Letter to the Editor: No tax break for General Dynamics

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LD 1781 that has been proposed to provide General Dynamics with a $60 million tax break (gift) this year has been getting more and more attention as Maine taxpayers begin to learn more about how General Dynamics is using its leverage as a card-carrying member of what President/General Dwight David Eisenhower labelled the “Military/Industrial/Congressional Complex.” One of the more insidious strategies employed by this group of war mongers is to sprinkle their industries throughout each state of the union. That way if people like me come along and complain about the bloated war production budget ($700 billion this year and destined to grow even larger next year), the industry in question can call me a “job destroyer.” General Dynamics, through Bath Iron Works, is playing that card now. Here’s what’s objectionable about their argument:

1)  They do not acknowledge that the manufacturing of military equipment is notoriously capital-intensive: i.e., there is more and more investment in machines (read robots, etc) than in labor (read workers). I doubt very much that GD will use its tax break to hire as many new workers as it will invest in new technology to replace these and future workers. In fact, in the 1997 gift of $200 million from Maine to GD they used the funds to ‘modernize and mechanize’ the BIW shipyard, laying off thousands over the ensuing years.

2)  The hypocritical posturing of upper management as they publicly wring their hands about the plight of our state whose citizens are “deserting” these very same workers. Give me a break. If you think they really care about your town, you have been reading too many Wall Street Journal editorials. As the manager of two Bass Factory outlets lo so many years ago, I watched firsthand as corporate forces tore apart a town. When I first began working at Bass in Wilton, the company was owned by a family. Wilton was the quintessential factory town. The family took care of its employees. Then the company was sold to a corporation, and I witnessed the dismantling of the factory (the first department to go was quality control) and the turning out of skilled, dedicated craftspeople. I doubt very much if General Dynamics has more “heart” than this corporation had.

3)  The anguishing about jobs being ripped away from our communities also depends on the assumption that American factories are no longer capable of re-tooling as they did after the close of World War II. What, besides corporate greed, would prevent BIW from restructuring to build, say, hospital ships, or even, heaven forbid, solar panels and wind mills? Or high speed trains? What if our tax dollars were spent on this re-tooling process, including training new workers and re-training veteran workers? Wouldn’t that be a better investment for our state?

4)  The sacrosanct belief that this huge sum of money is going directly into our national defense and supporting our heroic soldiers is also mostly smoke and mirrors. Ask a soldier or a veteran or a soldier’s family what the annual pay and benefits are for each soldier. Let’s say it’s $40,000. Then multiply that amount by, say, two million (there were a total of 1.3 million active duty military and more than 800,000 reserve forces as of September 2017, according to Defense Department personnel data). That’ll give you about $80 billion. Then subtract that from $700 billion. So where is the remaining $620 billion going? Not too much of it is going to the VA, I can tell you that. Think if a portion of that money was, in fact, redirected into the VA system. As a patient at Togus and as a volunteer there, I can attest to the high quality and dedication of the doctors and nurses serving our veterans each day. What they need is more support staff and better equipment and supplies that are not coming their way. And don’t get me going about how our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan had to jerry rig their equipment to make it safer. Where was the relative pittance of funds needed to remedy that situation? Since the Pentagon is never audited, we’ll probably never know. Here’s my guess – this inflated military budget is being siphoned off to benefit the few at the sacrifice of the many.

5)  Finally, let’s forget economics for a moment and look at morality. As a nation that purports to be religious, and heavily leaning toward Christianity, how can we, in good conscience, support a war machine that flies in the face of all religious teachings to “love one’s brother and sister”? Wait, you might say, we need to protect ourselves from some heathen terrorist bent on our destruction. But even that argument falters in the face of reality – is not our state-sponsored terrorism (think drones and special ops forces) actually creating more terrorists than preventing the rise of terrorism? Whatever happened to love and diplomacy being exported from these shores instead of weapons and military forces (we are, by far, the number one exporter of weaponry in the world).

So, here it is. Another moment of truth in this complex world. Does it not make more sense to be on the side of peace rather than of war? Let’s use this moment given to us by the naked greed of General Dynamics to make a stand for humanity rather than for another corporation’s bottom line. Please contact your legislators and urge them to close down this redistribution of Maine’s tax dollars from our schools and hospitals to General Dynamics’ shareholders. Thank you.

Douglas Rawlings

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  1. Those who can’t kill, will always be subject to those who can. If we let our military assets stagnate, We would be overrun by those who don’t. Russia at the moment has the skill and ability to shoot down our best fighters, the F-35 is nothing compared to the Su-35, the only plane to effectively shoot down the Raptor in training. Russian ASMs Air to Surface Missile are more than capable of long range air to ship attacks, designed for near waterline strikes. What does American ships use for anti missile defense? The 20mm Phalanx. If America disarms first, we die first. They we keep ourselves safe, is to be the cutting edge of military technology or close to it.

  2. “Does it not make more sense to be on the side of peace rather than of war?”
    Of course it does, but Trump wants his big military parade, so that’s where the focus is, sorry to say.

