By Ben Sclair
We are all encouraged to “Write Congress” to support [fill in the cause here] from time to time. Often, the intention of the person seeking help is honorable.
A post I just read on the Facebook page of Kyle Franklin from Franklin’s Flying Circus is a good example. It is a plea with the best of intentions:
“PLEASE SHARE! Airshows need your help! I’m not sure how many of you have heard about the latest possible budget cuts to the U.S. military. But it is really starting to look like the U.S. government is going to cut funding for the Blue Angels, Thunderbirds and possibly all military involvement with airshows. This attached link to the International Council of Airshows (ICAS) explains some of it, but from what I’m hearing from my sources, things are really looking bad. If these cuts do go through, there will be no military static displays at airshows, no demonstration teams, no Blue Angels, no Thunderbirds, and possibly military base airshows will be canceled. I have already heard from several shows that if they lose their jet team they will cancel their show.
“For a lot of us, airshows are a way of life and to see the industry crash like this would be devastating to fans, performers, the U.S. military and the U.S. economy.
“In a recent letter from ICAS they are asking for ICAS members to send letters to their state representatives to try to stop these cuts. I believe it should be more than just ICAS members sending these letters so the politicians know how important airshows are to all of us! I’m asking all of you airshow fans to send letters to your state representatives telling them how important airshows and the U.S. military involvement in them is to you.
“I don’t believe they realize how important and inspiring it is for people to go to airshows. How many of you have learned to fly or join the military because of going to an airshow? I and the airshow industry thank you for all your years of support and hope it will continue.”
Kyle’s words are heartfelt. I applaud him for stepping up and speaking his heart to his more than 8,000 Facebook fans, but the airshow business is Kyle’s livelihood. For that reason, I fear it is hard for Kyle, in this case, to be objective.
One line from Kyle’s message stands out to me: “For a lot of us, airshows are a way of life and to see the industry crash like this would be devastating to fans, performers, the U.S. military, and the U.S. economy.” Devastating? Hmmm.
The U.S. will spend $3.655 trillion and receive $2.882 trillion in fiscal year 2013, according to the Fiscal Year 2013 Budget of the U.S. Government (page 208). That is a $772 billion deficit. The deficit improves slightly in 2014 ($662 billion), then climbs each year through 2022. The Office of Management and Budget forecasts 2013-2022 aggregate deficits to surpass $8.6 trillion.
Kyle also says, “I’m asking all of you airshow fans to send letters to your state representatives telling them how important airshows and the U.S. military involvement in them is to you.”
Where does “U.S. military involvement” in airshows rank in the overall picture of defense spending? What about in the context of massive government deficits?
My point: Context is crucial. The population of the United States is more than 310 million. Everyone holds causes that are important to them. How will the United States move forward, financially, if every cause important to someone is saved from the budget axe?
Can anyone point me toward a government agency that has turned money back to the treasury and asked for future budgets to be reduced accordingly? I’m sure it’s happened, but not very often.
Kyle, I agree that “U.S. military involvement” in airshows is important. And while I enjoy watching the Thunderbirds, Blue Angels, and F-22 demonstrations, I can’t help but think of costs in the context of our budget deficit.
Will our country be weaker if the Thunderbirds stop performing around the country? What does an Air Force without a strong marketing outreach campaign — which is, after all, the role of the Thunderbirds — look like in 10 or 20 years? I haven’t a clue.
But what does a country with crippling, and growing debt, look like in 10 or 20 years?
Of the two, I’ll take my chances on our country surviving without the Thunderbirds.