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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Who's getting paid for war?

Just doing the math, I've got to say I'm confused. What's the mark-up on our two wars (remember Afghanistan?). I'm going to use VERY rough numbers. Say, we've got 100,000 soldiers on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan. Estimates for war spending are that we've spent $400 billion in four years. That's $100 billion per year for 100,000 troops. That is a million dollars a year per soldier -- $4 million per soldier so far. Figure $50,000 of that a year is salary and benefits and we're looking at $950,000 each year. But, are we building new tanks? Are we building new airplanes. No, we're using shit we already have. OK, there's support staff: food, communications, logistics, etc. But, come on! A million bucks per soldier?

Here's my point. Hawks see war as a business. Certainly, Dubai-based Halliburton sees it as a business. (A quick digression -- I've got to chuckle at all my pro-war friends who defended Halliburton, the money it raked in and the free enterprise system and who are now pissed that they took the money and ran to Arabia.)

Since war is a business, why in the hell are we paying retail? Let's let companies prove their patriotism by cutting their costs. Have workers sign up for volunteer shifts to manufacture bombs. Set a limit of breakeven plus one-percent for manufactured weapons. Instead of giving beJesus amounts of money AND tax breaks, focus solely on tax breaks. It is the rational and human thing to change this paradigm where companies see profit in bloodshed and horror. I argue that America provides these companies unlimited opportunity -- in OTHER fields -- a stable society and business-friendly policies. THOSE are what should be the quid pro quo for war vendors. Weapons manufacturers that sell to the highest bidder destroy global quality of life. We should always Buy American in times of war. Not Israeli, not Belgian, not Australian, Russian or Chinese. We make our own tanks at home and make them on the cheap. We keep the industry within our borders and refuse to let it gouge us.

Sounds reasonable to me.

We regulate the hell out of some industries, banking, telecommunications, education, but when it comes to war, basically anything goes. It's bassackwards.

link | posted by Jae at 9:52 AM |


Blogger CB commented at 6:32 AM~  

I just finished some work for a defense contractor. It is a minority owned firm that was recapitalizing because of a dispute with the minority (less than 50%) owners. The firm got preference in contracting because of its 8(a) - small business, SDB - small disadvantaged business and Hubzone - locating a principle office in an area with 70% or more minority population. Because of those 3 preferential designations, they won a significant amount of business.

These firms as well as non small business firms not only compete, but they team up to win business. Much of the work is subcontracted to firms on the "team." There are several types of contracts that the DCAA -defense contracting audit agency - awards, - large business suite, small business suite, etc. and several firms/teams within each suite are selected to perform the contracts. Winning only means that they have the right to bid on task orders.

The work includes things like cleaning tanks, physical therapists, even secretaries are bid and hired through this process. Also, when you hear about these huge numbers and no bid contracts, don't be decieved. For example, this firm I represented won a $9 billion IDIQ (indefinite quantity, indefinite delivery) contract. Sounds huge right? It represents less than $600,000 a year to the company.

Blogger CB commented at 6:46 AM~  

Two other things;

The largest part of the award is the expense associated with employee salaries and benefits. Small businesses are the ones that make the lion's share of the money and in towns like Huntsville Alabama, there are a lot of these firms.

When companies win these contracts, they don't hire entirely new staffs, they do what's called a badge swap. Someone living near Ft. Leonard Wood Mo. for example, may work for 10-15 firms over the course of their career doing exaclty the same job.

Blogger troutsky commented at 10:20 PM~  

I guess i don't know where to begin! CB, are you for real? Your like a caricature of a conservative. As for reforming the Mlitary Industrial Complex, how about some strong Unions so the bullet makers get good pensions? A killing combination for a new Middle Class! (Im being facetious)

Blogger plez... commented at 8:38 PM~  

Vietnam taught the Military Industrial Complex how to make money, even while we were losing the war! War will continue to be big business for those who make the bullets, those who make the guns that fire the bullets, and those who sell the uniforms for the soldiers who carry the guns that fire the bullets.

The Iraqi War was a forgone conclusion on the day that the Florida Secretary of State disenfranchised the residents of that state and selected George W. Bush as the President of the United States... our tax dollars have been lining the pockets of his and Dick Cheney's friends ever since!

I'm with you 100% on this one... there is so much money made from the waging of war, I sincerely believe that the War on Terrorism has a profit motive attached to it. It should be TREASON to profit from supplying the goods of war.

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