Halliburton

Halliburton had more U.S. taxpayer money tossed its way in the form of bonuses awarded by the Army.

Anyone that does not see a potential serious conflict of interest is simply avoiding the obvious.

I understand that many economic sectors depend upon the misfortune of others. For example, the health care sector depends upon people being sick. The defense sector is no different. Businesses spring up and succeed when they can demonstrate a way to help unfortunate people or alleviate unfortunate situations. This noble aspect of capitalism very often results in efficient, creative and bureaucracy-minimizing solutions to problems.

The problem with Halliburton is not solely the fact that it is making money in Iraq. The problem is that it's former CEO, who still has a financial interest in the company, is in a position to make the decisions that would create the pain & suffering that Halliburton subsequently gets hired to alleviate. I'm not accusing the Vice President of creating a war so that his former company could profit from it. My point is that he is indeed in a position where he could create a war so that his former company could profit from it, and in which he himself could also realize profits. Whatever Mr. Cheney's reasons for so passionately supporting a war in Iraq, nobody should be surprised at those who question his motives. He should have distanced himself from Halliburton, recused himself from war planning and stayed out of the public debate. One cannot convince me that there were not others besides Dick Cheney that could have filled the war planning and promotion role that he filled. How can anyone looking at the facts be angry with someone that questions Cheney's motives?

On a related sidenote, Halliburton is clearly raking it in--even after they have been punished for ripping off the American taxpayer. Meanwhile, uniformed men & women that protect Halliburton's operations continue to die in Iraq while being paid a fraction of what Halliburton's employees receive. There is an argument (somewhat persuasive) that says that private companies can operate a war more efficiently, and thus cheaper, than public forces. This theory holds that the profit motive for a private company creates incentives to eliminate costly bureaucracy--so often the bane of an army. However, I believe it is PROFOUNDLY UNFAIR AND IMMORAL to pay one group of operatives (private) exuberant sums while paying another group of operatives (public) paltry sums to do essentially the same work. In fact, it could be argued that the public employees (i.e. soldiers) have the harder (at least 'riskier') job. A soldier and a Halliburton employee may be creating the same amount of value for the U.S., but are paid vastly different sums based on the organization they are employed by.

The U.S. needs to ratchet up soldier pay if it is going to continue to make defense contractors rich. Or, eliminate public defense altogether and move to a complete mercenary force. I do not advocate this second option, but it seems more fair than the status quo, in which money that should be paid to soldiers gets paid to fat cats in Houston.

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