Trump makes a woman not want to have sex with guys her own age


“Trump’s election stole my desire to look for a partner” is an interesting Washington Post article.

The author describes herself as having had “[e]nough of this dating unavailable men a half-decade younger than me”. Let’s assume that “dating” translates to “having sex.” The young cougar is now “ready to look for a partner” who is “an equal” (i.e., same age or older?). She has “two children and our needy dog.” She says she has “no idea what a supportive partner would even look like”.

She says that “on [her] own” she “can support [her] family.” This is fortunate because since she apparently has no “partner” of any kind, Perhaps her husband died and she and the kids were left without life insurance? But then who babysits the kids while she is having sex with these “half-decade younger” men?

I found the author, Stephanie Land, on Facebook. Here’s a May 8 posting:


It seems that she is a big Sheryl Sandberg fan. Also, though she has no “partner,” she is cashing child support checks on a regular basis. Perhaps due to an imperfect understanding of Montana family law, which does provide for potentially unlimited child support profits, Ms. Land says that she is struggling financially despite receiving these checks from a non-partner. Could it be that the father of these kids, when he is not writing checks to Ms. Land, is also caring for them every other weekend, thus facilitating the dates with younger men? Why doesn’t he then qualify as at least a financial partner in Ms. Land’s journey of single motherhood?

[Actually perhaps there are two different fathers for the two kids (generally the best financial strategy)? One of the cashflow-positive kids is 9 and one is 2. The author says “I’ve been on my own with my kids for most of the past decade”. Was she actually “on [her] own” when the 2-year-old was conceived?]

Now that Americans have elected someone other than Sheryl Sandberg to occupy the White House (Sheryl for 2020?), what’s left for this mom?

I’ve lost the desire to attempt the courtship phase. The future is uncertain. I am not the optimistic person I was on the morning of Nov. 8, wearing a T-shirt with “Nasty Woman” written inside a red heart. It makes me want to cry thinking of that. Of seeing my oldest in the shirt I bought her in Washington, D.C., that says “Future President.”

There is no room for dating in this place of grief. Dating means hope. I’ve lost that hope in seeing the words “President-elect Trump.”

On Facebook she says that she will be at a conference in Washington, D.C. on December 12 (“How Progressives Can Defend the Working Class in the Trump Era”). In case she does meet a higher-income “date” there among the “progressives”, her May 8th financial woes might dissipate (see Real World Divorce for the variation in potential child support profits among D.C., Maryland, and Virginia).

High CEO pay is one reason that American GDP growth rate is so low?


During Election 2016, the Trumpenfuhrer-elect harped on the fact that U.S. GDP is growing only at about the same rate as the population. I.e., we’re not getting wealthier on a per-capita basis.

Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed (Ben Rich, 1996) was written by the manager of what became a sizable business:

The stealth fighter brought in more than $6 billion. Refurbishing the U-2 and the Blackbird brought in $100 million. By my fifth year I was heading a small, secret R & D outfit whose annual earnings placed it among the Fortune 500.

As an officially crabby old person, though, he was pessimistic about the future:

There are very few strong-willed individualists in the top echelons of big business—executives willing or able to decree the start of a new product line by sheer force of personal conviction, or willing to risk investment in unproven technologies. As salaries climb into the realm of eight-figure annual paychecks for CEOs, and company presidents enjoy stock options worth tens of millions, there is simply too much at stake for any executive turtle to stick his neck out of the shell.

What’s changed 20 years later? The “stock options worth tens of millions” are now worth hundreds of millions of dollars for some CEOs. What is the incentive to put them at risk by funding a radical product?


My Facebook friends’ newfound love for military spending


Trump said that $4 billion was too much for a couple of Boeing 747s in executive configuration to replace the current Air Force One Boeing 747s. If everything goes according to plan, unlike any other recent military procurement project, the planes will be delivered circa 2024.

My friends on Facebook are outraged:

Another blatant lie. [over an article about how it is really only $170 million]

In addition to the distorted picture that Trump paints, it’s the fact that he engages in this type of self-aggrandizing behavior. Obama cancelled helicopter orders during his administration but he did not feel the need to tweet about it to make himself look good. [the “distorted picture” is that government spending on military aircraft tends to be wasteful?]

