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Waste, Fraud and Deceit – Tax Dollars at Work

Posted on April 24, 2024, by Mary Ann McGivern SL

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The F-35 fighter plane seemed like a great idea at its inception. The Air Force had its own plane, the F-15 which was agile (could fly straight up for a mile), could fly long distances (from the U.S. to Russia) and could carry heavy payloads (lots of bombs). The Navy had its own plane, the F-18 which was light enough to land on an aircraft carrier — so it didn’t need to fly long distances. The Marines, a light and agile force themselves, relied on helicopters and the Harrier, an airplane that could fly long-enough distances and carry bombs and could drop down to a landing spot on a very short runway.

The intent of the F-35 fighter was to replace them all with one plane. The F-35, which has already cost more than half a trillion dollars, can’t fly as far or carry as much weight as the F-15 because it has to be light enough to land on aircraft carriers and short Marine-built runways. But it’s not so good at short landings. And its very high-tech equipment often fails. It’s grounded frequently, and anyway it is so expensive commanders are reluctant to use it – even if they liked it, which they don’t. 

The F-15, F-18 and Harrier are still in use by our services and by all the other countries we’ve sold them to. Potential enemies have them. But it would be a simple matter to withhold parts and maintenance services, clawing their use back to the United States.

What is not a simple matter is shutting down a weapon system. It isn’t even any more that the plane is built in a lot of Congressional districts. Five or 10 districts make parts – and they don’t employ that many workers. Rather, it’s that cutting the Pentagon budget is viewed as unpatriotic.

Arms researcher Bill Hartung writes that “The Pentagon puts out more each year for one combat aircraft — the overpriced, underperforming F-35 — than the entire budget of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (The Nation, 2/29/24).” The CDC budget, by the way, is $11.5 billion. 

We need to talk with our friends and family about the military budget, including the money wasted on the F-35. And by the way, nuclear weapons are another production cost we could cut.


Mary Ann McGivern SL

Mary Ann recently moved from St. Louis to the Loretto Motherhouse in Kentucky. She is searching for entry points into Marian County, Ky., civic life — funding the day care center, improving jail services, helping stop a pipeline through Bernheim Forest. She is on the roster of homilists at Loretto Chapel’s Sunday Communion service. Mary Ann has been a Sister of Loretto since 1960.
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