Letter: More support can be tapped to reject Raytheon

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Thank you for that informative and mostly balanced Mark Barrett article about Buncombe’s new Pratt & Whitney/Raytheon F-35-parts factory [“Controversial Choices: Debating the Pratt & Whitney Project,” Jan. 20, Xpress]. However, there were areas where Mr. Barrett’s reporting was not so balanced. They include:

1. His conclusion that “opposition appears to be well short of the numbers that would be needed to persuade [county] commissioners to change course.” Yet Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Tulsi Gabbard got over 55% of the vote in the Buncombe County Democratic primary in 2020, according to USA Today, and those candidates all wanted to drastically cut the military budget. This would have likely included the $1.5 trillion F-35 program.

So many of those voters, [34,461] to be exact, could be possible recruits by the Reject Raytheon Coalition. There’s no great hurry to mobilize them because the plant can be stopped at any time in its construction or production, and county commissioners can be voted out of office every two to four years.

2. Mr. Barrett cites Buncombe County Board of Commissioners Chair Brownie Newman’s contention “that rejecting the plant would have no ‘direct bearing’ on military spending,” yet doesn’t provide an alternative perspective. The national Democratic Party has a strong minority that’s in favor of drastically cutting the military budget as is proven by the 34% of its voters supporting Sanders, Warren or Gabbard in the overall Democratic primary totals. A Gallup poll conducted in February 2020 reports that 51% of Democrats think that the U.S. spends too much on defense.

Buncombe’s rejection of the Raytheon plant would add power to this movement — especially if it could garner coverage by the national media. If for some reason, the Reject Raytheon Coalition is unable to mobilize the tens of thousands of Sanders/Warren/Gabbard voters in Buncombe County, there’s still one saving grace. As Mr. Barrett points out, only 20% of the plant production will be used to make the F-35 parts.

Does that mean that if America uses our F-35 parts on one of the planes to fight unnecessary or immoral wars, we Buncombe citizens will only be 20% responsible for the carnage? Keep in mind that 20% of anything harmful is still 100% harmful.

— Lorrie Streifel

Editor’s note: We always appreciate receiving feedback from our readers. Regarding the points raised in the letter, writer Mark Barrett offers this response: “It is speculative to say support for Sanders, Warren and Gabbard will translate into county residents persuading commissioners to withdraw their welcome of Pratt & Whitney, which would involve reneging on an agreement to provide incentives. Omitting their vote totals in the Democratic primary does not indicate a lack of balance. Even one of the opponents said in the story he thinks the incentives are ‘a done deal.’

“The story does not explore the consequences of possible national media coverage of a change in stance by commissioners. It does provide an alternative perspective to Newman’s by quoting plant opponents as saying the commissioners’ vote bolsters the military-industrial complex, explaining why they believe that and why they object.”


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8 thoughts on “Letter: More support can be tapped to reject Raytheon

  1. Dopamina

    That editor’s note rubs me the wrong way. A reader takes the time to present a nuanced rebuttal to an article and the editors go out of their way to provide the original author a soapbox to tell said reader why they are wrong.

    Not to mention, being placed at the end of the article gives the original author the last word and will naturally resonate with readers, as that was the last thing they heard about the topic.

    Perhaps the same kind of rebuttals can be included in future articles in favor of the plant? Don’t want to look biased in favor of anything if your job is to report the news…

  2. bsummers

    There’s no great hurry to mobilize them because the plant can be stopped at any time in its construction or production

    Umm, I’m not sure that’s exactly right.

  3. blueridgeguvnor

    The wisest know what battles to pick, and this ain’t one of them.

    60s Idealism vs. Modern Municipal Tax Based reality not gonna come out the way you want it

    • barry shoor

      Agreed! The $$$s and jobs generated here are a great value for the people of our city and county. Bleeding hearts have never been practical but that’s ok too. Unfortunately not being practical doesn’t impact them directly One day it will then the bitterness sweeps in SAD!

      • Local Grandad

        Agreed. These arguments are tone deaf and a bit privileged. Let’s put the needs of our poor and working families first. These are badly needed jobs in WNC.

  4. DreadT

    In 2018, USA was responsible for 36% of the global military spending. That’s 648.8 BILLION dollars.
    In 2019, it went up to 732 BILLION dollars. We spend more money on defense than the next 10 countries in the world combined!
    Saudi Arabia
    South Korea
    Together they spent less than we did, at a total of 726 BILLION.

    This says a lot abut who we are, our priorities as a country and how the rest of the world views us.

  5. Cathy K.

    How much is it costing taxpayers over the short and long term for the new facility that ABTech is building to train employees for this company? Why isn’t the existing, partly unused ABTech Enka campus which is a short distance away being used for this? Wasn’t ABTech in the news in the past year or so requesting more money due a budget shortfall, with possible cuts, and with ongoing facility cost concerns? What is ABTech’s enrollment and financial position when many higher education institutions are faced with downturns? With the taxpayer as a stakeholder in these entities, it would seem responsible to keep the public apprised of the decision making.

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