Obama cancelled orders too. Trump distorts facts and lies and he feels the need to get on Twitter to make himself look good. Not my idea of a grounded leader. Plus now it’s coming out that he was pissed off at Boeing. He really is a 13-year old boy, developmentally.

To avoid being defriended, a middle-aged white guy from Michigan was careful to disclaim any personal support for Trump before commenting with the following:

Forget about AF-1, the beauty of the statement by Trump is that it has provoked a reflexive response of Boeing support among progressives which couldn’t have been larger than had they made the announcement that they’d be withdrawing from bidding any future military contracts. Five minutes ago, Boeing was emblematic of corporate greed; now they’re a beleaguered business just trying to break even.

If Trump can be induced to say he wants to cancel the Navy, they’ll be demanding a 600-ship fleet by next Tuesday.

Low-hanging fruit for the Trumpenfuhrer: Civilian-run maintenance for Air Force planes


A Pearl Harbor Day thought from Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed (Ben Rich)…

One area in particular where the Skunk Works serves as a paragon for doing things right is aircraft maintenance. We have proven time and again that the Air Force would be much more efficient using civilian contractor maintenance on its air fleet whenever possible. Fifteen years ago, there were so many mechanical breakdowns on the flight lines at air bases around the world that it took three airplanes to keep just one flying. The reason: lack of good maintenance by inexperienced flight crews. We in the Skunk Works are the best in the business at providing our own ground crews to service and repair our own aircraft. For instance, two Air Force SR-71 Blackbirds based in England throughout the 1970s used Skunk Works maintenance. We had on hand a thirty-five-man crew. By contrast, two Air Force Blackbirds based at Kadena on Okinawa relied on only blue-suiter ground crews, which totaled six hundred personnel. Contractors can cross-train and keep personnel on site for years, whereas the military rotates people every three years, and valuable experience is lost. Currently, two U-2s are stationed in Cyprus with twelve Lockheed maintenance persons, while two other U-2s stationed at Taif, in Saudi Arabia, in support of the UN mission in Iraq, have more than two hundred Air Force personnel.

Lockheed had provided almost everything for the CIA spy plane program except for the pilots. Maybe an idea here for Donald Trump and his incoming team?

Ben Rich is not encouraging regarding achieving efficiencies in other areas of defense contracting:

IN MY FORTY YEARS at Lockheed I worked on twenty-seven different airplanes. Today’s young engineer will be lucky to build even one. … Obsolescence is guaranteed because outside of a secret, high-priority project environment like the Skunk Works, it usually takes eight to ten years to get an airplane from the drawing board into production and operational. Every combat airplane that flew in Operation Desert Storm in 1991 was at least ten to fifteen years old by the time it actually proved its worth on the battlefield, and we are now entering an era in which there may be a twenty- to thirty-year lapse between generations of military aircraft.

Unfortunately, the trend nowadays is toward more supervision and bureaucracy, not less. General Larry Welch, the former Air Force chief of staff, reminded me recently that it took only two Air Force brass, three Pentagon officials, and four key players on the Hill to get the Blackbird project rolling. “If I wanted an airplane and the secretary of the Air Force agreed,” the general observed, “we had four key congressional committee chairmen to deal with and that was that. The same was true of the stealth fighter project—except we had eight people to deal with on the Hill instead of four. But by the time we were dealing with the B-2 project, we had to jump through all the bureaucratic hoops at the Pentagon and on the Hill. So it is harder and harder to have a Skunk Works.

I was in Boston recently and visited Old Ironsides at its berth, coincidentally at a time when the ship was being painted. I chatted with one of the supervisors and asked him about the length of the government specifications for this particular job. He said it numbered two hundred pages and laughed in embarrassment when I told him to take a look at the glass display case showing the original specification to build the ship in 1776, which was all of three pages.

