Holiday cheer for General Dynamics: the War Machine well oiled.

General Dynamics plans to add up to 150 new jobs, at a reported $75,000 average annual salary, as a result of the approval in the Senate and House yesterday of the new federal spending plan.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Senate approved the measure 79-16. Late last night, the House followed suit in a much closer vote, 193-165. Included in the measure was Defense Department funding of a plan that would add a number of new combat ships to the Navy’s fleet. General Dynamics will be involved in the design and manufacture of components for the new ship.

That will create what the company estimates as 150 new jobs at the Pittsfield plant on Plastics Avenue. The jobs will average $75,000 a year, according to Pittsfield Mayor Jimmy Ruberto.

THE PLANET shall continue to add to this story as the day progresses.


FOOD FOR THOUGHT: The first reader “reply” came in to this website @ 9:12 a.m. The Berkshire Eagle posted a story online @ 12:27:18 p.m. How is it that THE PLANET, with our tiny staff and a million other media responsibilities, beats them on a local story of this magnitude, by more than 3 1/2 hours? Speed, baby, smarts, aggressiveness, will, and knowing how to use them. To my good friends at the Boring Broadsheet (aka the Eagle): We shall consider your surrender only on OUR terms.



Back in with the other part of this story: the analysis. Since we can be sure Mayor Jimmy Ruberto, Gov. Deval Patrick, Sen. John Kerry, and their rah-rah apologists at the Berkshire Eagle will spin this story into the Second Coming of Christ, THE PLANET present the contrarian view of what this means. This new money that will be injected into the local economy is Blood Money. Why do we celebrate that?

Tip O’Neil’s famous quip that “all politics is local” is another way of saying that politics is myopic. Since policy is made by office holders desperate to hang onto office, politicians are notoriously short term. This story about the new work coming to General Dynamics is a prime example. Yes, it’s good that it happened, short term, for Pittsfield. The larger picture, though is morally disturbing.


That the House and Senate included this in the spending bill based on the arm twisting of people like Ruberto twisting Patrick, Patrick twisting Kerry, and Kerry twisting Whomever means that we have just funded new battle ships for a Navy that doesn’t need them to fight wars in which we shouldn’t be engaged.

The awarding of this funding confirms that the War Machine in the United States is about Big Business more than intelligent foreign policy. This country never returned to a peacetime economy after WWII. That war boosted the GNP of the US into the stratosphere, and when the war ended, the Pentagon and Big Business did not want to let go of the Gravy Train, Gravy Plane, Gravy Boat, Gravy Tank, and Gravy Bomb. Thus was created the National Security State, that thrives to this day.

President Eisenhower, a military man, warned us about the dangers of an out-of-control military-industrial complex. He was an old man in bad health, no threat to the Established New Order. When Jack Kennedy came in and started to dismantle the organization, they killed him. Since then, it’s been more military buildup, to its present 40+% of the entire US budget, to fight fake wars and to deploy military capability well beyond what reason and national security dictate.

Sept. 11, 2001, was the Establishment’s lucky day, and that has become the excuse ever since for the US to not only think it’s the world’s policeman but to act that way as well.

That’s what these jobs at General Dynamic reflect: the hijacking of government from the American people. THE PLANET will not celebrate The War Machine, no matter how much it benefits us locally.

WAR IS GOOD FOR BUSINESS AND PITTSFIELD. That's not an argument, that's rationale.

What Ruberto, Patrick, Kerry et al won’t tell you about the budget just passed by the House and Senate is the colossal waste of money it includes. We count the Pentagon’s budget, hence the Navy’s new boat toys and the morally bankrupt jobs it will create, as part of that waste.

Politics as Usual

The new spending bill was passed only after a lot of last-minute wrangling. Remember that earlier this year, with the Democrats controlling both houses, the Jackasses couldn’t get a traditional spending bill passed. As points out, this sets the stage for a colossal amount of partisan gridlock in the upcoming new Congress.

Early in December, Congress had to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government at the current level because of the battle between reformers, who want to curb uncontrolled federal spending, and the Business as Usual crowd, who want to keep adding to the taxpayer’s burden. That’s how you end up with unnecessary spending such as the wet kiss to Pittsfield in the form of Blood Money jobs making weapons we don’t need.

This in not Pittsfield’s “finest hour,” a phrase Mayor Ruberto used to THE PLANET to describe this development. It is Pittsfield’s status as a beneficiary to the immoral government of the United States of America.

