10% Facts, 90% Snark

I’ve long thought that part of our problem as conservatives is that we’re generally serious people when it comes to making important decisions in life — and that when we argue we actually make arguments.   This means the person making the argument has to actually take the time to construct one, and the person listening has to listen to and digest an often complex and more often than not boring rhetorical structure that takes more brain power than emotional reaction.

In other words, I find that most liberal arguments are about 10% fact and 90% snark.  And snark is cool.  Snark is fun.  Snark puts down the other guy, which, by Einstein’s theory of relativity, puts “up” the snarker.  Not only is it easier to be a liberal, it’s more fun – and you can always blame the consequences on someone else.

So this link was given specifically to me and my friend Whitehawk via facebook for us to respond to….

Phil, Gavin-we need this why?

The United States is making a gigantic investment in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, billed by its advocates as the next — by their count the fifth — generatio…n of air-to-air and air-to-ground combat aircraft. Claimed to be near invisible to radar and able to dominate any future battlefield, the F-…

The “challenge” was thrown down because he perceives I am against any cuts in defense spending, ever (I point out to him that this is an erroneous assumption).  He gets to point to cost overruns and development problems during the R&D phase of a new weapon and snark, “We need this, why?”

And I have to talk about pros and cons.  Which is much less fun to read or to repeat.  But here it is:

If you look carefully back on everything I’ve said in the past about cutting defense spending, you’ll not find one place where I said I was unilaterally against it, especially where waste and fraud are concerned.

What I am against is cutting defense spending just because it’s defense spending and it’s n% of the budget or the GDP or that it’s more than the GDP of some country or that it’s designed [duh] to kill. What I have said is at least it is one of the enumerated powers of the Federal Government, and it isn’t where I would look first. But show me waste and fraud, and I’ll be right there with you voting for the axe.

Now … do we need this plane?

From what I’ve read, it would be a plane that would be nice to have, except for the fact that it doesn’t exist. This article makes it sound like it is never going to exist, and it may be right, I don’t know.

A half-billion per plane indeed sounds shockingly ludicrous if that is in fact what they’ll end up costing — which the article indicates could well be the case (right now they’re figuring the $161 million will likely triple, in part because it thinks we won’t buy as many of them which will up the R&D cost per plane). I would hate to watch as one of them malfunctions and crashes, or gets shot down … seeing a half billion literally go up in smoke.

On the other hand, I’d like to see it compared (inflation-adjusted) to the R&D phases of the F-16’s and F-22’s they are being built to replace as well as the handy B-2 “Stealth” — I imagine they were fraught with cost overruns and problems as well and there were probably articles written about what a waste of money they were and that they’d never live up to expectations.

There is some irony in watching people who crow about all of the tangential technological advances that have come out of R&D that happened to be Government funded (both in military and space programs) as an argument to why Government spending is superior to private-sector spending suddenly get all wobbly-kneed when it comes to defense. Wasn’t it Paul Krugman who in the past couple of years suggested with a straight face that preparing for a Mars Invasion that everybody knows isn’t coming would produce a massive economic boom? What if these fighters could fight off Martians? Sounds like they’d be better able to do it than F-22’s, at least, and what difference does it make anyway since Paul’s premise included the knowledge that the Martians would never come and it was the spending that mattered?

That all being said, since I disagree vehemently with Mr. Krugman on stimulus spending … can we get by with F-22’s for now — and by that I mean, could we buy 2,500 new f-22’s to replace the old planes for a lot less? Yeah, I think that should be looked at. But I don’t have all of the arguments pro and con available to me immediately to make an informed decision on it this morning.

One thought on “10% Facts, 90% Snark

  1. What I am against is cutting defense spending just because it’s defense spending and it’s n% of the budget or the GDP or that it’s more than the GDP of some country or that it’s designed [duh] to kill. What I have said is at least it is one of the enumerated powers of the Federal Government, and it isn’t where I would look first. But show me waste and fraud, and I’ll be right there with you voting for the axe.

    This, to me, is the heart of the matter. I fail to understand why – whenever the subject of cutting federal spending comes up – someone (excuse me, some liberal) always has to mention the military. We have to hear about how the US spends more than the next five countries put together, or how many people we could feed for what an F-22 (or even an M1 Abrams tank) costs, and isn’t it time we started putting aside these weapons of war and talking about our differences with our enemies, anyway?

    It makes me sick. You’ve already beaten me to the Constitutional part of it, so I’ll simply add that the US, unlike most other countries, has enormous defense commitments. Last I checked, we’re the last superpower, and there are a couple of other pretenders to the title who’d love to knock us off our perch…and keeping the military equipped with the latest technology and best weaponry available is essential to making sure that hostile countries don’t get any ideas. It’s also imperative to make sure that the US Armed Forces have the capability to respond quickly (and decisively) to a crisis anywhere in the world. We aren’t Sweden or Brazil or Greece…the world looks to us to provide leadership. Even the mighty UK didn’t want to go after a pipsqueak like Gha-Daffy without our help.

    I also think R&D is an important part of that picture. China is working on modernizing its armed forces as we speak, doing everything it can to close the technological gap between itself and the United States. Right now, that’s the only thing keeping that country at bay. As soon as it thinks it is strong enough to take us on, it’s going to attack….at least start a small war over Taiwan. The Pentagon has an estimate that such a conflict will take place sometime in the 2030s. The point is that it’s important that our defense industries be doing everything they can to stay ahead of our rivals and enemies.

    All that said, it has always bothered me that the US has only 187 F22s, when we were originally supposed to buy something like 450 of them. The F22 Raptor is still the world’s premier air-superiority combat aircraft, more than capable of knocking anything with wings out of the sky. I’ve wondered if we wouldn’t be better off setting the F35 program aside for now and resuming F22 production while we work the bugs out of the new aircraft.

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