Each time the roar of the Blue Angels echo through the streets of Baltimore, as these expertly skilled pilots guide with inhuman precision their glorious blue jets through our city's skies, it's easy to feel that rumble in your gut and have the intended resposnse, "America! Fuck yeah! We're awesome!"
But we live in an age of the Great Republican Recession. We taxpayers live in the current Conservative Age of Austerity. More and more, our elected officials vote to cut public services because, we are told, we can no longer afford them.
Never mind that the rich (now ironically called the "job creators") are experiencing record profits. Never mind we are living in an era of the richest corporations ever in the history of man. We, the taxpayers, can't afford healthcare.
So perhaps we should take a moment to reflect on how much these awesome Blue Angels are actually costing us.
The basic acquisition price of an F/A-18 A Hornet is approximately $21 million per plane. However, after being specially equipped, each plane costs $56 million.
The US Navy budgets about $40 million a year to maintain the squadron.
It costs $13,344,000 in fuel alone (based on 2010 fuel prices) to just train one Commanding Officer and $85,957,200 in fuel for the training of the 14 other pilots.
According to the Boston Phoenix, in 2007, annual salaries for 114 support personnel cost $5.6 million. Pilot salaries cost approximately $12 million annually.
It costs roughly $20 million in fuel expenses for shows (rehearsals and performances, based on 2010 jet fuel price) a year.
Plus, it costs approximately $2 million on staff lodging and meals to do these shows each year.
So based on these numbers, the Blue Angels cost American taxpayers roughly $112 million every year.
In this age of misguided conservative austerity, keep that in mind as the jets fly over Baltimore, a city who can't afford its rec centers. A city that can't afford comprehensive infrastructure maintenance. A city that can't afford to maintain its firehouses. A city that can't afford adequate mass transit.