General Dynamics is forced by regulations to store ninety-two thousand boxes of data for their F-16 fighter program alone. They pay. rent on a fifty-thousand-square-foot warehouse, pay the salaries of employees to maintain, guard, and store these unread and useless boxes, and send the bill to the Air Force and you and me. That is just one fighter project. There are many other useless warehouses just like it. There is so much unnecessary red tape that by one estimate only 45 percent of a procurement budget actually is spent producing the hardware. … A Skunk Works purchase order for vendor development of a system used in an advanced airplane took three pages. The vendor replied with a four-page letter proposal that included specifications for the system under development. … But at Lockheed’s main plant, or at any other manufacturer’s, that same transaction typically produced a 185-page purchase order, which led to a 1,200-page proposal, as well as three volumes on technical factors, costs, and management of the proposed project.

At least the contractors and their shareholders get wealthy, right? Ben Rich says “no.” The F-22 project was a money-loser for all five partner companies, he says, due to the government cutting the number of planes ordered: “The sad truth is that our stockholders would have done better financially if they had invested that $690 million in CDs.”

For whom does the system work out? See a recent Washington Post story for how the Department of Defense’s management and administrative costs have grown even as the number of soldiers has shrunk, consistent with Parkinson’s Law (he chronicled the growth of British Admiralty central bureaucracy as the number of ships in the British Navy plummeted):

The data showed that the Defense Department was paying a staggering number of people — 1,014,000 contractors, civilians and uniformed personnel — to fill back-office jobs far from the front lines. That workforce supports 1.3 million troops on active duty, the fewest since 1940.

In an aside, he revealed that early findings had determined the average administrative job at the Pentagon was costing taxpayers more than $200,000, including salary and benefits. [federal versus private-sector pay]

About 84,000 people held human-resources jobs.

More: Read the book.


Invest based on PISA test results and income tax rates?


The latest PISA test results are in, comparing academic achievement among 15-year-olds in countries around the world (OECD). I’m wondering if these can be a guide for a long-term buy-and-hold investor. What motivates a business to invest? Natural resources, obviously, but, for the non-extractive part of the economy, how about educated workers plus low tax rates?

Within a country, both the academic ability of young adults and overall size of government seem to be fairly persistent over the decades.

Consider France. Like the U.S., this country is mediocre in terms of academic achievement and, according to the above-referenced OECD report, 14.8 percent of French people are “low achievers” who, especially in a $15/hour (15 euro?) minimum wage world, seem likely to be permanently on welfare (the French may not offer U.S.-quality subsidized or free public housing or food stamps, but they do have free health care for those without jobs and at least some traditional cash welfare). Heritage Foundation says that the French collect 45 percent of GDP in taxes (but maybe the real number is higher? The same page says “Government spending equals 57.5 percent of total domestic output” and “deficits hovering around 4 percent of GDP”).

Maybe some French companies are profit-machines today, perhaps based on brands established 50 or 100 years ago, but in the long run why would the country attract new investment? Capital could flow to PISA chart-toppers Singapore (government spending 18 percent of GDP; top income tax rate 22 percent; top corporate tax rate 17 percent), Estonia (no corporate income tax), Taiwan (government spending only 19.4 percent of GDP; top corporate tax rate 17 percent),

What do readers think? If investing with a 20- or 30-year horizon, would it make sense to look at these PISA numbers?

[A retired hedge fund manager friend says “No. All of this is already priced into the markets,” a variation of the traditional money-manager’s theory that “Your ideas are priced in; my ideas will yield above-market returns.” Generally I am a believer in the Efficient-market hypothesis, but what if markets are dominated by investors with a shorter-term horizon? Why would they be looking at the academic achievement of today’s 15-year-olds?]


How the SR-71 got its name


From Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed (Ben Rich)…

President Johnson first announced in 1964 the existence of the RS-71, the Air Force two-seater Blackbird. That’s right, RS-71 was its official designation, but Johnson accidentally turned it around and called it the “SR-71.” Instead of putting out a brief correction, the Air Force decided not to call attention to a very minor mistake by the commander in chief and ordered us to change about twenty-nine thousand blueprints and drawings at a cost of thousands of dollars so that they would read “SR-71” and not “RS-71.”

(This happened at Disney when a cousin was working on the film that ultimately became Emperor’s New Groove. The working title, given the Inca theme, was Empire of the Sun. Michael Eisner, the CEO, referred to the movie as “Empire in the Sun” and the sycophants surrounding him were too afraid to correct him. The underlings simply ordered that the working title be changed to conform to the CEO’s misconception.)

