The War Industry: Bad Job Creators, Bad Bosses, Bad Stewards of Tax Dollars

As budget cuts come to the fore, military contractors will undoubtedly try to obscure the fact that every $1 billion of military spending costs anywhere between 3,200 and 11,700 jobs or more when compared to other ways of spending the money.
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On Tuesday, the military contractors behind the "Second To None" campaign pleaded "no comment" to our War Costs campaign's full-page Politico ad exposing the economic damage caused by massive war budgets. The same day, they announced a press conference and the upcoming launch of a national campaign to scare people about job losses if we cut the war budget. It seems like they had a comment or two after all. But as these companies gather at the National Press Club on Wednesday morning to frighten you into funding their trust funds, remember: military spending costs us jobs compared to other ways of spending the money.

These contractors will undoubtedly try to obscure the fact that every $1 billion of military spending costs anywhere between 3,200 and 11,700 jobs or more when compared to other ways of spending the money. They'll probably also try to obscure the fact that because the deficit committee has to find spending reductions equaling a certain dollar amount, this is a zero sum game, pitting military spending against the exact kinds of spending that would create more jobs. If the industry is right, and we should be coming at the question of where to cut spending from the perspective of job creation, then we have to cut war spending because other cuts would cost even more jobs.

Reporters should also keep in mind that these folks have a history of fudging jobs numbers when they feel it's expedient for their profit margins. For example, back when Second-To-None-backer Lockheed Martin was trying to secure additional taxpayer dollars for its F-22 fighter jet in 2009, the contractor grossly inflated the number of jobs sustained by the program. The actual job numbers should have been less than 40 percent of those claimed by Lockheed. When this industry comes at you with jobs numbers, caveat emptor.

All this assumes, of course, that we buy the war industry's spin that for them, it's all about the workers. If one looks at these companies' histories, that's an absurd assumption. The organization through which the industry organized the Second To None campaign, the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), includes on its executive committee representatives of companies which have paid more than $130 million in labor-related fines and settlements in the last 10 years, according to the Project on Government Oversight's contractor misconduct database. These violations include sexual harassment; Americans with Disabilities Act actions; federal safety standards violations; wrongful termination; age, sex and racial discrimination; and whistleblower retaliation.

Almost all of the above war industry misbehavior takes place on the government dime, of which the companies behind Second To None and AIA are very, very poor stewards. Their leadership [.pdf] includes executives at three of the companies cited by the recent Wartime Commission on Contracting's eye-popping report [.pdf] on the waste of $60 billion: DynCorp, ITT Corporation and L-3 Communications (The report discusses "ITT Federal Services," which is a subsidiary of ITT Corp.). In addition, the companies represented on AIA's executive committee have been responsible for a bucket-load of documented misconduct in federal contracting worth more than $5.7 billion since 1995, according to POGO's database.

We're having a hard time here understanding why we should look to the corporations behind Second To None to hire workers or spend our hard-earned money. Maybe they'd like to comment about that.

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