August, 2002, Volume 9 Nr. 12,
Exactly two years ago, I wrote and published an issue of Metaphoria (June 2000) in which I described (as a final act of my teaching career of 30 years) sitting through a high school graduation ceremony. The invited guest speaker was the champion and high priest of the telecommunications industry and giant AOL-Time Warner -- the newly minted (as I then called it) "mega-gigagantic AOL-EMI-and-whatever-else-there-is-left, Inc". In his speech to the graduating class, set in the pervasive atmosphere of the supposed perpetual Wall Street up-tick and within a national atmosphere of corporate invincibility, the CEO of AOL, etc., presumed that "everyone in the room wants to be a millionaire" and that all wish for fame by appearing on the cover of People magazine (a Time-Warner publication), to become a "Madonna or a Ted Turner." A colleague sitting next to me, possessor of a pseudo-protected "diversified stock portfolio" wistfully muttered, "Capitalism at its best". Ah! The corporate CEO as hero (then) in America speaks. To his credit, Levin did base his speech on why fame and money are not enough, focusing on excellence and especially service.
On July 26, 2002, WBAI (Pacifica Radio) announced that AOL-Time Warner's merger was a disaster. Jerry Levin, left the company in May 2002 with a cool $200,000,000. CNN Money's (Dec 5, 2001) statement, "The merger of AOL and Time Warner has yet to produce all of the synergies promised by Levin", may have been the understatement of the year. And what of AOL's employees? Well, layoffs, of course. God bless the flexible labor markets, i.e., retirement severance packages for CEOs, layoffs for the workers. Capitalism at its best, indeed.
How quickly things change. How abruptly a small but persistent voice, like that of never-ceasing, nagging gnats, a voice often criticized for politicizing everything, can turn prophetic. On July 26, 2002), AOL-Timer Warner stock dropped. The on-line king of Internet shock-jocking, the Drudgereport, put it this way: AOLTIMEWARNER STOCK DOWN OVER 15% IN TRADE SLAUGHTER. Meanwhile, Christopher Grimes in New York and Tim Burt in London report "Broader SEC probe into AOL accounting expected". Take that, all you religious believers in corporate capitalism and profiteers in the greed excesses of the stock market. You fell for it then, and, you're falling for it -- that is war now -- again.
With crony capitalism well entrenched, it will be difficult to placate an increasingly skeptical and knowledgeable public. The public now knows about Harvey Pitt, the head of the SEC. His job is to initiate reforms within the SEC, including a Public Accountability Board with oversight authority over accounting firms. Pitt is a prominent lawyer and comes to the SEC with a history of representing Wall Street Firms and the accounting industry. It's like asking Enron to regulate itself. Meanwhile, the buzzing of the gnats grows louder. As Phil Ochs sang in his song, "When I'm Gone",
The gnat buzzing now unavoidable. They are swarming. At first, they were a minor annoyance. Now, their return is persistent biting beyond dismissal. Two years from now, it will be clear -- again. The corporate hooligans go on with their shenanigans, calling for war today on anyone that disagrees with Imperial America and diverting the public's call for accountability. Al Gore is complaining about the timing of the war on Iraq. Two years from now it will be obvious, as today's clarity frames in vivid perspective the corporate abuses of the recent past and present. That is, when the greedy get in trouble, those in trouble have the nation go to war. Two years from now, we will then be looking backward, as we have done so often in the past, wondering how it was possible that the nation was suckered into yet another debacle designed to prop up a system that is fundamentally a profit making mechanism for the ruling rich that dismisses and damns the poor, the downtrodden, the disenfranchised and the powerless.
America's fixation with finding, defining and redefining enemies, a continuous string of someone else to demonize, fulfills the prophecy of the foreign minister of the now defunct Soviet Union, Eduard Schevernadze. In response to the possible dissolution of his country, Schevernadze said that the U.S. had better be careful what it wishes for. That someday, "we will deny you your enemy."
Since the demise of the USSR in the early 90s, there has been a steady string of bogey men and rogue nations to blame. Failing to redirect the so-called "Peace Dividend" of that time to the needs of the people (us) that funded it, our foreign policy metamorphosed into a quest for domestically palatable and acceptable foreign and scary enemies, any and all enemies -- enemies that can be translated into more corporate profits. Oil is not the only addiction of the imperialists. One must understand that the global weapons industry, i.e., the military industrial complex and its supporting infrastructure, needs enemies to continue the system's profitability.
Our fixation with other nations possessing "weapons of mass destruction" comes from a superpower complex that involves its own guilt. It is a projection of our own past misdeeds onto the worldwide canopy of the other. We call those who would amass weapons of mass destruction as being part of an "axis of evil". Yet, we, are the only nation on planet Earth which has actually used nuclear weapons, used them against not one, but two, civilian targets: Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Then, there is depleted uranium. While we scour the Earth for foreign dictators (only unfriendly ones) who possess biological warfare agents, we ignore our own research and stockpiles. We define rogue states as those possessing nuclear weapons of mass destruction and who have not signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Yet, to our biggest recipient of aid, Israel, who has amassed 400 nuclear weapons and who also has not signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, we give our blessing, and our money -- money that can then be used to further buy weaponry from us.
A recent CSPAN caller, while discussing the imminent invasion of Iraq asked, "Is it because they are dark skinned and they're sitting on oil?" Seldom is the question asked so clearly and frankly. Is it because a system whose pumps are primed for profit via war -- must have that war? So the overarching question becomes, who benefits from war?