More: Read the book.


How do you get to someone competent in Verizon tech support?


Almost exactly a month ago my Verizon FiOS service slowed down to the point of being useless. After two hours on the phone with people who didn’t know anything about networking (saga), I was finally connected to someone who knew what tracert was, what DNS was, etc. The problem was diagnosed as being within Verizon’s network and was fixed the next day.

A month later and the symptoms are the same: high packet loss rates; failure to resolve host names (probably due to the packet loss); occasional bursts of connectivity.

After about 1.5 hours on the phone, however, Verizon decided that their incompetence and failure to monitor the network (previous post) was a good occasion for revenue enhancement. Without telling me “these guys are going to try to charge you a bunch of money,” the technically clueless person on the phone transferred me to “premium technical support.” It turns out that one aspect of premium technical support is a complete lack of records from the rest of Verizon. I asked the guy “Can you look up the records from November 6 and transfer me to the same group?” and the answer was that he had no records of any previous transactions on my account.

It seems that FiOS is going to be failing regularly and I’d rather not have to spend 2-3 hours on the phone each time with people asking me to reboot this device or that. So… is there a secret to bypassing their wall of ignorant first- and second-line agents?

[Separately, if Verizon is a phone company why can’t get they get their caller ID to work? I had to give my home telephone number, i.e., the one I was calling from, to about five different agents.]

[I managed to run a couple of speed tests during a brief window of connectivity…




Update: The Verizon tech showed up with a new Actiontec router, switched it from getting Internet via coax to getting it via CAT5, rebooted the ONT a few times, and now everything seems to be fast again. He might have been guilty of thought-crime, however. Asked to test the service, I reported that “I was able to load the home page of the New York Times. The news today is that Donald Trump is a very bad person.” Despite his membership in a labor union that recently went out on strike, he apparently was not a Hillary believer. After laughing, he said that Hillary’s paid talks to Wall Street audiences were a deal-killer for him (a white guy in his 50s?).

Why you don’t want to be a test pilot


From Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed (Ben Rich)…

(from an Other Voices section, written by a test pilot of the Have Blue stealth prototype) A couple of hours later I was completing a routine flight and coming in for a landing. I came in at 125 knots, but a little high. I was just about to flare and put the nose down when I immediately lost my angle of attack and the airplane plunged seven feet on one side, slamming onto the runway. I was afraid I’d skid off the runway and tear off the landing gear, so I decided to gun the engines and take off and go around again. I didn’t know that that hard landing had bent my landing gear on the right side. When I took off again, I automatically raised my landing gear and came around to land. Then I lowered the gear, and Colonel McClain, my chase, came on the horn and told me that only the left gear was down. I tried everything—all kinds of shakes, rattles, and rolls—to make the right gear come down. I had no way of knowing it was hopelessly bent. I even came in on one wheel, just kissed down on the left side, hoping that jarring effect would spring the other gear loose—a hell of a maneuver if I have to say so—but it proved useless. By then I was starting to think serious thoughts. While I was climbing to about 10,000 feet, one of my engines quit. Out of fuel. I radioed, “I’m gonna bail out of here unless anyone has any better idea.” Nobody did. I would’ve preferred to go a little higher before punching out, but I knew I had to get out of there before the other engine flamed out too, because then I had all of two seconds before we’d spin out of control. Ejecting makes a big noise—like you’re right up against a speeding train. There was flame and smoke as I got propelled out. And then everything went black. I was knocked unconscious banging my head against the chair. Colonel McClain saw me dangling lifelessly in the chute and radioed back, “Well, the fat’s in the fire now.” I was still out cold when I hit the desert floor face down. It was a windy day and I was dragged on my face by my chute about fifty feet in the sand and scrub. But the chopper was right there. The paramedic jumped out and got to me as I was turning blue. My mouth and nose were filled with sand and I was asphyxiating. Another minute or two and my wife would’ve been a widow. I was flown to a hospital. When I came to, my wife and Ben Rich were standing over my bed. Ben had flown her in from Burbank on the company jet. I had been forced to bail out four times over fifteen years of flight testing for the Skunk Works, and I never suffered a scratch. This time I had an awful headache and a throbbing pain in my leg, which was in a cast. A broken leg was not fatal in the test flight business but my pounding headache was. I had suffered a moderate concussion and that was the end of the line for me. The rules were very strict about the consequences of head injuries to professional pilots.

