Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Government is the problem

"For more than a quarter century now our government has been adopting rules that tilt the playing field in favor of the rich, the powerful, and the politically connected. These rules accomplish this by taking from the uninformed, handcuffing law enforcement, squelching whistle-blowers, and making it even harder for those who were wronged to get redress. The new rules have taken special aim at those supposed economic criminals, the regulators." - David Cay Johnston, Free Lunch

It is standard dogma of Reagan acolytes that "government is the problem." That begs the question: what's the problem?

If you are former Halliburton subsidiary KBR, your problem would be that your army overseer will not approve $1 billion dollars in charges because "[t]hey had a gigantic amount of costs they couldn’t justify" and "the money that was going to KBR was money being taken away from the troops, and I wasn’t going to do that."

The solution would be for the army to remove that overseer, then out-source review of KBR charges to another contractor at an additional cost to the tax-payer, then approve the charges because "We could not let operational support suffer because of some other things.” Or in other words: we were afraid that if we asked KBR to account for their costs they wouldn't do their job.

Or in other words: KBR profits from gouging the tax-payer because they aren't held accountable for their actions. And the taxpayer had to foot the bill of finding a private auditor who would Enron KBR's books to justify the charges (which, not incidentally, are also paid by the taxpayer.)

For KBR, a government of civic minded individuals dedicated to serving the public good rather than private interest is the problem.

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