Monday, March 10, 2008

Boeing Boing!

Years ago when overseas one of my colleagues was a graduate from Embry Riddle University. We traveled to Africa once and I remember him referring to the Boeing planes we rode on as "Boings" an obvious play on words.

However, Boeing of late is the focus of political angst. The Air Force just sealed a deal with Airbus (the European airline manufacturing consortium) to build replacements for the USAF's aging in-air plane refueling fleet.

I recently received e-mail about this:
Recently a contract to build a tanker for our airforce (35 billion dollars) was awarded to a company in FRANCE! I dunno, but it seems to me that there are quite a few working US citizens who would benefit from doing the work that the defense department wants to send to France. Our corporations outsource jobs, businesses over-use H-1b visas and do not hire citizens, we have a huge trade deficit... I could go on and on.
E-Mail from a known but unnamed sender
In fact, the Democrats are jumping on this too, pinning it all on – John McCain. However, people should not forget that not too long ago Boeing was caught trying to ripoff the American taxpayer in a deal to...replace the tanker fleet.

David Freddoso at National Review Online has the details:
In 2001, the United States Air Force wanted to begin replacing 500 of its aging refueling planes. The plan began with a sweetheart deal, buried in the fine print of the 2002 defense-authorization bill. The Air Force was to lease 100 Boeing fuel tankers at a cost of $26 billion — $6 billion more than the cost of buying them outright, according to an estimate by the White House Office of Management and Budget.

If that sounds like a bad deal, it’s because it was. It never occurred, thanks to loud and persistent protests from Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.). And now that McCain is a candidate for president and Boeing’s rival has won the contract, Democrats are effectively complaining that he didn’t let Boeing rip off the taxpayers.


When McCain finally received the e-mails, the Boeing tanker deal exploded. The investigation revealed malfeasance, resulting in a $615 million fine for the company. Boeing’s CEO, Phil Condit, was forced to resign. The company’s CFO was sent to prison. Darleen Druyun, who had served as the second-ranking civilian official for Air Force procurement, also went to prison. She pled guilty in 2004 to steering the tanker contract and other deals toward Boeing in the hopes of later securing lucrative jobs with the company for herself and her family members.
Source: A Good Deal of Credit to McCain for Stopping a Bad Deal (Boeing and blame.) by David Freddoso
Essentially, Boeing was attempting to ripoff the taxpayers and is now attempting to use its status as a domestic corporation to let it get away with this bad behavior. Now, the e-mail I have brings up the usual points about jobs going overseas but Mr. Freddoso notes most of the work of constructing the planes will take place here in the USA.

What is interesting though, is those who normally whine about how American Corporations abuse the taxpayer and the people are now leaping to Boeing's defense or more accurately are using this case to beat up on John McCain. You see John McCain sniffed out the putrid deal and put an end to it. I am all for having American companies do this work, but they should not feel so entitled to it they think they can grossly and corruptly overcharge for the work and product.

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