COMMENTARY | NATIONAL PRIORITIES | THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMM.
This picture and quote is from Sploid Magazine:
“We’re not preparing to fight the aliens. This isn’t a scene from Independence Day 2. It’s just a throwback photo of 25—yes, twenty five—Lockheed F-117A Nighthawk black stealth fighter jets celebrating its 25th anniversary back in 2006. What a beautifully intimidating celebration of power it was.
According to The Aviationist, the jets flew over Heritage Park at Holloman Air Force Base. Code One Magazine recently put up the photo taken by Denny Lombard for Lockheed Martin on its Facebook page.”
Then I wondered…
How much this display of airpower cost? Exactly what does a stealth bomber go for these days? So I turned to everyone’s favorite information resource, Wikipedia. Wikipedia reveals the cost of the Lockheed F-117A Nighthawk to be a cool $112 million dollars average cost, not including weapons payload or fuel costs…
|Role||Stealth attack aircraft|
|National origin||United States|
|First flight||18 June 1981|
|Retired||22 April 2008|
|Primary user||United States Air Force|
|Number built||64 (5 YF-117As, 59 F-117As)|
|Unit cost||US$42.6 million (flyaway cost)
US$111.2 million (average cost)
|Developed from||Lockheed Have Blue|
 Aronstein and Piccirillo 1997, p. 267.
From the same Wikipedia article we see this nice picture of some OTHER F-117A Nighthawks on the ground in 1983 give or take…
F-117A aircraft from the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing at Langley AFB, Virginia, prior to being deployed to Saudi Arabia for Operation Desert Shield.
What you are seeing is an average of $27 billion dollars flying overhead. Another $27 billion or so sitting on the ground, and let’s just overlook research and development costs (I could probably find it, but it would certainly be VERY expensive and not necessary for you to get my point.)
Gets your patriotism fires burning, doesn’t it?
Now let’s merge this with another news article and see if your patriotism is still stoked…
From the Atlantic Magazine 2014 – Here’s Exactly How Much the Government Would Have to Spend to Make Public College Tuition-Free:
“A mere $62.6 billion dollars!
According to new Department of Education data, that’s how much tuition public colleges collected from undergraduates in 2012 across the entire United States. And I’m not being facetious with the word mere, either. The New America Foundation says that the federal government spent a whole $69 billion in 2013 on its hodgepodge of financial aid programs, such as Pell Grants for low-income students, tax breaks, work study funding. And that doesn’t even include loans.
If we were we scrapping our current system and starting from scratch, Washington could make public college tuition free with the money it sets aside its scattershot attempts to make college affordable today.”
Update—Friday Jan. 3, 3:45 PM: Just to clarify, because some readers have asked, making tuition free in 2012 would have required $62.6 billion on top of what state and local governments already spend subsidizing public colleges, as well as some of the federal spending that doesn’t go towards financial aid. Again, you can find a detailed breakdown of how our colleges are funded in theDepartment of Education’s data.
For anybody interested in reading more about the idea of making public college tuition free, and the vast array of economic considerations that would entail, here’s a lengthy piece I wrote last year.
Update—Friday Jan. 3, 4:31 PM: One more update to answer another good question I’ve received. Technically, you could say the additional cost of making college tuition free would be even cheaper than $62.6 billion. How come? Because most Pell Grant money is already spent at public colleges. In 2011 – 2012, state school students received $21.8 billion in grants. So, if you subtract that from the total needed to completely eliminate tuition, it the sum would be closer to $40 billion. (Apologies for not teasing that point out earlier. I’d noted it in a previous article and didn’t think to repeat it.)
So what have we learned?
For the cost of 50 stealth bombers, we could send every American who wanted it to college for no expense to the student! Imagine what we could do with the rest of the military industrial complex’s expense budget…Remember, these bombers aren’t the only thing the military produces.