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By Robert Greenwald and Derrick Crowe

On Tuesday, the military contractors behind the “Second To None” campaign plead “no comment” to our War Costs campaign's full-page Politico ad exposing the economic damage caused by massive war budgets. The same day, they announced a press conference and the upcoming launch of a national campaign to scare people about job losses if we cut the war budget. It seems like they had a comment or two after all. But as these companies gather at the National Press Club on Wednesday morning to frighten you into funding their trust funds, remember: military spending costs us jobs compared to other ways of spending the money.

These contractors will undoubtedly try to obscure the fact that every $1 billion of military spending costs anywhere between 3,200 and 11,700 jobs or more when compared to other ways of spending the money. They’ll probably also try to obscure the fact that because the deficit committee has to find spending reductions equaling a certain dollar amount, this is a zero sum game, pitting military spending against the exact kinds of spending that would create more jobs. If the industry is right, and we should be coming at the question of where to cut spending from the perspective of job creation, then we have to cut war spending because other cuts would cost even more jobs.

Reporters should also keep in mind that these folks have a history of fudging jobs numbers when they feel it’s expedient for their profit margins. For example, back when Second-To-None-backer Lockheed Martin was trying to secure additional taxpayer dollars for its F-22 fighter jet in 2009, the contractor grossly inflated the number of jobs sustained by the program. The actual job numbers should have been less than 40 percent of those claimed by Lockheed. When this industry comes at you with jobs numbers, caveat emptor.

All this assumes, of course, that we buy the war industry’s spin that for them, it’s all about the workers. If one looks at these companies’ histories, that’s an absurd assumption. The organization through which the industry organized the Second To None campaign, the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), includes on its executive committee representatives of companies which have paid more than $130 million in labor-related fines and settlements in the last 10 years, according to the Project on Government Oversight’s contractor misconduct database. These violations include sexual harassment; Americans with Disabilities Act actions; federal safety standards violations; wrongful termination; age, sex and racial discrimination; and whistleblower retaliation.

Almost all of the above war industry misbehavior takes place on the government dime, of which the companies behind Second To None and AIA are very, very poor stewards.  Their leadership [.pdf] includes executives at three of the companies cited by the recent Wartime Commission on Contracting's eye-popping report [.pdf] on the waste of $60 billion: DynCorp, ITT Corporation and L-3 Communications (The report discusses "ITT Federal Services," which is a subsidiary of ITT Corp.). In addition, the companies represented on AIA's executive committee have been responsible for a bucket-load of documented misconduct in federal contracting worth more than $5.7 billion since 1995, according to POGO’s database.

We’re having a hard time here understanding why we should look to the corporations behind Second To None to hire workers or spend our hard-earned money. Maybe they’d like to comment about that.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The war profiteers and their corporatist brothers (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LaFeminista, howd

    own the U.S. government.  Plain and simple.

    •  No, the Capitol Hill Gang (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      rely on private corporations, military and civilian, as their enforcers to keep the electorate in line.  
      When government by the people raises its head, the only entity threatened by the dispersed power situation that popular government represents is the gang of petty potentates in Washington--people who are in office for power, rather than public service.

      Sometimes, following the money is misleading.  In part, that's because the Congress, which is supposed to be responsible for the purse strings, has partially privatized that function by handing it off to the Federal Reserve.  But, that's sort of a fake.  Because, in making appropriations for purchases, the Congress still decides whom to reward and whom to punish.  Currently, workers are being punished because they haven't been voting right.  Although the replacements aren't any better than the old guard, 59 freshman in the House has put fear into the hearts of people for whom longevity is the sole objective.

      It is perhaps instructive that the first crack in "sovereign immunity," the principle which holds that public officials' decisions cannot be challenged, unless they are obviously self-serving, came about as a result of military contractor abuses during World War II and the passage of the Federal Tort Claims Act in 1947. There's a section of code referred to as 1984, which strikes fear into the hearts of public officials at all levels of government because it says they can be sued as individuals for malfeasance or negligence.  In other words, the legal protections attendant to their position are not available in some cases and their personal fortunes are at risk.

      That's the reason, IMHO, for the constant Bush/Cheney insistence that the orders to torture were consistent with legal advice.  It's the only cover they have to protect them from being sued as individuals by the detainees.  Since it's unlikely that anyone will be able to prove that Bush/Cheney got any personal benefit from having people tortured (benefit being a necessary component of crime), a criminal conviction is much less likely than a civil action.

      by hannah on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 02:14:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  too bad war profiteers aren't under the same (3+ / 0-)

    scrutiny as public employees.

    Who cares what banks may fail in Yonkers. Long as you've got a kiss that conquers.

    by rasbobbo on Tue Sep 13, 2011 at 09:43:35 PM PDT

  •  The war machine is a bad long term investment (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RobertGreenwald, Russgirl

    "Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." Arundhati Roy

    by LaFeminista on Tue Sep 13, 2011 at 09:46:27 PM PDT

  •  Bad Stewards (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I am pleased to see the stewardship obligation referred to.  However, I think that to ring a bell with religious persons who need to be alerted to the nature of the malfeasance that's been committed in their name, the term "unjust steward" is preferable.

    While the parable of the unjust steward is confusing to many people who don't get irony or sarcasm and don't get why it was a good idea for the steward who was about to be canned for poor stewardship to write down the debts his master was owed, that he was feathering his nest just like the revolving-door guys in Washington seems worth elucidating.  You could have an ethical, legal and financial lesson all rolled into one.
    Why giving away someone else's assets is so difficult to prove as a crime is because our criminal code presumes a direct benefit by the agent from the act.  When the proceeds of a theft are given to someone else, it's difficult to prove who the instigator was. Triagulation, it's such a handy tool.  Think of the judge ordering a criminal defendant to make "restitution" to the judge's favorite charity, an organization (Boys Club?) that is in a position to recommend that judge when he comes up for a retention vote.

    Doing stuff on behalf of someone else is a nifty way to obscure responsibility.

    by hannah on Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 02:26:34 AM PDT

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