Below is a list of the major corporations that are defense contractors to the Pentagon. Like other bottom-line dwellers, many of their profits come from the use of weapons skillfully engineered to kill. The profits come in big quantities -- the bigger the better. However, there is seldom profit to be made from weapons that just sit there. Manufacturing Resources Planning (MRP) suggests that the weapons stock must be sold, moved, used, more bought. A defense contractor has never seen a war that they didn't like. And with the U.S. economy in its sad state thanks to W's mismanagement and the crooks of big business, there's nothing they would like more than wars without end. What a wonderful legacy, that the health of the U.S. economy should be dependent upon the misery of others.
Then again, what else is new? Soccer balls from Pakistan, cheap clothing from Central America, diamonds from Africa, bauxite from Jamaica, gold from South America, cheap electronics from Malaysia, refrigerators from Mexico, computers and TVs from China, slave labor on cotton and tobacco plantations -- labor in sweatshop conditions throughout the ages, often by children -- these never stopped the exploitive profiteers before. Why should a few hundred thousand or millions of deaths stop the empire and its corporate-state now? Since the end of World War II, the United States has dropped bombs on 19 nations.
The Center for Defense Information (CDI) founded by retired military officers, reports that the U.S. Defense Industry employs 2.2 million people. This military industrial complex 1999 awarded $118-billion to contractors for goods and services. The same merger madness of the 90's that brought us the debacle of the 2002 Wall Street crash has been at work in the defense industry. It is a consequence of (the then Secretary of State) Les Aspin's declaration to consolidate or go out of business. And they did. Consolidate, that is. What resulted was a concentration of economic and political power in a few giant corporate hands. CDI notes, for example, that General Dynamics, which operates the huge Electric Boat shipbuilding facility,
Some of the other major 1999 contractors listed by CDI include: Boeing/McDonnell-Douglas, Lockheed Martin Corp., Northrup Grumman, Newport News Shipbuilding, Avondale Industries, Ingalls Shipbuilding, Raytheon Systems, United Defense, Stewart and Stevenson. Many major campaign contributors to the Bush #41 presidency and the Bush #43 Residency.
What to Do?
So, what happens when these corporations and their shareholders and investors want -- no demand -- that their profits post yearly increases in increases? What do you do when the value of Wall Street stocks, those you have duped the workers of the nation into buying via the sanctified 401K Free Market tent revival movement of the 1990s, turns to Wall Paper? You do what the White House administration does. You take advantage of the situation. You find enemies, any enemy, all enemies, and you prepare the public for a lifetime of war. That way these corporations, which now account for almost 50% of government spending, will not suffer a loss in profitability. People with a conscience cringe at the notion that increased wealth is a consequence of someone else's misery. The rest don't pay it a rat's ass. Profit, after all, is, profit.
Let's take a look at the biggest Pentagon players, who they are and how much they received in taxpayer dollars. The top 100 corporations, or as CDI, in appropriate military parlance calls it, FY2001 TOP 100 CONTRACTORS RECEIVING CONTRACT AWARDS, are:
On July 25, 2002, Asif Ismail, writing the piece, "Bush Leads in Donations From Federal Contractors" reports:
On July 27, Reuters reported that,
And to think that $9.7 million doesn't even put you anywhere near close to membership into the cherished centoprofiteer group.
Of particular note on the above list is the private Washington based Carlyle Group, number 13, in the hit parade and the world's largest equity firm. The Carlyle Group's paid senior adviser is George Bush, senior. "The Boston Chronicle and Sentinel" in 2001 published,
This is the same Carlyle Group about which the Village Voice wrote,
( "Bush Sr. Could Profit From War", by Geoffrey Fray, October 11, 2001)
Fray's article further states, "Reports show Carlyle was also a major contributor to his electoral fund." He ends the Village Voice piece:
To drop the jaw even further, consider this: the Bin Laden family was involved with the Carlyle group! And this administration had the chutzpah to run under the banner of honesty and integrity. That promised not even to possess the merest glimpse of impropriety. Sure!
Corpwatch lists the 2001 Top Twenty Republican Donors. "These companies have bought access at the highest level," says Rob Harrison of the Manchester U.K., NGO, Ethical Consumer Research Association (ECRA). So much for integrity.
Just think of it. The receivers of the above donated largesse can have software that crashes without warning Fed Ex'ed home, loaded onto their computers powered by oil with a beer and soy protein bar in hand. They can then act goofy while brushing their teeth and combing their hair. It's all there, from cherry Coke to cream of tartar and terramycin.
As time goes on, those dropping jaws will be full of swarming gnats. Two years from now, those gnats will look prophetic -- again. As the lyric from the song, "Where Have All the Flowers Gone", says, "When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?"
To my former colleagues who just a mere two years ago, bought into the stock market, lock, stock and barrel, you are being duped again. The 1990s were somthing else, weren't they. Oooh Wee! Times were good in the last decade of 20th century. Sean Gonsalves in his piece published on July 30, 2002 in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, entitled "We're Becoming a One-Party Nation" refers to the 90s referring to Alan Greenspan and how "....has termed the infectiously greedy decade of the 90s -- an era symbolized by the ethically challenged 'Slick Willie' Clinton.
As a nation, we better start paying attention to the gnats who are now calling for an investigation into who benefits from the upcoming war. Any wat, but especially the war with Iraq. We better pay particular attention to the timing of the next military action and its proximity to the upcoming national election. We better listen to Scott Ritter, who Salon.com has reported on March 19, 2002 as being,
The controversial former chief U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq [who] says Saddam's weapons of mass destruction are largely disarmed, the "Iraqi threat" is built on a framework of lies and President Bush has betrayed the American people.
and for once in your lives, think!
Gnats! Plenty of gnats!
Gnats! Sucking blood in
Gnats! Vile annoying
Gnat! Turning attention
Gnats! How glad to be you.
Gnats! Ignored for only
Gnats! Why do you and I
© 2002 Jozef Hand-Boniakowski, PhD