Just What Is Grumman Selling?

It's not that I didn't take the federal budget problems seriously. I did. But while I watched This Week With David Brinkley in early October, with Vice President Dan Quayle, Sen. Jim Sasser (D-Tenn.), and Rep. Vin Weber (R-Minn.) debating the benefits of capital gains cuts versus raising the income tax rates of the most wealthy by a few points, I had to smile. Actually I got bored.

That is until the commercials came on. Now these aren't your normal commercials for pine cleaner or microwave popcorn -- not on Sunday mornings during the news shows. These commercials really tell me a lot about the current state of the world. And I, for one, don't much like it.

A few years ago, I saw a Drexel Burnham Lambert commercial for the first time. You know the one: "This playground wouldn't have been built if it weren't for the financial security provided by Drexel Burnham." Yeah, we know that security now. There are a lot of schools and bridges and parks that won't be built while middle-class Americans pay for Michael Milken's fun.

Now, of course, we have a series of commercials for major defense contractors. Grumman has some good ones. With "tensions relaxing" because of the demise of the Cold War (a chilling thought for the military-industrial enterprises, I am sure), Grumman has developed a "Technology That Makes Sense Today."

But let's be clear. This technology isn't for freon-free freezers or solar-based room heaters. It's for satellites that "continuously monitor the Earth for ... anti-ballistic launchers" and battlefields for troop movements, as well as for gadgets that aid America in low-intensity conflicts in jungles and deserts around the globe.

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