The Passing of a Generation
4/30/11 A Perspective on the Evolving Global Marketplace by Ed Timperlake and Robbin Laird
American Labor Unions are in a self inflicted “Hurt Locker.” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0887912/).With the actuarial tables taking the sad but inevitable final toll on the men and women identified as “The Greatest Generation,” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greatest_Generation) a significant demographic shift has occurred.
With the decline of the American industrial base and the rise of public sector unions a significant force in American politics has shifted focus. There was an old saying that with their solid pro-military conservative principles union members would vote their “American Legion Card over their Union Card.” The demographics were simple approximately 16 Million Americans served in uniform during WW II and returned to build America into a truly amazing industrial colossus. Clint Eastwood understood this perfectly in his brilliant movie “Gran Toreino. (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1205489/).
In the nineteen nineties the late Chairman Gerald Solomon of House Rules Committee tried to stand up against the PRC unlawful rise to power and influence in America. Huge money to think tanks and lobbyist were aligned against him. To compound the problem, bribes, graft, sweetheart deals, and favorable export policies tilting to China were aided and abetted by a squishy middle. There was and still is a “trade uber allis” group of Republicans and Democrats. But, this huge force had a counter balancing power— American Industrial Unions. What was not much commented on in those days was Chairman Solomon was a strong friend of organized labor.
His mature balance of both protecting American National Security and the America worker was extremely skillful. His legislative prowess as the Chairman of the most powerful Committee in the House was legendary. He set up both “The Cox Committee” on uncovering Chinese Espionage (http://www.sldinfo.com/?p=17754) and ran the impeachment inquiry. The fact impeachment issues went off on a “Monigate” tangent was not his fault. The Chairman only wanted to only focus on illegal money transactions but was overruled by the Speaker. In those days when China tried to buy their way into the American political process one of Chairman Solomon’s strongest allies against such activities was the AFL/CIO.
Now everything is rapidly changing because the Union movement is myopic and their membership base is much more domestically focused in protecting public sector employees. There are several huge examples of this stumbling and bumbling with huge miscalculations.
America still dominates the cutting edge fighter world — the F-22 and F-35 prove that point. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery the Russian TF-50 (think F-22ski) and the PLAAF J-20 “Annihilator” (think target) were rolled out to the surprise of Secretary Gates and President Obama, who actually called the F-22 outdated. With the F-22 line prematurely ended at 187 and thus no hope for an export version, the spiking of the F-22 will mean the significant loss of jobs.
Concurrently, there has been little active support of the F-35 as “coast weenies” drive that debate. In fact, there has been active opposition as some try to cling to an aircraft (the F/A-18) that had had its’ outstanding day in the sun. But this mindset is showing Unions are now leveraging the past not the future.
What has not been strongly recognized is that the 5th Generation F-35 has huge untapped and unrecognized combat performance capabilities that will dominate the global TacAir market for decades. This will be re-enforced as the F-35 networks with Unmanned Aerial Systems, Robots and Navy fleet radar and missiles AND allies.
Instead to use the DOD phrase “leaning forward,” the Union movement is leaning backward to focus on aging 4th Generation legacy aircraft, F-16, F-15 and especially F-18. And they are doing that badly. This is understandable but extremely short sighted and eventually a huge disaster waiting to happen.
The beginning of America losing market share in world wide tactical aviation has been recently seen by India throwing out any consideration of American 4th Gen aircraft in favor of newer European models.
This is the loss of billions. Another huge buy of F/A-18s is in play in Brazil while senior Union leadership is going out of their way to trash a Brazilian Combat proven aircraft the Super Tucano because it might conflict with a non-combat certified derivative of the T-6 trainer. (http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/labor/155497-do-not-hand-american-job-opportunities-to-brazil).
Myopia from some Union leaders is personified by those who fail to grasp the potential of losing billions in a Brazil F/A-18 deal in order to spike a 20 plane light attack American purchase. Apparently, they do not understand the Super Tucano will be configured in America (Florida) by American workers.
So as teacher unions capture the headlines and service workers drive the debate, American industrial union leadership need to realize they must fight inside their Union halls and meetings to keep an intelligent, balanced and visionary focus on National Security. It is good for America and will be good for them.
The easiest way to do that is to embrace and fight for 5th Gen American revolutionary technology, the F-22 (tragically that battle is almost flat lined) and F-35 and then there then will be a resurgence of industrial America for decades to come.
The choice is to support the equities and interests of the American worker and national security capabilities or myopic protection of vested interests and see the U.S.’s ability to influence global events shrink.
(For an update of this issue see