I am a Hoosier. (Hear me roar!)
I live in Indiana, pay taxes in Indiana. When Indiana prospers, I prosper. In this, I suppose, I'm not much different from the nine Hoosier congressmen -- six Republicans and three Democrats -- who yesterday voted to salvage the alternate engine for Lockheed Martin's (NYSE: LMT ) F-35 fighter jet. Although they ended up on the losing side of the issue, I can't let their vote go unnoted.
Here's the thing: According to both the president and the pentagon, we don't need a second F-35 engine. (The engine that United Technologies (NYSE: UTX ) has built works just fine.) According to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, building the secondary engine will cost $2.9 billion.
Even General Electric (NYSE: GE ) , which would build the engine in partnership with Rolls-Royce, admits the costs to finish developing the thing will be high. The bill put forward before Congress asked for $450 million in spending this year. The House eventually voted to remove that funding, 233-198.
So why were Indiana's House representatives voting in favor of spending on the engine? Jobs. According to the Indianapolis Star, building GE's alternate engine would support 4,000 Hoosier jobs; 4,000 potential voters for the nine U.S. congressmen who yesterday put one state's interests ahead of the interests of the nation.
Shame on us
Now don't get me wrong -- I feel for the Hoosiers who might lose their jobs if GE's engine doesn't get built. In the spirit of Fool disclosure, I should mention that my wife was recently offered a job with Rolls-Royce, helping to build this engine (she turned 'em down). So just like the congressmen, I could have benefitted personally, if the engine got built.
Here's the other thing. I'm a Hoosier, but I'm also an American. A citizen of a nation that last year spent $1.3 trillion it didn't have. That's $14.1 trillion in debt today, and the country is preparing to raise the debt ceiling tomorrow. That being the case, I firmly oppose the spending of billions of dollars that we do not have on a fighter jet engine that we do not need.
Fools, there's a time for "enlightened self interest," but that time is not now. Now is the time for rational thinking, hard choices, and shared sacrifice. It's time to kill the F-35 alternate engine. Will GE's F-35 engine die for good in the Senate? If it does, what would that mean for your job (and your portfolio)? Scroll down and sound off in the comments box and don't forget to add General Electric to your Fool Watchlist.