Bread and Circuses: The F-35 Buzzes Over Chicago

Jared Labell is executive director of Taxpayers United of America (TUA), a
nonpartisan, 501(c)(4) taxpayer advocacy group. Founded in Chicago, Illinois
in 1976 by activist and economist Jim Tobin, TUA works on behalf of taxpayers
to reduce local, state, and federal taxes. Labell’s work has appeared on ABC,
CBS, NBC, and Fox television, WBBM and WBEZ radio, and published in the Chicago
Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, other various newspapers, and the Future of Freedom
Foundation.

If the city of Chicago were a house, the State would have condemned it as blighted
property long ago, bulldozing its rotten wood and crumbling concrete structure
into a pile fit for a funeral pyre. Chicago hasn’t been condemned yet, despite
the city’s abundance of bureaucrats, infamous history of government corruption
and violence wrought upon its residents, and its atrocious financial standing.
Chicago remains a dilapidated house, but one that’s on the verge of burning
down in a self-inflicted
economic arson fire
.

With that in mind, the city will begin to close out the summer this weekend
with the 58th
Annual Chicago Air and Water Show
on Saturday August 20th and
Sunday August 21st along North Avenue Beach. Similar to the bread
and circuses of empires past, Chicago annually distracts taxpayers with big,
shiny objects to take their minds off of the political and economic failures
of their government. This year’s free event is no different, as festivities
are draped in the flag and promoted
heavily with food, drinks, and fun for the entire family. Among other participants
and aircraft featured in the event, the centerpiece of the show this year is
the rollout of the notorious F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.

Corporate sponsors Shell
and Boeing
, as well as media outlets like WBBM Newsradio, ABC 7 television,
and The Chicago Tribune, help underwrite the cost of the show, making it free
for the public’s enjoyment. But don’t thank these sponsors for the free entertainment
just yet, because nothing is free, and when the F-35 is involved, rest assured
that taxpayers are picking up the tab, one way or another.

Just a few weeks ago, Antiwar.com published my synopsis of the F-35 program
–  I’m
Paying Taxes, But What Am I Buying?
– which detailed the $400 billion jet’s
beleaguered history of cost overruns, operational fiascoes, and the opportunity
costs of maintaining a weapons system that’s projected to incinerate trillions
of dollars from US taxpayers throughout the estimated duration of its production
and deployment lifecycle.

The Straus Military Reform Project, part of the Project on Government Oversight’s
Center for Defense Information, offers another detailed
rundown
of the most expensive weapons system in history. Readers are encouraged
to become well-acquainted with…

Read more