Will President Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan impact Buncombe County’s new Pratt & Whitney plant? Will it cause job cuts in the 20% of the plant that makes airfoils for America’s stunningly preeminent jet fighter, the F-35 Lightning?
The withdrawal may also result in job cuts in the defense plants already in Buncombe County: Kearfott, General Electric and Epsilon. In fact, the website governmentcontractswon.com states that between 2000 and 2019 (thus, not including the P&W plant), Buncombe County jobs benefited from defense contracts worth $523,288,503. The livelihoods of many of our families depend on the robustness of the market for F-35s and other military weapons.
Buncombe’s defense market includes the Israelis, who have already received 26 Lightnings, ordered an additional 50 and plan to order 70 more. The recent Israeli-Palestinian fracas seemed hopeful, but no other countries intervened, and the Palestinians’ weapons are far too primitive to shoot down F-35s. So that war will not help Buncombe’s F-35 industry.
Then there’s the United Arab Emirates, which has ordered 50 Lightnings, though the deal’s congressional approval is still pending. Tell our congressman, Madison Cawthorn, to get it approved!
Is it possible that the UAE will renege on the Abraham Accords, the deal’s diplomatic component, in which they pledged peaceful coexistence with Israel? Yes! And then maybe UAE and Israel will go to war, get into Lightning dogfights that destroy F-35s, and order the replacement jets that will increase our available jobs. Buncombe County cannot afford peace in the Middle East!
Of course, what Buncombe’s economy really needs is an extended donnybrook with some nefarious superpower such as Russia or China. After all, the highly adaptable Lightnings are equipped to carry B61 nuclear bombs. Such a contest would ensure our defense jobs for the foreseeable future. Write Secretary of State Blinken.
And don’t forget the juiciest job bonanza of all: World War III. Should Buncombe County citizens lobby for it? Yes! Wait. No! That’s too dangerous, even for audacious us.
A local threat to our defense jobs are the 53% of Buncombe Democrats who voted in the 2020 Presidential Democratic primary for defense-budget slashers Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Tulsi Gabbard. Tell them the defense budget is never big enough.
Another threat is the Reject Raytheon Coalition — Raytheon being the parent company of P&W. Some of the RRC believe the F-35 plant may be the vanguard of a deluge of new defense industries for Buncombe County. They’re holding biweekly demonstrations opposing this, as well as to halt the building of the P&W plant. Encourage your state representatives to enact anti-demonstration laws like those in Florida and elsewhere.
Then there are some waffling county commissioners. For instance, although Buncombe County Board of Commissioners Chairman Brownie Newman voted in favor of the plant, he stated in the Asheville Citizen Times that the U.S. “has gotten involved in different conflicts around the world that we shouldn’t have gotten involved in.” Tell him that America should have gotten involved in all those conflicts, as well as any future conflicts.
Commissioner and congressional candidate Jasmine Beach-Ferrara voted in favor of the Lightning plant also, but she calls herself a preacher of the “gospel of peace.” Does that mean she’s a potential peacenik? Preach her the Gospel of War. Buncombe County can no longer afford peace on Earth.
— Bill Branyon