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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

September 25, 2009 at 10:10 AM

Barbarians at the Gates? A new sheriff might tame the tanker brawl

Top of the News: How will the latest tanker competition turn out? Take the poll later in this post, and add your comments. Unlike many newspaper sites that just have talking-point screamers, this one has smart readers. Cool.

The new process will be the third time the Air Force has tried to replace a fleet planned in the Eisenhower era. A win for Boeing would be a big deal for Puget Sound. So let Boeing flash its “American company” cred, even though it’s “global” when it suits it. And the Airbus bid is as un-American as exurban Mobile, Ala., where the planes would be assembled. Get ready for another political dogfight.

The decisive figure this time may be the no-nonsense and widely respected Defense Secretary Bob Gates. He’s a veteran bureaucratic infighter, dedicated to creating effective programs for the wars we’re fighting now. He’s whipped the Air Force into his thinking, sacking generals, killing prized and costly programs such as the F-22 Raptor fighter. Does that bode well or ill for Boeing?

How will the tanker competition turn out?(polls)

IF THIS were not a serious and sober economics blog, we might have Snark Friday. It would include such news as Boeing discontinuing its tuition support for employees. After all, who needs a continuously learning, highly educated workforce to build complicated machines in a competitive world economy? It’s good news, I suppose, for South Carolina, where only 17 percent of the population has a bachelor’s degree, vs. Washington’s 22 percent.

If such a Snark Friday existed, it couldn’t help but take note of how British Airways is learning “customer service” from the American cousins and going them one better. BA will start charging extra for seat selection, charging more for seats in emergency rows and cutting meals on short-haul flights. The airline calls this giving “customers more control over their seating options.”

Snark Friday couldn’t help but note King County closing its animal shelter and control. Good news, surely, for all the fiscal hawks who believe “government should tighten its belt the same way taxpayers do.” But since government must provide services that markets usually don’t, we’ll see how citizens react to ever more cuts.

We’d also have to note the Denial Laff Riot with the New York Times trumpeting 10 billion barrels in new oil discoveries. Even if the “discoveries” were turned into production — hardly a sure thing — they would slake the world’s annual thirst for about four months. The Oil Drum has more in-depth debunking.

Today’s Econ Haiku:

Broken windows here

A sonorous pledge there

Par-tay in Pittsburgh

Comments | More in Aerospace/Boeing

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