This new spending plan provides for the funding of these projects:

— $175 million for the Department of Veteran Affairs to maintain unused buildings.

— $615,000 to the University of California at Santa Cruz to digitize Grateful Dead memorabilia.

— $930 million for unnecessary federal printing costs.

— $2.9 million to study virtual games, including the World of Warcraft.

— $35 million in Medicare payments to criminal gang members who submitted false claims based on identity theft.

— $15.68 million for the Bureau of Land Management on a 2,900-acre shooting range in Nevada.

— $977,766 to put poetry in zoos in five states. Massachusetts was not one of them.

— $112 million for the IRS to hand out tax refunds to prisoners who filed fraudulent claims.

— $2.5 million for the U.S. Census Bureau to take out an ad during the Super Bowl.

THE PLANET’s sources for this information: Wastebook, CNBC, Bloomberg, USA Today, The Week, and our own readings of the spending plan.

The federal budget deficit this year is $1.3 trillion. The size of the national debt is $13.7 trillion. With a “T”.

The amount of money the Navy got to build the new combat ships is a trifle within such numbers, but don’t pretend this is anything more than pork.

There’s nothing to be proud of here. We’ll take the waste, since it would only go to someone else, but please, let’s keep our heads. This doesn’t address the most fundamental problem in Pittsfield right now: jobs. The city will need a whole lot more than 150 new jobs. Even at that, these jobs will largely be filled by out-of-towners. Where are the mid-range ($40,000-type) jobs for those who are not naval systems engineers?


  1. Jim Gleason
    December 22, 2010 at 9:12 am #

    Dan, how does the Eagle come up with 500 jobs and you 150 jobs? Are they exaggerating, as usual writing fairy tales, or are you being conservative?

  2. danvalenti
    December 22, 2010 at 11:15 am #

    I’m using the realistic estimate. Can’t speak for the Eagle, but they are likely claiming 500 new jobs at General Dynamic since Ruberto has been mayor. Another example of the Eagle being little more than a rah-rah for the Administration. Of course, that means we are about 13,500 jobs short of the halcyon days of GE.

    PS: Did you see Krol’s invitation to your dad? I hope Don agrees to do his how.

  3. Mike Ward
    December 22, 2010 at 1:20 pm #

    Interesting argument Dan. But I don’t think the jobs at General Dynamics are morally corrupt, and neither are military jobs for that matter. They are all part of an inanimate defense system. The morality lies in the decision of when and how to deploy that system.

    • danvalenti
      December 22, 2010 at 2:24 pm #

      The “defense system” you refer to ultimately traces back to the genuine vs. the political national security needs of the country. These jobs are pork barrel spending. That’s both a statement of fact and a judgment. We need these ships to protect the national security like the Phillies need more pitching. If we spent a fraction of the Pentagon budget on providing free, quality health care to US citizens, I would bring out the dancing girls. Not for this, though. Taking the myopic, short-term, self-serving view, of course, the jobs are “good” for Pittsfield, but how sad is it that our ecomony, as the cartoon in my post shows, depends on the National Security State and War Monger Mentality.

    • just saying
      December 25, 2010 at 11:53 pm #

      @ Mr. Ward… I agree 100%.

  4. Mike Ward
    December 22, 2010 at 2:40 pm #

    OK, that’s a much broader debate — how much and what kind of defense system do we need in 2011? But the engineers and machinists at GD don’t make that decision any more than they pull the trigger. They build what their government orders.

    • danvalenti
      December 22, 2010 at 8:26 pm #

      That’s just the point. It’s the much broader debate we refuse to undertake as a city, a region, a country. Those who build what the government orders have to answer the question for themselves.

  5. Scott Laugenour
    December 22, 2010 at 2:56 pm #

    “Defense” in this context is quite the euphemism, as history will surely show at some point. Ditto for any talk about ‘security.’

    My first reaction to this news was very similar. This country spends more on its war systems than all other countries combined. I don’t celebrate this budget and I won’t cheer or vote for those politicians who vote for this level of war funding.

    I happen now to be reading Mary Tillman’s book about the tragic death of her son, Pat Tillman in Afghanistan. So many casualties to our war economy. It is painful to follow the story of the Tillman’s family’s coming to realize that official deception is often deliberate.

    Your column today is an essential component of the story of our economy today. There are ways out of it, but the answer is not throwing more money into the war machine.

