Late Night: Leavin’ on a Jet Plane
A disheartening report from Glenn Hurowitz at Grist a couple of days ago:
Most underplayed economic story of the week: European aircraft manufacturer Airbus “trounced” the traditional U.S. behemoth Boeing at the Paris Air Show, booking a record $50 billion more in orders for new planes. The reason: commercial plane buyers’ demands for high fuel efficiency and low emissions…. Airbus racked up a whopping 730 new plane orders compared to a measly 142 for Boeing….
That giant sucking sound you hear is approximately half a million well-paying American jobs leaving Boeing factories in Seattle and other parts of America and heading to Airbus facilities in Toulouse, Seville, and Hamburg…
… As Rick Perlstein wrote in his seminal essay “The Stockticker and the Superjumbo,” Boeing is still paying for abandoning its once-successful strategy of long-term investments in innovative, groundbreaking products like the 747 jumbo jet in service of short-term profits meant to goose its quarterly earnings. Meanwhile, Airbus has maintained a decades-long commitment to the kind of painstaking, long-term R&D that helped it deliver the star of the Paris Air Show, the hyperefficient A320neo.
And it gets worse:
I wish I could report that the president was providing a counterweight to this anti-innovation attitude, in the same way he has signaled that he’s going to force American auto companies to achieve moderately ambitious increases in fuel efficiency. But just as Airbus was drubbing Boeing at the Paris Air Show, the Obama administration took the opportunity to announce that it would insist that Europe-bound flights on U.S. carriers be exempted from European laws requiring them to cut their emissions. If you can’t beat ’em, unleash the lobbyists.
Of all the many, many disappointments the Obama administration has brought us, this personally ranks pretty high. As a candidate, Barack Obama really seemed to grasp the potential of a “green recovery” to make economic and environmental progress at the same time — more so than the mere expedience of being a political candidate seemed to require. But despite ongoing noises in that general direction, there has been the all-too-familiar lack of results.
When short-sighted corporate thinking meets weak-willed politics, the outcome is rarely good for the rest of us.