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Flashback: Boeing Outsources 737 MAX Software to $9-an-Hour Engineers

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Boeing has been under fire lately for several deadly crashes involving its 737 Max aircrafts in 2019.

Bloomberg did a report back in 2019 spilling the beans on what potentially could have caused these crashes.

According to Boeing engineering veterans, the software mistakes that led to the deadly crashes, were allegedly the result of “a push to outsource work to lower-paid contractors.”

The Max software was developed when Boeing was down-sizing and cutting experienced engineers. The aerospace company was also pressing suppliers to cut costs.

According to Mark Robin, a former Boeing software engineer who worked in a flight-test group that supported the Max, recent college graduates working for Indian software developer HCL Technologies Ltd. occupied several rows of desks in offices across from Seattle’s Boeing Field.

The HCL coders were usually making designs according to specifications from Boeing.  However, “it was controversial because it was far less efficient than Boeing engineers just writing the code,” Rabin claimed. Frequently, he recalled, “it took many rounds going back and forth because the code was not done correctly.”

Boeing’s work with Indian companies had appeared to reap the company many benefits. Over the years, the company won several contracts for Indian military and commercial aircraft, for example, a $22 billion one in January 2017 to supply SpiceJet Ltd. That order featured 100 737-Max 8 jets and marked Boeing’s largest order ever from an Indian airline. This was significant given that Airbus has traditionally dominated in India.

Based on resumes published on social media, HCL engineers helped develop and test the Max’s flight-display software, while employees from another Indian company, Cyient Ltd., dealt with software for flight-test equipment.

“Boeing was doing all kinds of things, everything you can imagine, to reduce cost, including moving work from Puget Sound, because we’d become very expensive here,” said Rick Ludtke, a former Boeing flight controls engineer who was laid off in 2017. “All that’s very understandable if you think of it from a business perspective. Slowly over time it appears that’s eroded the ability for Puget Sound designers to design.”

Rabin, the former software engineer, recalled one manager saying at a meeting that Boeing didn’t require the services of senior engineers because its products were allegedly “mature.”

Rabin, who was laid off in 2015, said, “I was shocked that in a room full of a couple hundred mostly senior engineers we were being told that we weren’t needed.”

Other aerospace engineers have commented on Boeing’s cutthroat business policies.

“Engineering started becoming a commodity,” claimed Vance Hilderman, who co-founded a company called TekSci that supplied aerospace contract engineers and began to lose work to overseas competitors in the early 2000s.

U.S.-based avionics companies offshore aggressively by shifting more than 30% of their software engineering abroad in contrast to 10% for European-based firms in recent years, said Hilderman, an avionics safety consultant with multiple decades of experience.

Hilderman also spilled the beans on the wage gaps between America and countries like India.

Bloomberg noted the following:

Engineers in India made around $5 an hour; it’s now $9 or $10, compared with $35 to $40 for those in the U.S. on an H1B visa, he said. But he’d tell clients the cheaper hourly wage equated to more like $80 because of the need for supervision, and he said his firm won back some business to fix mistakes.

Boeing remains relevant given its role in the military-industrial complex. On top of that, 2024 presidential aspirants like Nikki Haley sit on its Board of Directors.

This brings up questions about a potential conflict interest. It’s no secret that Haley has hawkish views on foreign policy. Given her position at Boeing, she will likely push for interventionist policies abroad that would boost Boeing’s stock and create an artificial demand for aircraft and other equipment.

To add insult to injury, Boeing has embraced full-blown globalism by outsourcing jobs, as Middle America is stuck with funding never-ending wars and seeing their jobs shipped overseas.

This is a winning scenario for the globalist elite in D.C. But for Middle America, it’s a total disaster.

Big League National Security

Will Josh Hawley be the Next Champion for an America First Foreign Policy?

America First May Have its Next Leader to End Wars Abroad

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Does America First have a new non-interventionist champion?

Missouri Senator Josh Hawley has been viewed by many as one of the figures who could potentially lead a Trumpist movement after Trump, should Joe Biden end up being installed as president on January 2021.

Hawley has made a name for himself as a champion of Middle America and questioning the neoliberal orthodoxy on immigration and trade. Lately, Hawley has made a pivot towards  questioning the interventionist conventional wisdom on foreign policy. 

In early October of this year, the Missouri Senator called for the American government to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. Hawley tweeted, “Almost 20 years now in Afghanistan. Long past time to draw this war to an end.”

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Hawley’s foreign policy has been a work progress over the past two years. During a 2019 speech Hawley gave at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), he questioned the nation-building policy prescriptions of previous administrations, demonstrating some degree of skepticism towards non-stop interventionism abroad on the part of the Senator.

That said, it remains to be seen if Hawley’s legislative record will fully match his rhetoric.

Hawley is a staunch China hawk, who fears the rise of China and is a strong voice against China’s expansionist efforts. Hawley’s track record shows that his foreign policy views are rough around the edges. Daniel Larison of The American Conservative is not as optimistic about Hawley judging by his votes on the Yemeni Civil War. Larison cited several of Hawley’s votes that may be cause for concern:

Sen. Hawley voted against the Senate’s resolution of disapproval that opposed the president’s effort to circumvent Congress with a bogus “emergency” to expedite arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. More important, he voted with the president and most Senate Republicans against the antiwar Yemen resolution that would have cut off all U.S. support to the Saudi coalition.”

Nevertheless, Hawley’s comments on Afghanistan are a good sign that Hawley is catching on to the fact that Americans are tired of foreign wars. Politicians can change their views and behaviors. Hawley is likely recognizing that the America First movement is exhausted by the endless wars and wants candidates and elected officials who offer withdrawal plans. 

After looking at the list of people who have been tapped to join the Biden administration, Hawley tweeted, “What a group of corporatists and war enthusiasts – and #BigTech sellouts.”

Journalist Glenn Greenwald, a fierce interventionist skeptic, maintained cautious optimism about Hawley. In a tweet, he commented, “All kinds of reasons to be skeptical of the authenticity here, but — purely as a matter of rhetoric — just imagine any national Republican speaking this way about a Dem administration even 10 years ago. The framework of politics is radically shifting.”

The jury is still out on Hawley. Regardless of flaws in his voting record, America First advocates should continue to push him and other America First leaning Republicans in the right direction. We should never forget that politicians are still receptive to political pressure and the grassroots holds the keys to political change. 

Young senators like Hawley are the future of American politics and it makes sense for foreign policy restrainers to lobby them and push them in a direction that favors non-interventionism.

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