Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Your tax dollars at work

There's a reason I like the term "disaster capitalism." The disaster zones can be found in Iraq and Afghanistan; the capitalism has been of the crony variety, thus demonstrating once again Gen. Smedley Butler's dictum that war is a racket, benefiting no one but the racketeers. Not too surprisingly, the crooks occasionally get exposed. Blackwater is in the news again, for example:
Private security contractor Blackwater Worldwide and its affiliates may have misrepresented their size to win more than $100 million in government contracts set aside for small businesses, federal auditors said Monday.
The Small Business Administration's Office of Inspector General questioned the agency's decision to approve Blackwater as a small business even though there were signs the company could be much larger than executives claimed.
In fiscal 2005 through 2007, Blackwater and affiliates won 32 small business contracts worth more than $2.1 million even though the work was restricted to companies with revenue of $6.5 million or less. One contract had a revenue ceiling of $750,000. Meanwhile, Blackwater's airline affiliate won more than $107 million in contracts set aside for companies with revenues of less than $25.5 million or fewer than 1,500 employees.
The audit questioned whether Blackwater could meet any of those limits. Blackwater executives said last week they are on track to reach annual revenues of $1 billion per year by 2010.
Blackwater declined immediate comment on the revenue issue. Auditors urged the SBA to review whether Blackwater's 29 affiliated entities should have any contracts.
Then there's Parsons Corp:
Parsons Corp., one of the largest construction contractors in Iraq, and the Pentagon wasted millions of U.S. tax dollars because of poor oversight and building practices, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction said in a new report.

Parsons completed only about one-third of the construction contracts required to build border forts, prisons, correctional facilities and courthouses under a contract worth as much as $900 million, the report said. Parsons received $333 million for individual construction jobs, or task orders, including $142 million for contracts that were eventually canceled.

The Parsons contract ``entailed the most waste of tax dollars'' of the reviews of Iraq reconstruction contracts conducted so far, Inspector General Stuart Bowen said in a statement e-mailed in response to questions about his report.
Of course stories of corruption abound, although thus far there appears little reason to hope that the perps will actually receive anything even remotely resembling suitable punishment. If anything, I expect the tales to continue to be buried beneath the usual McNews chatter.

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