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All content © 2002-2005 Anne Zook

July 19, 2005
Death and Taxes

I'd like to suggest that 9/11 did not "change everything." I know we've been told it did, over and over, but I've never believed it and I've decided it's time to share that belief with you.

Terrorists have been striking targets around the world for a long time now. We've had terrorist attacks on our soil in the recent past. The idea that this attack "changed everything" and that suddenly terrorist attacks were a bigger problem than they had been on 9/10/2001, is just part of the Bush Administration's propaganda campaign, the one they launched to help them get their way on attacking Iraq.

The entire irrelevance of the Bush Administration's "war on terror" to any actual terrorism, or to making any USofA citizen safer is fairly clear.

On the other hand, our reaction to 9/11 changed a lot of things...although not in a way I find appropriate.

I'll skip the ritual, "because of our reaction to 9/11 we've killed tens of thousands of people who had no connection at all to terrorism" rant. Ditto the "because of our reaction to 9/11, the world is seeing a whole new generation of terrorists appear" rant.

(It aggravates me to consider skipping the, "because of 9/11, we've spent hundreds of billions of dollars and accomplished almost nothing" rant. I agreed with invading Afghanistan. Chasing down the actual terrorists was a good idea. I would certainly have agreed with staying there until we'd finished the job, had that been what the Bush Administration decided to do.)

But what has happened here since 9/11? Cheesy "bring it on" rhetoric aside, what has been the impact on us? What's been the result of the Bush Administration policies?

Well, the stock market tanked after 9/11. It's been years and we're still waiting for it to recover. I just happened to notice here not long ago that there was a major terrorist attack on the U.K. and the London markets recovered in...what? 48 hours?

Ditto our economy. Ditto our job market. Still waiting.

Oh, yes, the Bush Administration took advantage of 9/11 to do a lot of things that made their corporate owners sponsors happy, but none of it seems to be doing much for the average person in this country. Corporate CEOs are still making record-breaking bonuses. Some corporations, at least those who contributed to the right political party, are making record-breaking profits. (Big Pharma, I'm looking at you.) Meanwhile, the little people are losing their jobs (I understand HP is now looking at laying off 14,500 people), or going years without a raise or even a "cost of living" increase.

Speaking of corporate owners sponsors being made happy, let's look at everyone's favorite Halliburton.

First, a bit of history.

1995

Without any previous business experience, Cheney leaves the Department of Defense to become the CEO of Halliburton Co., one of the biggest oil-services companies in the world. He will be chairman of the company from 1996 to October 1998 and from February to August 2000. Under Cheney's leadership, Halliburton moves up from 73rd to 18th on the Pentagon's list of top contractors.

Mr. Cheney done good by them. For a guy without any previous business experience, he sure managed to pull quite a few bunnies out of the DoD hat for his new friends.

Not that it was all smooth sailing. There were a few pesky problems through the years.

1996

Halliburton subsidiary European Marine Contractors (EMC) helps lay the offshore portion of the Yadana natural gas pipeline in Burma. Several human rights organizations allege tremendous human rights abuses are associated with the project, as thousands of villagers in Burma are forced to work in support of the pipeline and related infrastructure. Many lose their homes due to forced relocation, and there are reports of rape, torture and killings by soldiers hired by the companies as security guards for the pipelines.8

Hey, we can't hold the CEO of a corporation responsible for the crimes committed by his corporation on a major money-making project, now can we?

1997

Even with the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act in place, Halliburton continues to operate in Iran. It pays the Department of Commerce $15,000 to settle allegations that the company has broken anti-boycott provisions of the U.S. Export Administration Act for an Iran-related transaction, without admitting wrongdoing.13 Halliburton also continues to do business in Libya throughout Cheney's tenure.

Well, who can blame them? For a piddly $15,000 (Dick's monthly expense account probably exceeded that), they got to make millions upon millions for their shareholders. That's responsible corporate governance!

It's good to be one of the DoD's pet contractors.

