Acclaimed author and vice-president of the American Anti-Imperialist League, Mark Twain, popularized the expression, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Bureaucrats revel in distorting life’s spontaneous order with data-driven government policies and interventions. They hide behind their numbers to provide a facade of respectability, or in other instances, employ data to argue conclusions that are just as absurd as the State’s present brutality and thievery. Some statistics, however, frighten even the administrators of Leviathan.
Americans’ trust in government is at historically low levels. According to recent Gallup and Pew public opinion polls, more than four-fifths of Americans do not trust Washington, D.C. “to do what is right.” During the past half-century, a fluctuating segment of those respondents – not an insignificant number, but in the single digits – said that they never trust the federal government.
Never. That’s a good start.
In 2016, individuals living under the jurisdiction of the ever-expanding lawless State known as America have ample reason to distrust the government, as do those who are subject to its dictates abroad.
Although there are substantive alternatives, the government not only currently commands a monopoly on so-called defense, but it bleeds taxpayers of their hard-earned dollars to involuntarily fund this counterproductive monstrosity headquartered on the Potomac. Even worse, there are countlessexamples of government policies and interventions that actually further endanger the liberty and security of Americans, not to mention those on the receiving end of Uncle Sam’s so-called benevolent hegemony.
To understand the perverse incentives created by the political death cult in DC and its Holy Priests blessing the bloodletting from the Pentagon, look no further than Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest defense contractor.
In the wake of the failed military coup in Turkey earlier this month against its autocrat Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a notable longtime partner of Lockheed Martin and the U.S. government, the company’s CEO Marillyn Hewson discussed second quarter earnings with analysts on a call July 19 and unabashedly spun the recent developments in Turkey faster than the F-35 can fly.
More on that shortly.
Hewson reaffirmed Lockheed Martin’s commitment to Erdogan and his government, cynically praising their value to NATO as “an essential security partner in that region for the United States and for our allies.” She apparently said this without chuckling.
Lockheed Martin CFO Bruce Tanner doubled-down on the close partnership with Turkey, emphasizing the company’s dealings dating back to the 1970s and production of the F-16 Fighting Falcon, a program attained by Lockheed Martin in 1993 after acquiring an aviation division of General Dynamics.
OK, so State parasites from the weapons industry are selling some machines of death to another State? What’s new, you ask?
Not much, unfortunately, which brings us back to concerns about the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter. This flying dumpster fire has incinerated nearly $400 billion of our tax dollars – so far – making it the most expensive weapons system in the American Empire’s history.
But news broke July 28 that the Air Force is close to certifying the F-35 as ready for combat, only a mere decade and a half after the program began. The announcement was made by Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle, head of the Air Combat Command and possibly a little-known extra from Stanley Kubrick’s prescient film, Dr. Strangelove.
The F-35 has a tortuous history of cost overruns, significant production delays, and astonishing operational issues, much of which the government would like taxpayers to forget. But as the Air Force prepares to parade its expensive new toy before the world – and more ominously, Puerto Rico and the forty-five states where it serves as a jobs program for shameless military Keynesianism – let’s make sure that no one forgets about this boondoggle, the jet that ate the Pentagon.
Only days before the Air Force’s revelation, National Security Correspondent Amanda Macias pointed out a fascinating passage on page 32 of Lockheed Martin’s most recent 10-K annual report filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The final paragraph of the section detailing the status of the F-35 program tells you everything you need to know about central planning and the absurdity of the American Empire.
The concluding analysis states, “Current program challenges include, but are not limited to, supplier and partner performance, software development, level of cost associated with life cycle operations and sustainment and warranties, receiving funding for production contracts on a timely basis, executing future flight tests, findings resulting from testing, and operating the aircraft.”
Operating the aircraft is a current program challenge after fifteen years of expropriating and burning through nearly $400 billion of our tax dollars.
But don’t shed tears for supposedly crash-strapped Lockheed Martin, Dear Taxpayer.
Contract negotiations between the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin have been prolonged, and nearly $1 billion of the company’s money was invested to keep the program alive, but CFO Bruce Tanner takes comfort in the prospect of a significant return on investment, commenting, “We will not be able to continue and have that level of cash outflow as a corporation. We simply don’t have that capacity. The Pentagon clearly knows that situation, and I’m optimistic that we are going to get cash soon.”
Perhaps he was thinking of news from the week prior, because optimism abounds when prospective clients, like those bastions of freedom Qatar and Saudi Arabia (as well as at least half a dozen other nations in the ballistic missile range of North Korea and Iran) are considering multibillion dollar weapons systems such as THAAD, which is “designed to destroy short-, medium-, and intermediate-range missiles in midair.”
And that other leading light of liberty, Turkey, has also shown interest in acquiring MEADS from Lockheed Martin, “a missile defense system with a 360-degree field of view designed to defeat short- and medium-range ballistic missiles.”
What could possibly go wrong?
For now, take a cue from the late Enemy of the State, Murray N. Rothbard, remembering that, “while the short-run prospects for liberty at home and abroad may seem dim, the proper attitude for the libertarian to take is that of unquenchable long-run optimism.”
Fifty-seven percent of Americans told Gallup that they pay too much in federal income taxes, which is the highest percentage since 2001. Nearly half of respondents say that their taxes are unfair. Trust in government is at record lows. Now is as good a time as any for our brothers and sisters from across the political spectrum to join in reconstituting last century’s much too short-lived American Anti-imperialist League.
If we do nothing, the US government and its allied Merchants of Death will continue to devour our taxes just as easily as they burn cities to the ground. While the outright costs of war are tangible, the opportunity costs of perpetuating the warfare state are incalculable.
But don’t take it from me. Let James Brown’s band, Fred Wesley & the J.B.’s, lead the indictment of the State:
“I’m paying taxes, but what am I buying? A whole lot of government muscle, and everybody crying.”
Jared Labell is executive director of Taxpayers United of America (TUA), a nonpartisan, 501(c)(4) taxpayer advocacy group. Founded in Chicago, Illinois in 1976 by activist and economist Jim Tobin, TUA works on behalf of taxpayers to reduce local, state, and federal taxes. Labell’s work has appeared on ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox television, WBBM and WBEZ radio, and published in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, other various newspapers, and the Future of Freedom Foundation.