Pentagon should buy American

Joseph Gresham
Pentagon should buy American
If we are like most Americans, common sense plays a big role in the decisions we make. When we shop for groceries, let’s say, do we buy the peanut butter that’s expensive or a brand that’s cheap?

If we are like most Americans, common sense plays a big role in the decisions we make.

When we shop for groceries, let’s say, do we buy the peanut butter that’s expensive or a brand that’s cheap? Well, the answer depends on our priorities. We might buy the expensive brand if we know we won’t actually eat the cheap brand because we don’t think it tastes as good.

These types of decisions, though larger in scope, are made in the business world on a daily basis, whether the business is small or a corporation employing thousands. And if you are responsible for making decisions on behalf of a company, your choice ordinarily comes down to who offers the most effective service for the most reasonable price.

It may be big business, but usually common sense rules.

This principle came to my mind as I recently read about a choice the Pentagon must make in a pending multibillion-dollar defense contract. The U.S. needs to build 500 new refueling tanker planes. These are the planes that carry fuel to other airplanes and fill their tanks in flight. Needless to say, these tanker planes are critical to our military efforts.

The Pentagon is choosing between the American company Boeing and Northrop Grumman, an organization being contracted by the French company Airbus. The contract is scheduled to be awarded in the next few months. I hope we choose Boeing, and here are three reasons why.

The first reason is jobs. Boeing, an American company, will provide more of them. The estimates are 44,000 U.S. jobs with a Boeing contract versus roughly 25,000 U.S. jobs if the award goes to Northrup Grumman-Airbus. In other words, if Boeing gets the work, the jobs will stay in the United States. If Boeing doesn’t get the work, the parts will be built overseas and shipped to the United States for assembly.

The second reason is that Boeing makes a quality product. It’s not a matter of the U.S. looking for a foreign supplier because the quality would be better.

In the late 1940s, U.S. officials asked Boeing to develop a refueling system that could transfer fuel at a higher rate than had been possible with earlier systems using flexible hoses. Boeing engineers came up with the concept of a “Flying Boom” system. The B-29 was the first to employ the system, and between 1950 and 1951, 116 original B-29s, designated KB-29Ps, were converted at the Boeing plant at Renton, Wash.

Boeing went on to develop the world’s first production aerial tanker, the KC-97 Stratotanker, a piston-engined Boeing Stratocruiser with a Boeing-developed flying boom and extra kerosene (jet fuel) tanks feeding the boom. The Stratocruiser airliner itself was developed from the B-29 bomber after World War II.

Boeing has been in the business a long time.

A third reason to support Boeing’s effort would be good, old-fashioned patriotism. Although most people understand the necessity of a healthy, global economy and maintaining sensible working relations with ally countries, we also shouldn’t turn our heads when American companies make quality products for American needs.

I think we have to ask ourselves: if a U.S. company makes a product equal to or better than a foreign competitor, if a U.S. company makes that product at equal to or less cost, and if the U.S. company offers U.S. citizens more jobs in the process, why not choose the U.S. company?

Gresham is the business representative for District 34 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

http://wvgazette.com/Opinion/Op-EdCommentaries/200801200419