Today the Alyona Show at RT covered accelerating drone seepage into US airspace, specifically the passed legislation green-lighting it. Over the past couple weeks, it’s also been subject to treatment at Steve Aftergood’s Secrecy Blog, one post of which notoriously generated a hailstorm of crazy wrath from the Drudge Army.
Drone are already used in the US. However, the new push is mostly all about money. Defense — read private contractor — spending in the areas of drone manufacturing and design, as well as cybersecurity, are two places relatively immune from future budget-cutting.
And the Alyona show aptly points to a chart on lobbying efforts from the drone industry and a startling but not unexpected doubling in greasing for it in 2011.
The drone industry knows there’s a good chance homeland security dollars can be used to lease drone flights to all manner of local government — read police — departments through the US. It’s a type of distributed payment in which the entire taxpayer base is used as a bank for what are effectively local point sales.
It’s been used throughout the last decade to equip police departments with all types of military equipment in the name of the war on terror. Leasing or buying drones, while much more expensive, is not fundamentally different.
Anyone who doubts this practice should probably review South Pasadena’s acquisition of a totally unnecessary armored car, as noted here a week or so ago.
If Burbank, for example, can have an armored car for a quarter of a million dollars on a grant from Homeland Security, why not a Predator drone for a couple million.
Southern California, including Pasadena, already has an able police air force, of sorts. It employs helicopters and over the course of fifteen years I’d have to say they’ve been cost effective. The Pasadena air force — one helicopter — has been successfully used to track and pin individuals of interest to the police (like car thieves or single gang members) using spotlights and infra-red optics. However, it is hard to imagine that a drone could do such a job better but not hard to imagine it being done and costing a lot more.
All because of the natural tendency, established in the last decade, in which police departments always wish to acquire additional military capability as long as they don’t have to pay for it from their local budget. And, with Senior Fellow GlobalSecurity.Org hat on, that is how I assume drone services will be offered to them by the industry.
In a Monday post at the Secrecy Blog, entitled “DoD Envisions ‘Routine’ UAS Access to US Airspace,” Aftergood includes a claim by a member of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International drone industry lobbying group:
“Over the next 15 years more than 23,000 … jobs could be created in the U.S. as the result of UAS integration into the [National Air Space.]”
When industry trade groups are boosting something they always include job creation claims as enticements.
Using simple arithmetic it is easy to put such claims in their proper perspective.
Using the drone industry’s own figure on job creation,. that’s 1,533 and one third jobs/year. Spread over a country the size of the United States at 311.5 million.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the employment/population ratio is 58 percent, which means 180.7 million people in the labor force this year.
Here’s the calculation:
1,533.33 divided by 180,700,000 = 8.48550083 × 10-6
That is, drone work is projected to contribute 8.48 x 10 to the MINUS SIXTH POWER, in terms of relative percentage to the current labor force.
Yeah, we need to so keep those unmanned aerial systems assembly lines humming and growing.
In other words, economic benefit to the middle class economy, outside of the profit to the manufacturers in the arms industry, is trivial.
Last week, LA Times Empire’s Dog Feces beat reporter W. J. Hennigan noted a protester at a trade conference for the drone industry, one in which the keynote address was delivered by the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee:
At a conference about the development of drones for use in combat, Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-Santa Clarita) was interrupted Wednesday by an anti-drone protester as he was giving a speech …
McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, was discussing how efforts to curtail the military budget would hurt national security and the U.S. military when the protester interrupted him.
“These drones are playing god,” she said, carrying a banner that read “Stop Killer Drones.”
The crowd, made up of military contractors, military personnel and industry insiders, was surprised and hushed at first, but began booing when the protester continued to denounce the use of drones in combat.
Within seconds, hotel security personnel surrounded the woman. She was carried out …
Predator loans, iPhones and drones … “”The best startlingly real and truthful electric folk rock song this year!” — Joe Morgansternly, The Weekly National Standard Journal & Politico Review
Recommend it. Sing the chorus. You heard it here first.