Of Winners and Losers
We know who always loses when something goes wrong, the poor. They're used to it. Only those with money expect the government to be Johnny-on-the-spot with help when life goes sideways on them. The poor, like those stuck in the muck in New Orleans, may be angry, but they are hardly disillusioned. Being left to drown and rot during a hurricane is just same-old, same-old for the losers among us.
And then there are those who always seem to win when something awful happens. They're used that too. A war breaks out someplace and it's, "great, get the rebuilding contracts ready. Not to worry, they're already pre signed." Because if there's anything the US government can do fast it's hand out money to those who share come election time.
And so it came to pass in Iraq, and now in New Orleans. Look who's getting it easy rebuilding the Big Easy. You may recognize them because they are the same companies that have been getting fat off rebuilding Iraq.
The usual suspects: Bechtel, Fluor, Halliburton.
It's all in the family really. Halliburton's Kellogg. Brown & Root and another company tapped to rebuild N.O., Shaw & Co., are both clients of former FEMA head, and Bush fundraiser, Joe Allbaugh. You might recall, Allbaugh was the guy who got current FEMA director, Mike Brown, the job. They were roomies in College. Old School, you know.
These chums are now first in line to tap the first $100 billion in rebuilding funds.
I'm not surprised, and neither are any of the thousands of poor homeless families standing in line for the basics of life in relief centers. Now they just have to wait and watch as the nice white men are going to rebuild their city.
The big question now is, whose city will it be once they are done rebuilding it? Already the winners are working to set up vast trailer cities out far from New Orleans. The losers suspect those relocation camps will end up being their "new city," not New Orleans.
(One local leader remarked last week, "We've been trying to for 25 years to get rid of those public housing projects, and it only took Katrina a hour to get the job done."
But hey, New Orleans is one of helluva franchise --- a real potential gold mine. That is if the winners can just clean the damn place up. All the French Quarter needs the a bit of buffing up by Disney Corp. to transform itt into a "family friendly" vacation destination. But those poor areas need a total do-over. Imagine thousands of quaint yuppie condos, walking distance to the French Quarter. Man alive, a developer could get $300,000 of a one bedroom for one of those puppies. They can almost smell it, especially if the former "bad elements" are hundreds of miles away cooling their brown heels in tin can houses in some Georgia pine forest.
And look who's first at the "give me" trough down in Mississippi – the casinos. For years casino interests have fought a state law that required their gambling palaces float. Now they are about to get the right to build them on dry land. Who's dry land? Can you spell "eminant domain?" The Supreme Court has already cleared the legal path for local officials to decide that if a loser's house is in the way of something more lucrative, the house goes to make room for the lucrative.
So it was urban renewal -- messy, brutal but effective. A category 4 wrecking ball of a hurricane. A gift to the winners from a loving and compassionate God. Intelligent design, in action. (Ironically it may have been the winners who gave us these super hurricanes too by denying that greenhouse gases cause global warming --- just as tobacco companies denied smoking was addictive and caused cancer, even though they knew it was and did -- felon see, felon do.)
Oh, I know what some will say – "Those companies get contracts like Iraq and New Orleans because they are the only companies big enough and with the resources and experience to do jobs like those.
Yes, true, but how did they achieve such positions of contractual hegemony in the first place? That's the question. The answer is in the numbers.
Bechtel Group Inc.
The Contributions: $1,303,765 (59 percent to Republicans; 41 percent to Democrats)
Total to President Bush: $6,250
The Contributions: $708,770 (95 percent to Republicans)
Total to President Bush: $17,677
The Contributions: $25,000 Presidential Dinner
Total to President Bush: $5000.00
Add Yourself to the Blame Game
While the lion's share of the billions of taxpayer money needed to rebuild New Orleans will go to such winner companies, the Bush administration is encouraging the rest of us to dig deeper and contribute to non-govermental organizations (NGOs) like the Red Cross. "Give generously," President Bush pled last week because, with so much taxpayer money going to the winners, someone has to feed and house the losers.
We're a nation of mega-suckers. Just when I think they can't get away with squeezing anything more out of us, they do, and with our help no less. They want to give the winners a few hundred of billion in tax breaks, and we agree -- and for what? For a lousy $600 check. That's my definition of chumps.
They start a war on false pretenses, crap up an entire nation half way around the world, and then ask us to to cough up a quarter trillion bucks to clean up the mess they made. We agree and they give much of that money to the usual suspects-- at least those who have agreed to return a portion of it to their benefactors during the next election cycle. The term "sucker" is too weak to describe us. We are beyond suckers. We are sheep, pushing and shoving one another aside to be first in line at the packing house.
They send our kids to fight and die in an insurgency they created, while their own kids finish college, start jobs and families, and we let them. Why? Because they assure us that, "it's worth it," -- worth the lives of our children, but not theirs. Meanwhile, the Commander-in-Chief won't even drag himself to a single funeral -- not one -- of any of the 2000 GI's who died for him. And, once again, we let him get away with it. We don't even seem to think it's wrong. We are flag-waving, slogan-repeating, accomplices to murder and infanticide. Yes we are.
This whole mess was created -- and is maintained -- by both political parties addicted to corporate money as addicts to heroin or crack. They can no longer imagine political life without the stuff. All Americans are created equal -- as long as their contributions are. Just ask the hundreds of thousands of poor losers whose new mailing addresses now reads, "formerly of New Orleans." You won't find their names on contribution lists of candidates of either party.
But don't blame just Bush & Co. and clueless, spineless Democrats. We know what they are and we've known it for years. Nevertheless, we've handed them our nation, our constitution, our Bill of Rights, our money and now, once again, our children. So, as we play "the blame game," add your name to the list. We are a nation of suckers, and enablers. We are beneath contempt, and will stay there as long as we let same-old, same-old remain the status quo.