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Jon Talton

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

January 5, 2012 at 9:55 AM

Boeing to Wichita: Drop dead

Put not your faith in major corporations. The “job creators” answer to a higher authority than decades of community loyalty or high-skilled workers, as deeply conservative (“What’s the Matter With”) Kansas learned with Boeing’s decision to shut down operations in Wichita that date back to the 1920s. “The decision stings like a betrayal – one eliminating 2,160 local jobs, breaking promises of tanker-finishing work, and bringing a mutually beneficial 80-year relationship between the city and the company to a bitter end, editorialized the Wichita Eagle.

The editorial continues:

So much for the Kansas congressional delegation’s relentless, decade-long advocacy for Boeing on behalf of the tanker deal, and for the bond between the company and the community where it employed 40,000 people during World War II and 12,400 as recently as 2004.

As for the Puget Sound region, as the Seattle Times’ Dominic Gates reports, the decision will mean only about 100 jobs here, contrary to earlier expectations.

To be sure, relative cuts to the defense budget, if they actually happen, will affect many communities dependent on defense contractors. If the White House changes hands this year, they won’t happen, and in any event the “war on terror” and real or imagined threats from North Korea, Iran and China will keep the Military-Industrial Complex (Ike’s term, not mine) humming even beyond Cold War levels. Meanwhile, companies are expected to deliver unsustainably high profit margins to the Wall Street boyz — and big compensation to top executives. This even before hyper-competition from the BRICS is thrown in.

The bigger lesson is that in a slow- or no-growth America, we’re in a zero-sum game, a fight for a pie that’s not expanding. It’s especially true of companies that actually make things and create well-paying jobs for average workers. This time, Seattle got off easy. It may not next time.

And Don’t Miss: Seattle among America’s best-run cities || 24/7 Wall Street

Today’s Econ Haiku:

Dipping house prices

Should make the market liquid

Sellers still get soaked

Comments | More in Aerospace/Boeing

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