons systems is practically endless and the various services and companies responsible for them invariably try to spread the largess across as many congressional districts as possible. What this means is that any cuts are likely to be fiercely fought, both within the military and in Congress, backed by all the lobbying power of the weapons makers. That's why the latest post by Frida Berrigan, military expert for the New America Foundation and TomDispatch regular, is so important. It's a reminder that, for all the cash the military-industrial complex slathers over Congress, and all the money spread around the country, the modern weapons industry is a stimulus damper. That's not a point much trumpeted in this country. As Berrigan points out, however, if you want economic bounce, it's best not to put your money into things that go "boom" in the night, but into the peaceable professions like health care and education. Tom