Anyone who thought the historic landslide election of Barak Obama as President of the United States would spell a quick and easy fix to what ails our country are in for a rude awakening.
Those who believe that come January 20th, 2009, peaches and cream will once again rain from America's skies and the world will retilt upon it's proper axis are setting themselves up for the largest of disappointments.
Beyond the quick fix for our nation's economy, one that will hopefully be the spark to set the Market moving in the right direction once more, lies the dirty corporate secrets that need to be addressed, and addressed quickly.
Throughout the Bush years Corporate America has been allowed to run roughshod over not only worker's rights with no penalties whatsoever from Congress or the White House, but the major players have been ripping off taxpayer money to the tune of untold billions. Oversight having been lax at best, it became incumbent upon groups such as the Project For Government Oversight to attempt to keep track of the goings on behind closed doors in the murky world of corporate and government contracting. What they have documented is a stunning portrayal of outright fraud, theft, mismanagement, refusal of government to prosecute or stop the bleeding, or in some cases, actual collusion to cover up wrong doing.
You've probably never even heard of many of the corporations involved, but others are household names. Names such as Bechtel, Lockheed Martin, Blackwater, Boeing, ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco, FedEx, General Dynamics, IBM, among a host of other companies, including everyone's favorite, Halliburton/KBR. Here's a couple of examples of what's been happening just behind the curtain.
Law enforcement officers across the land can breath a little easier knowing that Armor Holdings Inc. has had to settle a claim brought by the DOJ for the defective Zylon Body Armor vests Armor Holdings was selling the government. The company knowingly put law enforcement officers across the land in danger because Zylon degrades over time to the point that it's ineffective in stopping bullets, but Armor went ahead and wrapped these little death vests around the protectors of the People. Punishment? They were forced to pay back the $30 million their contract paid them.
Bechtel Corporation paid the U.S. government and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts a total of $407 million dollars to settle all criminal and negligence charges leveled against them for their role in the Boston 'Big Dig' debacle. Massive cost over runs, shoddy work that was known to be a danger to the public left in place, and a general carnival of theft of taxpayer dollars caused the settlement to come about. Jail time? Not for these fat cats, even though a woman was killed when the roof of a portion of the massive tunnel project fell and crushed her to death while she was driving through.
In violation of U.S. law, the Boeing Corporation imported the parts used to build the C-17 transport plane, the Apache attack and Chinook transport helicopters and the F/A-18 fighter plane. According to the law, Boeing was required to buy the materials from U.S. companies, but since they found the parts cheaper overseas, they went ahead and purchased them there. They of course then charged the taxpayers for the costs as though they had followed the law and when caught, were fined a 'whopping' $3 million. That amount is akin to thirty cents to an ordinary person. You don't even notice it's gone.
North of the city of Clarksburg, West Virginia, the U.S. government used almost $18 million of taxpayer money to clean up toxic waste that was allowed to seep into the ground beneath a salvage site owned by ExxonMobil. The chemicals that were being buried in the earth or allowed to fester in rusty metal barrels included coal tar, pyrene, phenanthrene, arsenic, aluminum, lead, iron, copper, naphthalene, and phenol. Knowing full well that the seepage was causing elevated cancer rates sickness, birth deformities, and possibly death, ExxonMobil continued to operate the plant as though nothing was wrong. This, despite inspectors from the EPA ordering them to clean up the toxic materials. ExxonMobil, knowing full well that the EPA under the Bush Administration wouldn't enforce more than token penalties, kept on going as is until the government stepped in and did the clean up themselves. To save lives. One would think that after the Valdez, Alaska debacle and final settlement, ExxonMobil would have been slapped with a massive fine, but they ended up paying only $3 million for a $18 million dollar cleanup. Lesson learned by ExxonMobil? There's a government bailout around every corner.
Major modifications were needed to allow the President of the United States to fly safely and undetected on Air Force One when Northrup Grumman sold Russia the source code for the LTN-92 aircraft navigation systems. In complete violation of the Arms Export Control Act, Grumman sold not only that system to Russia, but others like the LTN-72 military version schematics that included plans for aircraft motion alignment, stored heading, steering capability, computer aided release point, tanker orbit, and maximum bank angle. Altogether the U.S. government says that Grumman committed 110 violations of the A.E.C.A., and their fine would be appropriately massive at $15 million. That's right. $15 million. Oh, and they're still making secret military systems, despite the selling of those secrets to not only Russia, but China, Israel, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, China, etc. Guess it's not so secret anymore.
The Hellfire Missile is perhaps the deadliest anti-tank, anti-slow moving aircraft weapon in the world today. The pride and main armament of the Army's Apache AH-64 and the Marine's AH-1W Super Cobra's, these are the first line of defense in a shooting war and are depended on for their battleground superiority. Not anymore thanks to Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of the Hellfire's two variants, the 'BlastFrag' and the 'Heat'. Lockheed Martin, intent on more profits, gave the classified plans, including capability, functionality, performance parameters, etc. to none other than Halliburton safe haven, the United Arab Emirites. Warming to the idea of buying U.S. Hellfire missiles, the U.A.E. Air Force asked for and received the classified plans for the Joint Air To Surface Standoff Missile. Now, remember the A.E.C.A.? Bah? We don't need no stinkin' laws right? The State Department caught wind of this plan to sell the U.A.E., a clearing house for terrorist money, these missiles and pounced to stop it. Completely frazzled over the obvious attempted treason by Lockheed Martin, they did the only patriotic thing available. They settled with Lockheed Martin for the grand sum of $4 million, with $1 million suspended if Lockheed Martin uses the million to institute a remedial compliance program.
These are but the tip of the iceberg of corporate malfeasance complaints, pending actions, court cases, and appeals of rulings flowing through our government, clogging up the system, and grinding forward progress to a halt. The time has come for America to demand real accountability for where our tax dollars our going. Corporations that decide their loyalties lie with their bottom line, and not with their country should be shown no quarter, and be automatically disqualified from ever doing the People's business again.
Because in the end, that's what this past election was really all about. Real change. Change that stops the nonchalant attitude towards Big Business that sells us out to potential enemies, terrorist organizations, and countries we know wish us harm. Treason is an easy word to bandy about, but when one peruses the above examples, what other word could one conjure up?
Stop this massive giveaway to Corporate America and you solve a nice little chunk of our economic crisis. Let the corporate world figure out how to build a product on their own, without taxpayer subsidies, and maybe we can rebuild our infrastructure. And for the love of God, cut the companies that openly laugh at our laws, knowing that a slap on the wrist is their only punishment, off from the People's trust and the People's business. We the People made our voices heard loud and clear on November 4th. Make them heard again and demand an end to these corporate abuses or nothing will have really changed after all.