The GAO (General Accounting Office), the auditing arm of Congress, reports that KBR overbilled the Army for costs associated with its work in Kosovo. It is revealed that the firm used more workers and equipment than necessary to clean offices and provide electricity and backup power supplies to bases, and charged nearly $86 per sheet for plywood that it bought for $14.06.14 As a result of the GAO's critical report, KBR's logistics contract was not renewed by the military, though the company was re-hired in 1999.

Tsk, tak. Profiteering. Corruption. Fraud. But we're hiring them again, so I guess we can be sure they've cleaned up their act.

1998

Cheney oversees Halliburton's merger with Dresser Industries, one of the companies that helped Saddam Hussein rebuild Iraq's oil infrastructure after the First Gulf War, despite economic sanctions against Iraq. Dresser also had faced major liability issues concerning asbestos which prove to be onerous for the company's financial health.16 Halliburton uses two foreign subsidiaries to do $23 million worth of business with Iraq.17

Don't worry. A deal making sure Halliburton doesn't get hurt by the asbestos thing is working its way through Congress. Rumor has it that Congress is going to limit Halliburton's liability for them.

(Not that there's anything wrong with that. No reason why the federal Congress shouldn't stop all national business to pass a bit of protective legislation for a favored corporation, after all.)

It goes on and on. As does the list of subsidiaries. (Saudi Halliburton Logging? Are there a lot of forests in Saudi Arabia that I'm not aware of?)

Certainly their most recently famous subsidiary, Kellogg Brown and Root Services Inc., is doing booming business. (And have been, since Uncle Sam adopted them as his go-to guys.) KBR's Bush-era income and company growth are impressive.

They're going to have to hire some of our surplus labor to keep themselves going, aren't they?

But that's just Bush/Cheney's bestest favoritist company. What about more traditional defense stocks? Corporations like Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, Boeing, and TRW?

I was going to do a lot of research on them, but in the search I found this, so there's no point in me beating around the bush (so to speak). It's where I was headed.

Are we economically addicted to war?

I think we are. The proof is in the budget. More and more and more money every year for "defense" and less for...well, everything else. (Somehow I suspect this isn't really the "smaller government" that traditional conservatives had in mind. I mean, I'd like to assume that even those lunatics who think the Department of Education should be abolished would prefer schools to SCUDs, but maybe not? Who knows what drives the lunatic fringe?)

I'm pretty sure I quoted this one before, but it's worth repeating.

What gets measured, gets done.

Consider that for a moment. It says more than it seems to. It says that what you focus on is what's important to you. It says that when you single something out, that something becomes a priority.

What is the Bush Administration focusing on? (Hint: Enemies. Killing. Threats. Nuclear power. Biological weapons. Body counts.)

That's right. War.

More and more of your tax dollars are going to fund "defense" which, in the Bush Administration, means killing "them" before any of "them" get the idea to kill us. Execpt for the "us" we send over to kill "them" but omelette-egg and stuff.

If the economic health of our country gets any more entangled with the defense industry, then we'll only be "healthy" in the future when the defense industry is running at full steam. We'll pay taxes that will go mostly to the military to fund the various wars the government is fighting to protect our "corporate" interests.

When people die, we'll thrive.

Gives a whole new perspective to the concept of a "death tax" doesn't it?

Posted by AnneZook at 07:05 PM


Comments

I'm glad that Iraq is nothing like Vietnam, otherwise someone would be bringing up the issue of "guns or butter", and to have to go through the same topics every quarter century would be really annoying.

My grandfather was really annoyed when it became apparent that his service in the Great War, "the war to end all wars" didn't actually accomplish that goal.

When this one is over I guarantee that some idiot is going to stand up and proclaim that we have learned our lesson and have safeguards in place to prevent this from ever happening again.

Posted by: Bryan at July 19, 2005 09:48 PM

And most of us will believe it. Until the next time.

Posted by: Anne at July 21, 2005 08:38 AM