3 Sep. 2007

Obscene Greed

Who's profiting most from the Iraq war? MSN Money puts Halliburton subsidiary KBR at the top of the list, followed by Veritas Capital Fund (a private equity fund). Here's the MSN Money quote:
Not all of the Iraq-war money is well spent.
You might think the whole report is tongue-in-cheek, and some of it is, but there is a very serious side to this article. MSN Money is, after all, a website for investors. So you find related stories like these:
* Why politicians are worth buying
* Are you investing in terrorism?
* Invest in the new mercenary army
* Invest in uranium? Not yet
* Does military service still pay?
Now surely those stories are just hoaxes, right? NOT! Click on the first one and you get this:
Companies that give money to political campaigns have better-performing stocks, according to a new study, than companies that don't contribute. It's no small gap, either. Corporations that give the most have beaten the market by 2.5 percentage points a year over the past 25 years.
What about investing in one of the 20,000 private military contractors ("sadly, the term mercenary is passé")?
If this gives you a chill, look at the bright side. It gives you the opportunity to be an entirely new type of war profiteer. No longer must you make money merely in the bloodless tailwind of mega-cap equipment vendors like Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics. You've now got a chance to make a few bucks off the men and women who actually shoot to kill. It's a capitalist version of "24," without the commercial breaks.
This article on Iraq War profiteering is currently #5 in the MSN Money Reader's Choice list. Here's an interesting snippet from the #1 article:
Lastly, in a sad commentary about where we are as a country, U.S. Comptroller General David Walker was quoted Tuesday (also in the Financial Times), as follows: "Drawing parallels with the end of the Roman empire, Mr. Walker warned there were 'striking similarities' between America's current situation and the factors that brought down Rome, including 'declining moral values and political civility at home, an overconfident and overextended military in foreign lands, and fiscal irresponsibility by the central government.' "

Unfortunately, it seems to me that he is dead right.
UPDATE: A great comment from DeanL at Lefty's blog:
The Government has become a bank. And it's become a saver of our money for us because, apparently, they don't trust us to manage our money ourselves - we'll spend it on stupid stuff (like our mortgages?) and cause inflation to go up. But are these users of our money really spending it on stuff that is good for us and our environment? I guess, economically, we're doing all right - sure we're losing all our spare time and work conditions but we're ok. The envorionment? Well, who cares?

Now, I'd be willing to listen to a well-reasoned argument about why this is a good thing; but, on the surface, it just appears to me as if it's not much better than a communist regime taking and redistributing on our behalf.