We were great innovators, rule benders, chance takers, and when appropriate, corner cutters. We did things like fuel airplanes inside an assembly area—a strictly forbidden act that risked fires or worse—to solve the problem of not having to move a very secret airplane into daylight to see if its fuel system leaked. Our people knew what they were doing, worked skillfully under intense pressure, and skirted hazards mostly by sheer expertise and experience. But as we grew, the skill level decreased and sloppiness suddenly became a serious problem. Midway into the stealth fighter project we began experiencing foreign object damage (FOD) caused by careless workmen. This particular problem is familiar to all manufacturers of airplanes but had been practically nonexistent in our shop. Parts left inside an engine can destroy it or cost lives in fatal crashes. We’ve all heard about surgeons leaving sponges or clamps inside bodies—but I know of a case in the main Lockheed plant where a workman left a vacuum cleaner inside the fuel tank of an Electra. The vacuum cleaner began banging around inside the fuel tank at ten thousand feet and the pilot landed safely before disaster struck.

But there was always a price to pay when too many inexperienced workers were doing vital work on an airplane. On April 20, 1982, Major Whitley’s stealth fighter was ready to take its Air Force acceptance flight out at the secret base. Whitley himself wanted to take the flight, but that was strictly against our rules. Our veteran test pilot Bob Riedenauer got the assignment. The airplane had performed perfectly during predelivery testing, but the night before the test flight we relocated a servomechanism from one equipment bay to another and rewired it. Riedenauer had barely lifted off the runway when he found to his horror that the wiring had accidentally reversed his crucial pitch and yaw controls. The airplane was only thirty feet off the deck when he flipped over backward and crashed on the side of the lake bed in a billowing cloud of dust. Bob was trapped in the cockpit and had to be cut free, sustaining serious leg injuries that kept him hospitalized seven long and painful months.

A few months after the first successful [SR-71] Blackbird test flight in April 1962, test pilot Bill Park appeared at my desk and dropped his plastic flight helmet in my lap. “Goddam it, Ben, take a look at that,” he said, pointing to a deep dent near the crown. As Bill described it, he was cruising at sixty-five thousand feet on a clear, crisp morning above New Mexico, when suddenly, with his airplane blistering at 2.7 Mach, he was deafened by a loud bang and violently flung forward in his harness, smashing his head against the cockpit glass and almost knocked unconscious. “It felt like a couple of the L.A. Rams shaking me as hard as they could,” Bill said. The problem was called an “unstart.” It occurred when air entering one of the two engines was impeded by the angle of the airplane’s pitch or yaw and in only milliseconds decreased its efficiency from 80 percent to 20 percent. The movable-spike inlet control could correct the problem in about ten seconds, but meanwhile the pilot was flung around helplessly, battered all over the cockpit. Bill Park and Lou Schalk and several of our other pilots were experiencing these awful “unstarts” as much as twenty times in ten minutes. The damndest part was that the pilot often couldn’t tell which engine was affected and sometimes he turned off the wrong one to get a relight and was left with no power at all. This happened to a Blackbird over West Virginia. The pilot struggled to relight both engines as the airplane plunged toward earth. Finally at thirty thousand feet, the two engines came alive with a tremendous sonic boom that shattered windows for miles and toppled a factory’s tall chimney, crushing two workers to death.

Not necessarily that much better flying completed aircraft designs…

(regarding the U-2 spy plane) But [the pilot] also had to guard against climbing too slowly, that is, below 98 knots, or the airplane would stall and fall out of the sky. Above 102 knots the airplane experienced dangerous Mach or speed buffeting. So the slowest it could safely go was right next to the fastest it could go as it climbed steeply to above sixty-five thousand feet. And the shuddering felt the same whether it was the result of going too fast or too slow, so a pilot had to keep totally alert while making corrections. A mistake might make the buffeting worse and shake the airplane to pieces. And to make life more interesting, our test pilots reported that sometimes during a turn the inside wing would be shaking in stall buffet while the outside wing was shaking even more violently in Mach buffet.

