June 7, 2013 11:08:54 AM
When the increasingly infamous sequester officially began in March, the sky did not fall. Well, it didn't fall right away.
The sequester cuts -- a deal agreed on by both the Democratic Administration and the Republicans -- were to be split evenly between the defense and non-defense categories, with each department given the duty of deciding which cuts to make. Some major programs like Social Security, Medicaid, federal pay (including military pay and pensions) and veterans' benefits are exempt.
In the first weeks of the sequester, many small-government Republicans, including those in Mississippi, suggested that the warning of dire consequences resulting from the sequester were merely scare talk from the Obama Administration. The GOP line at the time was: "See? These 10 percent across-the-board cuts don't hurt."
The TSA began to reduce the number of air traffic controllers, leading the long delays at airports, including those used by Congress. As could be predicted, the howling commenced in earnest.
The discontent has only increased since then. In recent weeks, the Pentagon started making its cuts. Thousands of National Guardsmen were put on furlough. Closer to home, the cuts threatened to reduce an order with American Eurocopter for Lakota helicopters from 41 to 10. It was very much a local matter then because the company's Lakotas are assembled at the company's Columbus facility. The reduction in the military order could mean layoffs.
Predictably, the same GOP state leaders who had dismissed the sequester as harmless, were lining up to say what a terrible thing the sequester had become. Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant and U.S. congressmen Roger Wicker, Alan Nunnelee and Gregg Harper all turned out for a rally in Columbus to protest the cuts.
Their actions affirm a well-established truth: People don't mind if an ox gets gored every now and then: As long as its not THEIR ox.
Sequester or no sequester, it is neither a sign of disrespect to Eurocopter or unpatriotic to wish that military orders will begin to decline.
In our war-weary country, the sentiment expressed in Isaiah -- "They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." -- is something to be earnestly hoped for by all Americans.
While there will always be a need for military production -- and we certainly hope Eurocopter is prominent in meeting those needs --the ideal scenario would be a Eurocopter that spends most of its energies making non-military products.
That is why we are greatly encouraged by Thursday's announcement that Eurocopter has won a contract to build six helicopters for Pylon Aviation, which specializes in the commercial sale of aircraft.
In truth, the alarming news that Eurocopter's contract with the Pentagon might be jeopardized may have created a distorted image of the company. Eurocopter has long been an active and successful entity in the commercial aviation industry. We hope Eurocopter's future is heavily dominated by commercial production, mainly because we hope the need for military aircraft will diminish in a long absence of war.
Aurora Flight Services and Stark Aerospace, both with facilities in Columbus, are actively pursuing commercial applications for their drone aircraft, too.
That' s a good thing. We look forward to the day when our need for plowshares is greater than our need for swords.
And we very much prefer to have those metaphorical plowshares made right here in Columbus.