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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

December 7, 2008 at 3:08 PM

An alternative to the Big-Three Automaker bailout

Start making weapons

The opinion piece in the Times, Tuesday, Dec. 2, “Boeing shows the way for U.S. automakers” [guest columnists] makes an interesting point, but missed another key point. Forget the commercial aircraft; Boeing makes the big money from its guaranteed military contracts, which provide annual revenues in the billions of dollars.

Boeing is the prime contractor for missile defense, and along with other weapons makers, is working with the U.S. Space Command, building military space systems to fight wars from space. And don’t forget those “smart” bombs used extensively in Afghanistan and Iraq.

And there is much, much more.

But there is more than domestic opportunity here; Boeing and Lockheed Martin are the largest U.S. weapons exporters, making up an estimated 60 percent of the $34 billion in 2008 overseas arms sales.

The global war on terror is drumming up lots of business, particularly from nations that just might be better off funding education, health and infrastructure programs that would go much further in improving their long-term stability.

There is a veritable bottomless pit of money available through the Pentagon (and of course from a compliant Congress.) And with the revolving door that has people like President-elect Barack Obama’s National Security Advisor choice, Gen. James Jones, on Boeing’s board of directors (as well as Chevron’s.) Boeing is set for the next four years.

So if the U.S. automakers want to get with the program, the choice is obvious: Forget the government loans. Start marketing to the Pentagon (as well as the foreign arms markets.) Then the CEOs won’t have to give up the corporate jets, big salaries and definitely won’t have to drive those wimpy hybrids.

And they shouldn’t forget to hire some retired generals.

— Leonard Eiger, North Bend

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