NOW with Bill Moyers (www.pbs.org/now)
Friday 18 April 2003
In his book Why Economies Grow economist Jeff Madrick talked about how inequality is changing the country. Politics determines economic outcomes - campaign contributions give the edge to those who can afford the entr e. It goes even deeper. What's emerged full-blown is the military-industrial complex famously predicted and feared by President Eisenhower fifty years ago. It's no longer possible to tell where the corporate world ends and government begins.
The poster boy for this new elite is Richard Cheney. As the head of Halliburton, he made a fortune from the influence and access gained through his earlier service in government. Then Halliburton corporation gets favored and confidential treatment soon after Mr. Cheney becomes George Bush's vice president. This week the big construction company Bechtel receives a contract that could pay three quarters of a billion dollars for work in post-war Iraq. Bechtel gives lots of money to politicians, mostly to Republicans. On its board is George Schultz, who ran Bechtel before he became President Reagan's Secretary of state. One of Bechtel's senior vice presidents is a former general who serves on the Defense Policy Board along with other hawks like Richard Perle and James Woolsey who wanted war with Iraq and got it. They advise the Pentagon and then turn around and make money out of their defense contacts.
These fellows are all honorable men, I am sure - but they call for war with all the ferocity of non-combatants and then turn around and feed on the corpse of war. Illegal? Not in our system. Unsavory? No matter how you slice it. But the main point is this: America's corporate and political elites now form a regime of their own, and they are privatizing democracy. All the benefits - the tax cuts, policies, and rewards - flow in one direction - up. And the people Jeff Madrick talked about - whose faith in the fairness of the American way of life is the bulwark of our country - are left outside, looking in.
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