  3. Well, let’s not forget we spend nearly half the world’s military budget, have a nuclear deterrent, and due to geography it would be really difficult for anyone to attack the US. Indeed, the logic you have, Hrtlss Bstrd would lead other countries to build rapidly to protect themselves from the US. So I think the US could significantly cut military spending without endangering our defense. It might make it harder to intervene in other parts of the world, though given how we’ve been weakened by such interventions in recent decades, that may not be a bad thing. Russia is overall militarily weak (though they have a nuclear deterrent too). China’s military is relatively small compared to their economic clout – and if they stopped purchasing bonds or started dumping bonds or US currency, they could put us into an economic collapse. Perhaps that is the bigger threat than someone actually attacking the US.

  4. But you liberals expect us to protect every repressed soul. You can’t have it both ways.

  5. Scott Erb, A strong military is like like a condom, better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it. In 1939, everybody said there was no way a foreign power could attack the US, Japan said, “Challenge accepted” Granted they only got a military base in the south pacific, but still. They could have just as easily attacked the mainland. Never under estimate a determined enemy, We have been fighting people who are using old WW2 Russian stock, for almost 30 years, We got our asses handed to us from 1955 to 1975 in Vietnam because we underestimated our enemy.

  6. Hrtlss, if the “military is like like a condom” then what does that make us? Yeah, i figured. Perhaps building tension with a crazy nation like North Korea and back room partnerships with a country like Russia was just a bad idea or a good one if you need to distract people. With dropping pole numbers and stocks even a cowardly draft dodger can use the military to gain support from populist nationalists. I love my country and support our troops but leadership that uses spectacle in outlandish ways to gain support is merely the work of a propaganda machine. I would personally be impressed if we spend millions of tax dollars for a one day event to honor Mr. Bone splinters ego. And please stop playing the Obama card, this is all the RepubliCONs in charge or resigning or getting fired, whatever you want to call the hyper swamp these days. Go GOP, you really know how to excessively spend our money.

  7. Our friend Bernie has the right (left?) idea on Trump’s parade idea

    ” Bernie Sanders
    ✔ @SenSanders

    Hey, Mr. President: Instead of copying France’s military parade, why not copy France’s health care system? Health care for all, low-cost prescription drugs, much less expensive. “

  8. Hey Samo,
    Bernie Lost (it was cheated out of a chance by the crooked Democrats),,,
    Hillary lost (because she is crooked),,,
    Trump won,,,(because of The Democrats unbelievable corruption).
    And the libs still refuse to face up to that.. !!!

    So, who’s to blame for your problems, really?

  9. Hrtless bastard (good handle): You’re letting your own worldview distort my words. I am not calling for unilateral disarmament. I agree that in this unfortunate world that would be suicidal. What I am proposing is that we re-consider blindly sending our tax dollars into that voracious rabbit-hole that Eisenhower identified. Take a look at all the fighter planes we have moth-balled, for example. Billions of dollars redirected from roads and bridges and hospitals and healthcare and education only to end up in a military “graveyard.” Your argument was trotted out in the fifties only to be debunked later. There is no “arms race”other than the one our government has created. We have the means to more than protect ourselves without bankrupting our democracy any further. Take a close look at the General Dynamics game plan, and ask yourself if it is designed to protect the constitution or if it is set up to line some fat cats’ pockets. Doug Rawlings

  10. Hrtlss – given that we have a nuclear deterrent, who would attack us? In fact, for advanced industrialized states I suspect the era of big military conflicts is over. The future will be asymmetrical warfare, terrorism, special operations, cyberwarfare, and economics. The US still has the world’s largest military, but most states do not see us as a country to fear. Iraq and Afghanistan showed the limits of US power, and our economy is high in debt (and the debt is growing quickly in the current administration), with China holding a large percentage of that debt (while their economy is in surplus). I fear we’re locked in 20th Century thinking, in a world of globalization and change that we don’t yet fully understand.

  11. Empires who go on borrowing sprees to fund wars and military expansion they can’t afford do not end well. I’m guessing the CEO of General Dynamics making $21 million a year doesn’t really care about where this road ends up. But, all of our grandchildren will care.

  12. Who’s fault/ Hrtless whoever: “Trump won,,,(because of The Democrats unbelievable corruption).” Really? This is a prime example of RepubliCONS who are unable to take responsibility for their choices. Blaming everyone else is a convenient way to avoid responsibility for your mistakes. Trump was elected by Republicans. Remember that. Denial and Blame is just a defense mechanism to minimize personal damage. I accept that democrats are not perfect and I’ve actually never claimed to be one but at least they don’t tax us twice and tell us it’s the other teams fault.

  13. Audit the organization that controls our money (the private federal reserve banks) then audit the Pentagon…..Read the Government’s own document;
    THE PRIMER ON MONEY by Congressman Wright Pattman and you will
    find a world of knowledge you never knew.
    Oh…wait a moment…That document is no longer available to the public.
    Sorry we will all just have to wait until someone else in the Swamp tells us
    the truth but when they do you will have to look quick before that also is gone. As Henry Ford once said; “The only problem with America is it’s short memory”…….Can I get an Amen ?

