Central View: Canceled air shows: Penny-wise, pound foolish
Ryan Summerlin March 27, 2013
The reason sequestration has not ended the civilized world is because the so-called budget cuts do not actually take place until the end of this fiscal year.
You see, everything the federal government was budgeted to do in this fiscal year is already in this fiscal year’s budget. But yes, the overall rate-of-government-growth will be cut by about 2.8 percent.
Meanwhile, some politicians want to scare the public into supporting tax increases by shutting down programs such as: White House tours, our national monuments, and by canceling aerial demonstrations by the Navy Blue Angels and the Air Force Thunderbirds.
For the over 70 communities where either the Blues or the T-birds perform each year, these cancellations mean far fewer tourism dollars and tax revenues. For Pensacola, Fla., a Blue Angels show means a $2.4 million boost to the local economy. When the Thunderbirds appear at Edwards Air Force Base, over 250,000 aviation enthusiasts flock to see it. At the Indianapolis Air Show, the Blue Angels raise attendance by 20 percent. Seattle’s Lake Washington air show attracts over 1 million spectators.
For exciting young people about military service, the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds are marvelous recruiting tools. For those already serving, the teams are a tremendous source of pride and an inspiration toward their own pursuit of excellence.
If you have witnessed the Blues or the T-birds you know you have seen the world’s best pilots flying the world’s best fighter aircraft, performing the world’s most daring and highly complex maneuvers. For the American taxpayer such demonstrated excellence reveals one area at least where their investments are not being wasted.
Be aware that the Blues and the T-birds are watched by far more than just the American public. All the air attaches and intelligence services of hostile nations focus on the flying skills of the pilots and on the performance of their aircraft. The deterrent effect of the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds should never be underestimated. What potential enemy pilot in his right mind would want to try to match flying skills against a military that can produce the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds?
By the same token, when our allies witness the flawless maneuvers of the Blues and the T-birds, they take heart that they have allied themselves on the right side of military might. And, if you have ever seen a demonstration put on by South Korea’s aerial demonstration team, the Black Eagles, you know the Black Eagles must be scaring the living kimchi out of the pilots of North Korea and Red China.
Yes, there are places where some real budget cutting is needed. For example, should the National Institutes of Health be spending $2.6 million to study the drinking habits of Chinese prostitutes? Do we need to spend $1.5 million to study why 75 percent of lesbians are obese? Maybe we need a study on how to invent common sense.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.