Studies have shown that economists are the most likely of all academic professions to leave a movie before it is over. Economists, unlike the rest of us, understand that the money spent on a movie ticket is gone as soon as it has been paid. Even if we sit through a terrible film to the bitter end we will not recoup our cash. It is gone, it is not an investment, and no amount of our wasted time will redeem its expenditure.
The United States government has paid a vast amount of money to develop and produce a relatively small number of F-35 jet fighters. The amount it plans to spend to buy as many as several thousand for the U.S. Air force, Navy, and Marines is quite literally incalculably more.
Those who urge that the F-35 project continue believe that if the project were to be abandoned now the money that has been spent would have been wasted and that only the expenditure of more U.S. tax payers’ dollars can save it. The money already spent is gone, it cannot be recouped. No matter how many F-35's the U.S. should procure in the future, the money already spent will remain spent.
What the U.S. should be looking at is how much money they have to spend in the future on Air Power. What is the best use of that money? Should the troubled F-22 be put back into production? Would a new fleet of strategic bombers be a better use of available funds? Is it time to resurrect the ideal of the single purpose light fighter? There are a lot of questions to answer but none of them is about how to "save" the money already spent on the F-35.
Another good question, how does this relate to Canada?
The government and the Canadian Armed Forces have money to spend on the Air Force. The questions they should be asking are; how much money will we have to spend and what is the best use of that money? If it should turn out that buying 65 F-35 fighters is the right answer then more power to them. If the answer is that the money could be better spent elsewhere to achieve the effects Canada wants then let's do that. What we should not do is focus on one airplane and the money and time and prestige that have already been spent. These things are gone. If it's time to walk out of the movie let's do it.