At altitude the pilot flew nose high and wings level, so for him to be able to see down we installed a cockpit device known as a drift sight—basically an upside-down periscope that had four levels of magnification and could be swiveled in a 360-degree arc. The pilots also had to plot their navigation by sextant, plotting precise routes while maintaining total radio silence and photographing particular targets with the pinpoint accuracy of a bombardier. A screwup could mean death by ground fire or fighter attack—and a guaranteed international crisis.

More: Read the book.

Development of the First Stealth Fighter


From Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed (Ben Rich)…

Development of the first flying stealth aircraft, “Have Blue,” circa 1977:

Since this was just an experimental stealth test vehicle destined to be junked at the end, it was put together with avionics right off the aviation version of the Kmart shelf: we took our flight control actuators from the F-111 tactical bomber, our flight control computer from the F-16 fighter, and the inertial navigation system from the B-52 bomber. We took the servomechanisms from the F-15 and F-111 and modified them, and the pilot’s seat from the F-16. The heads-up display was designed for the F-18 fighter and adapted for our airplane. In all we got about $3 million worth of equipment from the Air Force. That was how we could build two airplanes and test them for two years at a cost of only $30 million. Normally, a prototype for an advanced technology airplane would cost the government three or four times as much.

We decided to use the onboard computer system of General Dynamics’s small-wing lightweight fighter, the F-16, which was designed unstable in pitch; our airplane would be unstable in all three axes—a dubious first that brought us plenty of sleepless nights.

The pilot tells the flight control system what he wants it to do just by normal flying: maneuvering the throttle and foot pedals directing the control surfaces. The electronics will move the surfaces the way the pilot commands, but often the system will automatically override him and do whatever it has to do to keep the system on track and stable without the pilot even being aware of it. Our airplane was a triumph of computer technology. Without it, we could not even taxi straight.

Bobby didn’t worry about the Navy very long, because we gave him far bigger worries than that: four months before we were supposed to test-fly Have Blue our shop mechanics went out on strike.

The International Association of Machinists’ negotiations with the Lockheed corporation on a new two-year contract failed in late August 1977. Our workers hit the bricks just as Have Blue was going into final assembly, perched on its jig with no hydraulic system, no fuel system, no electronics or landing gear. There seemed to be no way we would be ready to fly by December 1, our target date, and our bean counters wanted to inform the Air Force brass that we would be delayed one day for each day of the strike. But Bob Murphy, our veteran shop superintendent, insisted that he could get the job done on time and meet our commitment for first flight. To Murphy, it was a matter of stubborn Skunk Works pride.

Bob put together a shop crew of thirty-five managers and engineers who worked twelve hours a day, seven days a week, over the next two months. Fortunately, most of our designers were all great tinkerers, which is probably why they were drawn to engineering in the first place. Murphy had Beswick, our flight test head, working with a shop supervisor named Dick Madison assembling the landing gear. Murphy himself put in the ejection seat and flight controls; another shop supervisor named John Stanley worked alone on the fuel system. Gradually, the airplane began coming together, so that by early November Have Blue underwent strain gauge calibrations and fuel system checkout. Because Have Blue was about the most classified project in the free world, it couldn’t be rolled outdoors, so the guys defied rules and regulations and ran fuel lines underneath the hangar doors to tank up the airplane and test for leaks. But how could we run engine tests? Murphy figured out a way. He rolled out the plane after dark to a nearby blast fence about three hundred yards from the Burbank Airport main runway. On either side he placed two tractor trailer vans and hung off one end a large sheet of canvas. It was a jerry-built open-ended hangar that shielded Have Blue from view; security approved provided we had the airplane in the hangar before dawn.

Security and regulations changed substantially over the years at the Skunk Works:

Kelly evolved his own unorthodox security methods, which worked beautifully in the early days of the 1950s. We never stamped a security classification on any paperwork. That way, nobody was curious to read it. We just made damned sure that all sensitive papers stayed inside the Skunk Works.

