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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Patriot or Profiteer

You can be a Patriot or a Profiteer...But you can’t be Both

By Robert Greenwald
Disinformation
April 28, 2012

This week, the three military contractors that do the most
business with the Pentagon announced their quarterly profits
for 2012.

Their profits continue to grow while they push Washington,
D.C. to protect their budgets at the expense of the rest of us.

Here’s the breakdown so far for this year:

Lockheed Martin: $668 million

Northrop Grumman: $506 million

Boeing: $923 million

This week’s announcement raises a fundamental question: Should
people and companies be allowed to make huge profits from war?

Even raising this question in today’s environment may seem trite,
but we used to have different answers than those that prevail in
modern-day Washington, D.C.

“I don’t want to see a single war millionaire created in the
United States as a result of this world disaster.” President
Franklin D. Roosevelt, May 22, 1940.

“Worse than traitors in arms are the men who pretend loyalty to
the flag, feast and fatten on the misfortunes of the Nation while
patriotic blood is crimsoning the plains of the South and their
countrymen mouldering the dust.” –President Abraham Lincoln.

This last quote is particularly relevant to this week’s profit
announcements.

Lincoln referred to war profiteers making money by cheating
the Union Army. Outrage at war profiteering during this period
led to the passage of “Lincoln’s Law,” officially known as the
False Claims Act.

The False Claims Act is the very same law that two of the
companies listed above, Lockheed Martin and Boeing, violated
through price-fixing and double-billing the taxpayer, leading
to their having to pay roughly $20 million in the first quarter
of 2012 to settle suits brought by the U.S. government.

During Roosevelt’s time, the idea of a single contractor company
making almost a billion dollars worth of profit in three months
would have received short shrift.

As Roosevelt’s quote above shows, the idea of people profiting
from war’s “disaster” disgusted him, and during his presidency
the Truman Committee relentlessly investigated and exposed
war profiteers.

The closest analogy in our time would be the Committee on
Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, which found
that up to $60 billion (as of September 2011) was lost to
waste and fraud in military contracting in those conflicts.

And yet, despite this historical lack of patience for war
profiteering, and despite the current record showing gross
misconduct and waste, the U.S. government keeps shoveling
taxpayer money at these huge corporations.

Could it be that the $5 million in campaign donations and
$32 million in lobbying dollars so far this election cycle from
the military contractors keep Congress intentionally ignorant
of the problem?

President George Washington knew a few things about war
profiteers, and he didn’t mince words:

“There is such a thirst for gain [among military suppliers]…that it
is enough to make one curse their own Species, for possessing so
little virtue and patriotism.”

As long as we continue to allow the profit motive to play a role in
America’s war, virtue and patriotism–to say nothing of peace–will
continue to be in short supply.

http://www.disinfo.com/2012/04/you-can-be-a-patriot-or-a-
profiteer-but-you-cant-be-both/

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