Whither the F-22?

I have been thinking for months about canceling my print subscription to the Washington Post, but I just can’t seem to pull the trigger. Now I have a new reason for holding onto the messy things just a little while longer: those full-page advertisements for the F-22.

They have appeared almost every day for the past few weeks – full-colored ads that boast “95,000 employed, 300 million protected.” They feature pictures of smiling workers who (presumably) would be thrown out of work if we were to stop building the planes. They claim that the F-22 keeps us all safe and secure, now and well into the future. The ads tell us that the F-22 is essential both to our physical security, and our economic security. It just wouldn’t be the same if all that happy talk were confined to flashing banners on my computer screen.

But while the Post is surely happy to keep taking both my subscription money and the revenue from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and the 13 companies that paid for the ads, I’m still not convinced that the F-22 is worth the money (more than $350 million per plane).

Neither is Fred Kaplan (maybe he is reading the online version of the Post?)

It likely won’t be the last word in the debate, but Kaplan’s latest at Slate makes a pretty good case for what I’ve been saying for some time: If the plane cannot be justified on its strategic merits, then it is unfair for 299,105,000 Americans to pay merely to keep 95,000 employed. Our defense decisions should be driven by strategic necessity, not slick advertising campaigns and dubious claims about the economic harm that will come if some people have to switch jobs.