Friday, November 17, 2006

Outlaw War Profiteering!

Yesterday and today, Randi Rhodes has been talking about something that has been on my mind for a long time.

As in World War II, we need to take a stand - make war profiteering illegal. President Roosevelt said, "I don't want to see a single war millionaire created in the United States as a result of this world disaster". Harry Truman referred to war profiteering as 'treason'. And in 1953, at the height of the Cold War, President Dwight Eisenhower, a real war hero, said, "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

I concur.

According to the Nation,
When he heard rumors of such profiteering, Truman got into his Dodge and, during a Congressional recess, drove 30,000 miles paying unannounced visits to corporate offices and worksites. The Senate committee he chaired launched aggressive investigations into shady wartime business practices and found "waste, inefficiency, mismanagement and profiteering," according to Truman, who argued that such behavior was unpatriotic. Urged on by Truman and others in Congress, President Roosevelt supported broad increases in the corporate income tax, raised the excess-profits tax to 90 percent and charged the Office of War Mobilization with the task of eliminating illegal profits. Truman, who became a national hero for his fight against the profiteers, was tapped to be FDR's running mate in 1944.

In 2003, United for a Fair Economy did a study of defense contractor CEO pay that is worth taking a look at. (Download the .pdf here.) There is a direct correlation between the size of campaign donations and the size of defense contracts. The study found that:
Median CEO pay at the 37 largest defense contractors rose 79 percent from 2001 to 2002, while overall CEO pay climbed only 6 percent, according to a new report from United for a Fair Economy, More Bucks for the Bang: CEO Pay at Top Defense Contractors, by Chris Hartman and David Martin.

Median pay was 45 percent higher in 2002 at defense contractors than at the 365 large companies surveyed by Business Week magazine. The typical U.S. CEO made $3.7 million in 2002, while the typical defense industry CEO got $5.4 million.

The jump in median defense contractor CEO pay far exceeded the increase in defense spending, which rose 14 percent from 2001 to 2002.

Compared with an army private’s pay of $19,585, the average CEO at a major defense contractor made 577 times as much in 2002, or $11,297,548. This is also more than 28 times as much as the Commander in Chief’s salary of $400,000.

The study also looked at the size of campaign contributions by the largest defense contractors and found a strong correlation between campaign contributions made by a company in the 2000 and 2002 election cycles and the value of defense contracts awarded to that company. Ninety percent of the difference in contract size can be accounted for by size of contributions. For example, top arms contractor Lockheed Martin was also the top campaign contributor among defense firms.

The 37 companies included in the CEO pay study were all the publicly-traded corporations with at least $1 billion in total defense contracts from 2000 through 2002. The list includes well-known defense contractors like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, and General Dynamics, as well as some companies not usually associated with military spending, such as FedEx and Dell Computer. Compensation was defined as salary, bonus, “other compensation,” restricted stock awards, long-term incentive payouts, and the value realized from the exercise of stock options.
People, let's be real.

That's what's put us in Iraq, that's what's keeping us in Iraq. This is 'War A-Go-Go', as Country Joe said, and 'there's plenty good money to be made supplying the army with the tools of the trade'.

How ironic that the Kowboy Koward of Krawford is making his first trip to Vietnam right now. As we muddle and muck through this terrible quagmire, American soldiers' lives are still being traded for profits. I can't imagine how difficult it would be to get a law passed today against war profiteering, but I can guaran-damn-tee you that the contractors would be out of there so fast it would make your head spin.

And our kids could come home.

What if they gave a war and nobody came?


Lew Scannon said...

This is just sick. Our soldiers should be worth more than fodder for defense contractors compensation.

Alicia Morgan said...

It's so disgusting an idea that many people are not willing to believe it can be true, but once you stop thinking in terms of human lives and look at soldiers like game pieces, the profit margin is just too juicy to abandon.