    • just saying
      December 26, 2010 at 12:06 am #

      The Federal Government is charged with the “supply of a strong national defense”. This entity is not however given power to provide wellfare, foodstamps or education through any means. I suggest that the Federal Government give us a strong national defense, and stay the hell out of county/city/town choices with their ill gotten and illegal funding of state programs. If they want GD to manufacture weapons systems, good.

  6. FAN OF them ALL
    December 22, 2010 at 8:07 pm #

    I’m with Valenti and Scott L. No matter how you spin this, the money wasted on needless defense spending has the 30 pieces of silver all over it. Ward is right: it’s not on the engineers that take these jobs (or is it?). They build what the govt orders is merely another form of I was only following orders.

    And congrats on beating the Beagle-again!

    • danvalenti
      December 22, 2010 at 8:29 pm #

      That’s an apt metaphor. “I was only following orders.” It’s sickening, but the core of the US ecomony depends upon corrupt military spending.

    December 22, 2010 at 8:52 pm #

    Valenti is a charlatan and cynical opportunist. He would wage war on his hometown if it got him money and ratings. He also leaves out the key role of Congresman John Olver in securing of this contract. Curious timing of his note to Sherwood Guernsey on acebook. Mayor Ruberto came up big time.

  8. Jonathan Melle
    December 22, 2010 at 10:06 pm #

    Blood, Money, & Senator John Forbes Kerry, Governor Deval Patrick, and Mayor Jimmy Ruberto. Kerry is the wealthiest member of U.S. Congress with a gilded trust fund full of old wealth. Patrick made millions off of Ameriquest’s sub-prime mortgage loans that screwed poor people and tanked the economy. Ruberto bankrupted a Texas plastics company, took the loot back to Pittsfield by moving into his mother’s home, put his mother into a nursing home, and assumed the throne in City Hall. There is a lot of blood in Kerry, Patrick & Ruberto’s purses.
    Per military spending and the war machine, there are excellent online videos explaining how guns and butter makes Wall Street profits.
    Our #1 non-form export is selling weapons to foreign nations.
    We are in Iraq for their oil, which our corporations now own and control.
    We are but pawns on a chess board.

  9. Dean
    December 22, 2010 at 11:31 pm #

    Hate to burst your bubble dan but anybody on Ben Downings email list, access to twitter, or knowledge of the internet could have and should have known about this/known when it was official far before you posted it. You did beat the Eagle but so did twitter and politico and everybody else. Just sayin you can bash the Eagle all you want, i love it, but lets be serious. And as to the blood money or whatever you would like to call it we could nitpick through every bill congress passes and decide whats wrong and whats right and come up with an opinion, but the point is the people who understand the situation the best, the experts, the engineers, the generals, the guys who DO pull the trigger know a hell of a lot more about what is needed then a blogger from Lenox. Cynics can bitch and moan all day but there is a reason those people have those jobs and we dont, you sir, as well as a lot of (everyone) on this website, (looking at you jimmy G) have serious trust issues. It is okay to question, but to claim right over wrong on something you know little/nothing about just makes you look stupid. thats why i enjoy your facts more than your fiction. the end.

  10. John Krol
    December 23, 2010 at 4:48 am #

    What baffles me, Dan, is that you fondly recall the good ole days with General Electric running the city, as if GE didn’t thrive in part because of the military industrial complex you’re condemning. However, if you look at the project GD will be working on, it is something that makes our Navy more efficient and flexible to face the challenges we have today. Is there too much spending on the military rather than many of the critical things that will help our nation grow domestically? I think the answer is yes. But, the AIS ships that are being engineered in Pittsfield are leaner and better suited for the challenges of today post-9/11 and are not an example of outdated pork. This is a real boost to the local economy, with real jobs, which we have all been working to encourage — through the efforts in the downtown, the neighborhoods and our schools — to make Pittsfield an attractive place — a place where hundreds of new families will now broaden the tax base and bring further positive momentum to everything we’re working to achieve in this community.

    • Joe Pinhead
      December 23, 2010 at 11:11 am #

      Mr Krol with all due respect a healthy downtown is nice but please read the article linked below. Rural western NC has managed to lure 4 of the largest tech companies to the area, not based on downtown or theaters or anything of the sort. Based upon available space, cheap energy costs and tax incentives to name a few. Where was the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in this process? Was the City of Pittsfield involved in at least a pitch to any one of the 4 corporations? If so can we see the proposal that was put forth? If we did compete but the companies decided to go else where have we followed up with a thanks for entertaining our proposal please help us to understand what we can do better exchange?
      Just wondering

    • Jim Gleason
      December 23, 2010 at 1:55 pm #

      Mr Krol, how many local people will be hired to fill these jobs? I heard you say on your show the other day that “not many” of these jobs would affect locals because they were high tech engineering jobs that not many locals were qualified fto do. What effect will these jobs have on our economy beside hotel rooms being rented and a few temporary residences being established?

