Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Pride and Joy of General Dynamics or Having A Moral Crisis At The National Air and Space Museum

When we lived in Lawrence, Kansas, I worked as a federal contractor for a company called Vangent. They did a whole bunch of different things for the federal government from helping people fill out the federal financial aid application to answering the phone when someone called 1-800-MEDICARE. A couple years into working there, the company was purchased by defense contractor General Dynamics who was looking to expand their contracts with the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services. 

General Dynamics (along with being the inspiration for the evil company Massive Dynamic in the TV show Fringe) is best known for building the F-16 jet fighter made famous in the movie Top Gun. So during our recent visit to the National Air and Space Museum I wasn't too surprised to see General Dynamic painted on the side of one of the exhibits...

...I just wasn't expecting it to be on the side of a Tomahawk missile!

The Tomahawk was introduced in 1983 and continues to be made and used today. It has been used in the first and second Gulf War and has blown up such places as Serbia, Somalia, Libya, and Syria. Basically, if the U.S. decides to bomb someone, the Tomahawk missile is probably going to be used. Each missile costs about $1.5 million dollars and it is said that the Navy has about 3,500 missiles putting the value around $5.2 billion dollars.

Although the band Coldplay isn't exactly exactly known for their political songs, I've frequently thought about the lyrics of "Clocks" that asks the question "Am I a part of the cure? /Or am I part of the disease?" As an employee of General Dynamics, do I share in the moral and ethical issues surrounding the creation and use of a weapon of war? Do I have more culpability for the actions of General Dynamics than a regular U.S. citizen because I received a paycheck from them? These are the sort of questions you wrestle with at 2 a.m. when you ponder the question "am I a good person?"

But in the end, perhaps the Simpsons give me the answer as to how most people, including myself, deal with these deeper questions about themselves and the actions of our government.

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