But security’s dragnet poked and prodded into every nook and cranny of our operation. Keith Beswick, head of our flight test operations, designed a coffee mug for his crew with a clever logo showing the nose of Have Blue peeking from one end of a big cloud with a skunk’s tail sticking out the back end. Because of the picture of the airplane’s nose, security classified the mugs as top secret. Beswick and his people had to lock them away in a safe between coffee breaks.

Security would snoop in our desks at night to search for classified documents not locked away. It was like working at KGB headquarters in Moscow.

I had to tuck away workers so they couldn’t see or guess what it was they were really working on. I had to make us inefficient by having them work on pieces of the airplane that would not reveal the nature of the airplane itself. I couldn’t tell them how many pieces they had to make, and we had to redo drawings to eliminate the airplane’s serial numbers. That alone required significant extraneous paperwork. The majority of the people we hired had no idea that we were building a fighter, or whether we were building ten or fifty.

Kelly had operated in a paradise of innocence, long before EPA, OSHA, EEOC, or affirmative action and minority hiring policies became the laws of our land. I was forced by law to buy two percent of my materials from minority or disadvantaged businesses, but many of them couldn’t meet my security requirements. I also had to address EEOC requirements on equal employment opportunity and comply with other laws that required hiring a certain number of the disabled. Burbank was in a high-Latino community and I was challenged as to why I didn’t employ any Latino engineers. “Because they didn’t go to engineering school” was my only reply. If I didn’t comply I could lose my contract, its high priority notwithstanding. And it did no good to argue that I needed highly skilled people to do very specialized work, regardless of race, creed, or color. I tried to get a waiver on our stealth production, but it was almost impossible.

In desperation I called the Secretary of the Air Force to get those OSHA inspectors off my back. I was told, that’s too hot for us to tackle, thank you very much. So I called OSHA and told them to send me the same inspector who worked the Atomic Energy Commission—a guy cleared for the highest security and used to working with highly sensitive materials. This inspector came out and nickel-and-dimed me into a total of two million bucks in fines for no fewer than seven thousand OSHA violations. He socked it to me for doors blocked, improper ventilation, no backup emergency lighting in a workspace, no OSHA warning label on a bottle of commercial alcohol. That latter violation cost me three grand.

A disgruntled employee, bypassed for promotion, contacted a staff member on the House Government Operations subcommittee and accused the Skunk Works of lax security and claimed that we lost secret documents.

So Congress reached into our board room, and Larry Kitchen was sent to the Hill as the sacrificial lamb instead; he was browbeaten unmercifully before the House Subcommittee on Procedures and Practices. Then the subcommittee’s chairman, John Dingell, a feisty Michigan Democrat, sent a few of his committee sleuths to Burbank to investigate our security procedures. They ordered an audit of all our classified documents from year one—and I almost had a stroke. The first thing I did was drive over to Kelly Johnson’s house and grab back cartons of documents and blueprints and God knows what else, all stored in Kelly’s garage. Kelly operated by his own rules. He said, “Damn it, if they can’t trust Kelly Johnson by now, they can go straight to hell.”

Government auditors discovered some classified documents missing. The documents in question had been properly shredded, but our logging was antiquated and no one recorded the date of the document destruction. It was a bureaucratic foul-up rather than any serious security breach, but tell that to Congress. The government cut my progress payments on the stealth fighter project by 30 percent until I could prove to their satisfaction that I had taken specific steps to eliminate security logging laxness and lost documents. From then on, we were monitored unceasingly. Toward the end of the stealth project I had nearly forty auditors living with me inside our plant, watching every move we made on all security and contract matters. The chief auditor came to me during a plant visit and said, “Mr. Rich, let’s get something straight: I don’t give a damn if you turn out scrap. It’s far more important that you turn out the forms we require.”

More: Read the book.

Where Trump was wrong about Mexican immigrants…


A friend noted that when you buy California-grown avocados at Costco (Waltham, Massachusetts store) they never ripen, but the Mexican immigrant avocados get soft and ripe after 3-5 days at home.

Readers: Is this consistent with your experience? When will the government investigate this issue?

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