  11. Joe Pinhead
    December 23, 2010 at 6:11 am #

    I for one am just a bit confused, If the ships are so badly needed then wouldn’t the top brass in the Navy be pushing for them strongly? I mean if we are to believe the Mayors Press machine the lobbying was done by; The Mayor, the Governor and Olver then the ships are not really needed except for use as political fodder. I mean really does anyone think the above mentioned people really have a clue about the needs of the defense department? I bet they would get sea sick out on the dang boats. Does anyone really think that the Mayor is in anyway responsible for the awarding of the contract? He wasn’t even influential in the least bit, any correspondence he sent most likely wasn’t even read, let alone valued for its keen eye and awareness on the security needs of the country. He’s the Mayor of Pittsfield he got one dropped in his lap. Yes the jobs will be a help to us locally but we must remember from the GE defense days they won’t last forever.

  12. rick
    December 23, 2010 at 6:29 am #

    if anyone thinks that roberto(or any mayor) had anything to do with influencing jobs with general dynamics or g.e. is insane. im sure ceos of these companies dont call the local mayors to ask their advice……billion dollar contracts dont go thu the local yokels…..being in office at the right time,to take some credit is all that happens. looks good on their resumes. lol

  13. rick
    December 23, 2010 at 6:34 am #

    dan wheres the interview with nichols????????? we need to get the 2011 campaing will make the winter go by faster.

  14. DJ Bloom
    December 23, 2010 at 8:05 am #

    I know people that work at GD and the jobs created will not actually be in Pittsfield. The jobs are going to consultants and people already working for GD at a facility out of state.
    It might be a small boost for the local hotel or housing market, But these are not permanent jobs and the local hiring will be minimal.
    Those of you that work for GD can confirm this as some of the postings have gone up internally. Requirements include for some of the jobs, Masters in Engineering, a specific number of years as a machinist and most importantly an existing TOP SECRET security clearance.
    The GD fabrication jobs, will be “on the books” for Pittsfield but the jobs will be in Virginia.

    December 23, 2010 at 8:35 am #

    This wouldn’t have happened without the intense lobbying of Jim Ruberto. Even Valenti admits this in his coverage. Read it. Ruberto’s personal relationship with the governor.

    • Joe Pinhead
      December 23, 2010 at 10:58 am #

      Pittsfield Believer If I am to take your statements at face value “This wouldn’t have happened without the intense lobbying of Jim Ruberto.” It only furthers the position of the program being pork. Did Mr. Ruberto lobby as an expert on terrorism? Or was it as the Secretary of the Navy? Or as a defense policy analyst? At best if we believe Jimmy has the ear of the power structure in Washington he lobbied on behalf of jobs in Pittsfield, It is what the Mayor Must and should do. However that is the definition of pork. Money spent on behalf of constituents and not on behalf of the best interests of the country. Sometime those things connect, sorry I don’t see it here. But now I have to hope and help to ensure that its effects are maximized here locally.

    • DJ Bloom
      December 23, 2010 at 6:17 pm #

      Is this the personal relationship that got him busted for an ethics violation?

  16. Albert Prince
    December 23, 2010 at 10:38 am #

    Hey pittsfield (un)believer: this happened because of pork spending. The mayor? Nonfactor. The analysis here is the bet I’ve read anywhere. All the others are sickeningly fawning. Afraid to look at the STORY. That’s what I lovea bout this ‘Planet’. Brings a new order to the local universe

  17. Angela
    December 23, 2010 at 12:31 pm #

    Dan, keep applying your jumper cables to teats of The Eagle.

    This site should be the home page of all the suits in the Eagle’s administration. I hope so, anyway. Maybe their engines will finally turn over and they’ll live up to their responsibility to DIG and not just take DICTATION.

    I won’t hold my breath.

    It takes me about 22 seconds to read The Eagle each day, and I’m left feeling like I just ate a packing peanut: no nutritional value.

    Thanks for your website. It’s a hearty meal!