Sunday, August 12, 2007

Iraq Makes the Case for Big Government

So employee appreciation day brought a letter from the head cheese lauding how much we at TSA are "appreciated"... and an increase in employee parking fees with less than a week before the increase goes into effect by automatic withdrawal. More money for a private contractor for whom works a wonderful driver who litterally had the nerve to squash me with the bus door because we weren't loading fast enough. And more part-time employees should swell our ranks soon and take away our weekend hours, just to make us even more enthusiastic about defending the nation from terrorism. For those of you outside of the retail world, from which our cheese takes inspiration, Wal-Mart's brilliant innovation means you hire tons of people part-time, which means if you need them for a little extra, you still don't pay overtime. And also of course, they pay more and you pay less for their benefits. Of course, people who don't get hired full-time are the dregs of the barrel, tend not to show up for work, apply themselves, take their oath as a federal employee seriously, and oh... quit!!

Where's the money? Oh the front page of the WaPost covered how Bush shelled out 548 million over the past three years to two British private mercenary companies to protect the Army Corp of Engineers in Iraq. $200 million over budget!! The average payout per merc per month under these contracts has been $15,000. More than twice what any of the Iraq veterans I work with got paid when they were over there for far more dangerous work. The military claims that this indicates they are saving money, and that the plan to save even more money by consolidating two of the current Green Zone contracts into one, reducing the monthly cost from $18 million to $11 million. One of the companies lost in the first round of bidding and has twice held up the contract award (and the savings) by filing protest lawsuits against the government (costing more money just for the suit, and also because the DoD had to re-eliminate that company). Where are the Republicans who are supposed to be out howling that these people are aiding and abetting the enemy? Spending campaign contributions?

The Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, reported earlier this month that the Defense Dept. has recovered about $2 billion since 2001 from all outside contractors and government procurement officials accused of dishonesty or mismanagement, but the GAO didn't isolate those working in Iraq.

Is your guess that comes curtosy of DailyKos? Oh no- that's BusinessWeek. A year ago. Best known for the deaths of four of it's wayward employees in Fallujah, Blackwater employes about 1,000 in Iraq for $800 million in government contracts. Do 1,000 soldiers cost $800 million? $800 million of your taxpayer dollars of course, as Iraq oil production remains below pre-2003 invasion levels. To buy what, exactly?

Months ago, Bush's administration initiated and then ceased a failed attempt to increase border security by merely requiring everyone who flies into the country to have a valid passport. The core of the administration's failure remains that it created an unfunded mandate, by coming up with a simple idea and then refusing to hire the needed government employees. Imagine what all that fraud would have bought in military terms for our troops in Iraq. Just look to Bush's latest immigration idea, unfunded soundbite mandates to be paid for by small businesses, at least until they figure out that none of it comes with oh... only border agents to enfore the new rules. Who ah.. stay on the border. Get the picture? Perhaps key to a great deal of this administration's failures has been the overwhelming value it places on campaign contributors and the golden calf of small government, and how much it undervalues those patriots who raise their hand and swear to sweat for their country for peanuts.

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