  14. Samo, thanks for making my point again.
    You rail against everything Trump but refuse to accept that if the Dems had behaved themselves Trump would have lost.

    I’m not a republican. The Dems just make me more ill.
    You guys sound silly until you acknowledge the crookedness of the Dems also.
    And you accomplish nothing.

  15. Trump is president because the Dems ran the only person in the U.S. so distasteful as to lose an election to him.

  16. @ Who’s who: You had a point? And I thought you were just blaming the people who didn’t vote for the current admin for the election of the current admin. The equivalent of blaming Apples for not being Oranges. Brought to you by the Oranges Rule party!

  17. Bernie said he would have beat Trump.
    We will never know if that’s true because the corrupt Democrats and the Clinton machine cheated him out of a chance.
    Bernie also said Trump would beat Hillary. We now know that he was correct.

    They followed the Clinton’s off the cliff.
    Shame on them for what they systematically did and crying about the result.

    This corruption runs deep on both sides folks.

  18. Who’s who: Thank you. That was a clear recap and I actually do agree. Never railed anything or said anyone was innocent I’m just trying to work on the current problem rather than connect the dots. I didn’t vote for Trump or Hillary because the whole election was a rigged circus but I don’t think reflecting on the past and finding blame will help us now. We need to stand up to the present political corruption and blatant destruction of our country that is occurring, in the present. Right now we have handed already profiting corporations the keys to the treasury and national parks. If we the people lose that then what do we have left? We will all be forced to beg for a hand out when this admin is done.

  19. Tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy are a bad idea. Remember when we gave HUGE sums of money to Comcast and other corporations because they promised they would upgrade and extend the high speed Internet lines, and then they just pocketed the money, raised consumer’s rates on services, and laughed all the way to the bank?

    That’s exactly what will happen here. If you think any corporation, including General Dynamics, is going to help people or invest in the community with their extra money, then you’re getting tricked again. It’s making the rich wealthier, all the time, that’s what we’re all working for. We even gave them some of our National Parks- it never ends.

    “The upper class keeps all of the money, pays none of the taxes. The middle class pays all of the taxes, does all of the work. The poor are there just to scare the {expletive} out of the middle class. Keep ’em showin’ up at those jobs” — George Carlin

    Overturn Citizens United. It was the single worst mistake in modern US History.
    Corporations=People, and $$=Free Speech. Therefore the “people” with the most money have the most speech, and get to run the whole country, because they’ve literally bought all of our politicians, whether the politicians are democrats or republicans, they used to represent the people, now they represent the interests of the $$$.

  20. Samo, I never mentioned Trump. Scott Erb, At the moment, I don’t fear any of the world’s armies. But the last time America was attacked, it was Saudi Arabians with a few commercial airliners, Fat lot of good our nuclear deterrent did us. Personally I like Trump’s quote about nuclear weapons, “What’s the point of having them, if you are not going to use them.” Nobody wants them, nobody has the guts to use them, but nobody wants to get rid of them. Even North Korea keeps threatening to use them, but he hasn’t yet. I’d let one fly just to see what would happen, I bet if I used one there would be no retaliation because people would be too afraid I might use another one. 20,000 people would reach 10,000 degrees in less than a second with maybe half a million dead in a week, would the world leaders risk more dead people? I’m guessing not. at least they would take me seriously. We know who is doing the terrorist attacks, we have the power to decimate them, yet we don’t do it, why? During world war 2 we rounded up Germans and Japanese immigrants and put them in concentration camps because we feared internal attacks, we are at war with Muslims, we have had internal attacks by Muslims, yet we continue to allow them to come and go and wander where ever they please, why?

  21. In WWII many American citizens were interned based on their ethnicity. That act has been roundly condemned as it should be.

    “In 1988, President Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act to compensate more than 100,000 people of Japanese descent who were incarcerated in internment camps during World War II. The legislation offered a formal apology and paid out $20,000 in compensation to each surviving victim.”

    To propose that another group be “rounded up” based on religion is alarming, uninformed and bigoted.

  22. Well, ethically nuclear weapons kill a lot of innocent people, and if the US used one we would be condemned by everyone, China would probably stop financing our debt (and may start selling off bonds and currency, causing economic crisis), our allies would shift to supporting other countries, and we’d probably end up harming our own national interest. Moreover, it’s a gamble with the future of the planet. If there is retaliation, if China or Russia felt they HAD TO show that the US can’t get away with it without consequence, then things spiral out of control. You may be right, but if you’re wrong, the price is extraordinarily high.

    I do agree about the fact armies can’t threaten the US, but terrorists can. That’s why I think war is going to fundamentally change due to technology. The day of big battles and armies, tanks, etc. facing each other may be over (at least outside the third world). Now terrorism, asymmetrical warfare, and for countries like the US special operations and intelligence sharing are key weapons. The Pentagon is actually embracing this and moving towards new technologies. But that also means that if we used a nuke and angered the world, there would be a greater chance of a major terror attack against us by some non-state actor.

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