Friday, September 09, 2005

Now the real looting begins

While the nation is distracted by the horrific images of death and suffering coming from the Gulf coast, the Bush oligarchy is looking to fatten the wallets of the already wealthy.

Three examples will suffice, but be assured that Dick Cheney's visit to the region yesterday had nothing to do with storm victims and everything to do with laying the groundwork for Halliburton and other Republican donors to obtain huge contacts for the rebuilding - much as he mused over the maps of Iraqi oilfields prior to our "humanitarian" invasion. Look for many further atrocities to the federal treasury as Cheney plots a course of greed in the midst of a tragedy.

The first step to his "Rebuilding for Fun and Profit" plan has already been put in place. Corporate Republicans have for years tried to dismantle the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931, which requires that federal contractors pay the prevailing wages in the area in which federally funded work is conducted. Keep in mind that most construction work is performed by union workers - thus, prevailing wages in this type of work is generally understood to be union scale. Large construction firms really dislike union scale - that's money that could be in their pockets.

Well, yesterday, with the stroke of a pen, Bush destroyed the Davis-Bacon Act for Cheney's Halliburton friends.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush issued an executive order Thursday allowing federal contractors rebuilding in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to pay below the prevailing wage.

In a notice to Congress, Bush said the hurricane had caused "a national emergency" that permits him to take such action under the 1931 Davis-Bacon Act in ravaged areas of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Handy, isn't it? Now the only requirement for workers hired by Halliburton and other GOP-connected firms will be to pay the federal minimum wage - five bucks an hour. And these are the jobs that will be offered to the evacuees, many of whom are already poor, who will continue to live under the poverty line even as they do the hard and dangerous work of rebuilding their communities through layers of toxins and disease.

Are we ready for a revolution yet?

Further on this subject is my second example. Yesterday, CNN reported that evacuees had to sign a waiver to receive their $2,000 per family grant that decrees that they won't request further assistance from the government. When that $2,000 runs out - as it will quickly, as most of them only have the clothes on their back - what happens? Why are they being forced to waive the provisions of FEMA's own Individual Assistance Program, which provides cash grants of up to $26,200 per individual or family, forcing them to settle for less than a tenth of that amount?

See the (deadly) minimum wage jobs noted above. If that fails, there's always the deadly duty of being shipped to Iraq. Military recruiters are taking advantage of the large pool of evacuees at the Superdome to sign up new cannon fodder, which may be the only option left for people jobless, homeless, and without funds. See how those waivers come in handy?

Are we ready for a revolution yet?

Next on the hit parade is possibly the most outrageous exploitation of tragedy to push through the Bush agenda since 9/11. Hoping that the country will be distracted by the disaster which the Republicans did so much to contribute to, they're now planning on ramming through Bush's Social Security Privatization plan - the largest looting scheme in history - through a sneaky procedural vote, despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of the public opposes this plan.

Congressional Republicans, persisting in hopes of enacting some form of private Social Security option despite opposition from the public and the Democrats, are considering the same kind of maneuver that enabled them to pass a controversial Medicare drug bill two years ago.

That's the clear signal from key GOP congressional leaders and chief White House strategist Karl Rove, one of the main architects of the Social Security proposal that President Bush made his top 2005 priority.

Mr. Rove, speaking to college students and lobbyists before Congress went on its current recess, said the House would act next month and the Senate soon after, according to the congressional newspaper The Hill .

And Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Calif., chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and one of his party's canniest operatives, said without giving details that his panel would introduce a retirement security bill in September.

...None had as torturous a path to enactment as the bill to create a prescription drug program. It only passed in 2003 after three hours of early morning arm twisting and the help of misleading cost estimates that soon proved to have been understated.

Because the Senate had passed a similar bill, Republicans could take the measure to a Senate-House conference. By excluding most Democrats from any role, they crafted the kind of bill they wanted in the first place.

That would appear to be their hope for private Social Security accounts – pass a bill in the House authorizing private accounts, accept any Social Security vehicle in the Senate that gets the issue to conference and write a final version letting the White House proclaim success.

So, there you have it - wage laws destroyed, Social Security being leeched by Wall Street, lots of profits from hurricane rebuilding efforts going directly into the pockets of the oligarchy - no wonder Bush asked Nancy Pelosi in wonderment, "What went wrong?" He and his wealthy corporate friends hit another "trifecta".


Blogger Stewing said...

Yes, the "real" looting is being enabled by Congress, which quickly allocated billions in funds for hurricane disaster relief. No doubt the funds will go directly into the coffers of Halliburton and its subsidiaries, including KBR, and none of it to the people who once lived in New Orleans. The people have been scattered to the wind.

Interesting that Joe "Big Country" Allbaugh, the former head of FEMA (and National Campaign Manager for the Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign before that), left the agency in 2003 to become a lobbyist for Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR), Halliburton's construction and engineering subsidiary

While Director, he hired his friend and former college roommate Michael Brown, an unqualified manager who basically handcuffed FEMA for a full week after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast. Let's not forget, either, that levee fortification in Louisiana was stopped during the Bush Administration for the first time in over 30 years.

So now Allbaugh gets to profit from this horrific preventable disaster, as does the rest of Bush's pals, not least of whom is Go Fuck Yourself Dick Cheney. No doubt there's a job waiting for Mike Brown at KBR, too, now that public opinion has forced Bush to recall him from the Gulf Coast area.

12:18 PM  
Blogger Mudpuppy said...

I sort of run in different blog circles than you usually do, "Simply Chimpy", so I wanted to post this story here in case your readers aren't aware of it.

Dogs are being shot in New Orleans, as caught on this video:

I don't necessarily suggest that you watch it, but I wanted to make you aware of it.

Dogs belonging to hurricane victims are being shot if they're seen as the reason for people refusing to evacuate their homes. Two pit bulls were shot today by soldiers who went to a home to "rescue" the occupant.

Animal rescue groups have been told they have three days to remove all remaining dogs and cats before pesticide is dropped on the city to kill mosquitos. This poison *will* kill dogs and cats as well.

I know you're no fan of Anderson Cooper, but he seems to be the ONLY journalist who's making a point of asking about the animals.

9:26 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Time will tell whether or not I should be embalmed in tin foil but, much as I hate having to ask, could this be yet another example of using animals for chemical testing? And at the same time a trial run for testing the ease and effectiveness of future 'cleansings' from above?

7:53 AM  
Blogger -simpchimp said...

I'm also repulsed and heartbroken over the dog shootings.

This group is doing some amazing work in NOLA, and they need help. I'd go down to Baton Rouge to work with them - it isn't that far - but from what I've heard there's just no place to stay, and I'm not a camper type. They need supplies, though, so I'm going to put together some stuff today. A big problem is that shelter space is running out.

8:20 AM  
Blogger Mudpuppy said...

Have you thought about fostering an animal through Padado's? They've got an urgent call up for foster and adoptive families on their website:

11:37 PM  
Blogger -simpchimp said...

I have thought about it - there's an organization here that's picking up some of the dogs and bringing them up. I'm a little worried about possible disease around Max, but I figure if I have Max's vet check the dog out it should be safe.

7:56 AM  
Blogger Mudpuppy said...

I'd bet there's a cute girl Lhasa Apso to put a spring in Max's step ;-)

1:48 AM  
Blogger TheDevilIsInTheDetails said...

Be prepared for the next hurricane relief concert or find another one that's similar. As the Boy Scouts say: "Be Prepared"!

5:08 AM  

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