moral dilemma

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    For the past year I have had my heart set on getting a job in Antarctica. All the great advice from this website worked and yesterday I was offered a Primary Contract for my job of choice. Unfortunately what should have been a happy day wasn’t b/c two weeks ago I decided that for moral reason’s I couldn’t work for Raytheon. Has anyone else had a moral dilemma in accepting a job with them? Any thoughts on this would be appreciated.



    Hi Sky,

    Like many corporations, Raytheon is divided up into separate business units (essentially separate companies within the larger company). RPSC is one such entity, a subdivision of RTSC (Raytheon Technical Services) which provides staffing and logistical support for technical programs around the world, defense and otherwise. RPSC is not a military organization, and (hopefully) they don’t facilitate killing people or taking over other governments. There’s a lot of good people working there.

    This is not meant to be an apology for corporate America or RPSC; in fact a lot of RPSC employees have misgivings about working for a [parent company] defense contractor. But the fact is that if you work for a large company you will probably be faced with similar ‘moral dilemmas’ rather often, and many corporations have their fingers in a lot of different pies.

    All I can suggest is that either a) you stand by your moral convictions and continue life with a guilt-free mind but empty pockets, or b) swallow your pride and work for someone you otherwise wouldn’t associate with, or c) finally recognize that corporate America is simply following the almighty dollar, same as you are, and that such moral perplexities are actually caused by government policies, not your employer, and that your efforts would be better spent trying to improve our democratic society.

    Take the job. See the world.



    If it makes you feel any better, we’re kind of the bastard step-children of the Raytheon corporation.
    If you don’t take the job, someone else will.  At least you have the opportunity to help support science, and perhaps make a difference in a positive way.
    In the words of St. Nike – ‘Just do it’.


    Glen is correct. These are all companies owned by a parent company. Prior to this, as a boater, Raytheon was the company that made radars to keep sailboats safe. I really didn’t pay much attention to the military side. those are a whole different set of companies.
    Raytheon Polar Services is owned by Raytheon Technical Services, which is owned by Raytheon. To get to the military side, you have to go up the ladder and back down again. To the best of my knowledge there is nobody down here that has ever worked for the military side of the company. If they are they are in the background and keep quiet about it.


    Hey Sky…
    I suppose I ought to offer the disclaimer that I have worked for both the military and civilian side of a previous contractor (ITT) but that was a few years ago. ITT had the contract in the 80s. Things have changed just a bit since then when the military was still basically RUNNING McMurdo.

    The other folks here are right. RPSC basically a separate little company, and in any case you are not making a lifetime committment, just a short term contract to make some money which we all need, while working in a neat part of the world that few people get to see. And the bills for this contract are being paid by the National Science Foundation…remember, if there were no scientists on the ice we might still be ignorant of the ozone hole and some of the other cutting edge stuff they are learning about global warming.

    One of my philosophies is that it is always better to travel to neat parts of the world if someone is paying you to do so than vice versa.

    So please do tell us about what your job offer is for, and where!


    Gee….I feel like the flea on the dogs tail but did Sky ever reveal “What”
    the moral dilema was?!? Is it of a military concern or something else?


    Test your celebrity IQ.  Play Red Carpet Reveal and earn great prizes!


    Thank you all for responding to my message. This has been one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make in a long time and it was nice to get different people’s view on the subject. While I still have hesitations about working for a defense company I think I’ve decided to take the position, although who knows if it’s already been filled by someone else. I’ll just have to eat a lot to try and decrease Raytheon’s profits…

    You will have to forgive me for not disclosing any information about the position right now, I will say it’s in McMurdo.

    Hope to see you on the ice,


    My dilemma is about working for a defense company. I am not so naive to think that we don’t need them but Raytheon’s war profiteering is nauseating. As President Truman said, nobody should get rich off war.



    Sorry, Sky … hate to tell you this, but the more you eat, the more they make (it’s a cost-plus contract).

    This contract nets Raytheon Corporate about as much in a year as they make on the sale of a handful of missles used in a single day in Iraq. Except for the president’s propaganda once a month in the RPSC newsletter, you won’t even notice Raytheon corporate (the parent of RPSC).

    The fact is, to get stuff done in Antarctica requires deep pockets and defense contractors have them. Even if the contract moves to someone else, the new company will always have a side of it that somebody won’t like.

    I’m not encouraging you to give up your beliefs but we all need to put them in the context of what “I” can do about a given situation. Voting for different people in office may change Raytheon from a missle builder to a tree-hugging ecology company if there’s money in it. But you not taking a job with them as a protest will only keep you from seeing one of the last best places on earth, not to mention the work, lifestyle and great people you will not meet.


    And speaking of moral dilemmas … One thing about working on the Ice is when I’m finished I literally can go anywhere in the world I want to. I’ve planned an RTW with extended time in Asia. I don’t know if I can get a visa to get in to Burma/Myanmar, but I’ll be in all the other SE Asian countries. I also have China on the list (timed for the Olympics if I can make it that long on the road).

    What do you think about visiting in particular those two countries?

    I’m of the notion that by myself I can’t change those countries’ policies and by not visiting I’m limiting my exposure to them and my ability to speak about them with friends and family back home. If I go and witness some of this (good and not-so good), then that seems to me more powerful than not visiting.



    While Raytheon is the current support contractor as others have said, the National Science Foundation has the overall responsibility for the program.  RPSC may think they run things but trust me, NSF calls all the shots.  Years ago the Navy had a significant role but the overall “funding and management” responsibility was transferred to NSF in the early 70’s.  It was a struggle for a number of years to explain to the DOD folks that he who had the gold made the rules” but today it’s clearly an NSF show.  Many of individuals that work for the contractor really say they work for NSF and are paid by this contractor and they will move to the next contractor in the future.

    Bottom line, put your moral dilemma aside, it’s not an issue.

    Been There



    Morals???  I’ve heard of those.  Haven’t encountered any in quite a while, though…


    BT is right on the mark, Sky.   Raytheon Polar Services Company isn’t a defense contractor. It’s a company that  provides polar base management and that is the only thing it does.

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