Boeing is one of the US’s top 10 corporate lobbyists, contributing to Democrats and Republicans alike.
By Will Hutton
The Guardian (4/7/19)
America First nationalism, indulgent free market economics, Republican libertarianism and a political system in hock to corporate lobbying has just contributed to killing 356 innocent people. The more we know about the crashes of Boeing 737 Max 8 planes in Indonesia and Ethiopia – after anti-stalling devices locked both aircraft into unrecoverable nose-dives – the more shocking the story becomes.
The Federal Aviation Authority has an enviable technical reputation, but over the past decade it has suffered from successive budget cuts and government shutdowns as the Republican party has waged war on federal spending and federal agencies.
It is not just Boeing, a once magnificent company, that is being condemned – it is the US’s wider economic, political and regulatory structures. What is not required is a short-term software fix on the faulty MCAS system that automatically adjusts the plane’s flight trajectory, along with an improved safety manual and training for pilots, which is Boeing’s response so far. What is needed is a root-and-branch overhaul of the intersection between capitalism and democracy in the US. The current set-up – and the accompanying libertarian, anti-state, anti-regulation philosophy – literally kills people.
Deadly short cut
The story begins in 2011. Europe’s new Airbus 320neo, with its superb fuel efficiency and low operating costs, had picked up 667 orders at the Paris air show, a record for a commercial aircraft. Worse, American Airlines had done the unthinkable: it had ordered 130 of the new Airbus and 130 of the older one. Boeing’s relationship with American was foundational: it could always rely on the airline for its bedrock business, an insider, all-American affair. Now American had dared to buy European in unprecedented volumes: it was a competitive necessity to match rival airlines. Boeing had to respond. But instead of developing a whole new plane that could carry heavier, fuel-efficient engines, it made the fateful decision to bolt them on to a variant of its 737 series. …