Monday, July 30, 2012

US taxpayer money wasted in Afghanistan: but that's not all.

In the news today is the report from the Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction John Sopko."Planning, co-ordination and execution" was weak, the report states.
"The report also says the US Army has accepted contract construction that was so poor it prevented multi-million dollar police bases from being used",  according to the BBC.  Some construction projects are so behind schedule that the possibility of them becoming functional is unlikely, especially before 2014, if ever.  "Other deficiencies included leaking fuel lines, unconnected drain pipes, poorly built guard towers, and improperly installed heating and ventilation systems." the report states. 

As US cities are going broke which is being used as an excuse to savage public services, jobs and other social spending including the selling off of state property to the private sector, trillions of dollars are either wasted or siphoned of by the super rich.  Some of this cash is missing through outright theft as was witnessed during the early days of the Iraq war when almost $7 billion disappeared. The coupon clippers that monopolize the political process through their control of the two parties in Congress shipped hundreds of billions of dollars to Iraq in cargo planes. "Pentagon officials determined that one giant C-130 Hercules cargo plane could carry $2.4 billion in shrink-wrapped bricks of $100 bills. They sent an initial full planeload of cash, followed by 20 other flights to Iraq by May 2004 in a $12-billion haul that U.S. officials believe to be the biggest international cash airlift of all time." wrote the LA Times back then.  The contractors and private mercenaries gorged themselves over there as did engineering firms like Bechtel and Halliburton that get the contracts to rebuild societies that US capitalism's military wing bombs in to antiquity in its rapacious quest for profits.

These figures are just the tip of the iceberg.  Another report released this month (you can get a pdf of the report here) found that the super-rich have stashed away as much as $32 trillion in offshore accounts. The report by James Henry of the Tax Justice Network states: A significant fraction of global private financial wealth by our estimates, at least $21 to $32 trillion as of 2010 has been invested virtually tax free through the world's still expanding black hole of more than 80 offshore secrecy jurisdictions. We believe this range to be conservative.....remember: this is just financial wealth. A big share of the real estate, yachts, racehorses, gold bricks and many other things that count as non-financial wealth are also owned via offshore structures where it is impossible to identify the owners. These are outside the scope of this report."

This figure is more than the GDP of the US and Japan combined. Let's not forget this when the politicians at the federal, state and local level impose the 1%'s austerity program on us parroting the arguments made by the big business media that there is an economic crisis or that these are "difficult times".

The graph to the left is from the TJN report and is accompanied by the following:

"From a slight distance, all these players share the same basic needs: (1) anonymity for them, their families, and their business and political dealings; (2) the ability to minimize the net present value of future taxes, net of tax avoidance costs; (3) investment management, for those who still believe in it; (4) ability to easily access and manage their wealth from anywhere on the planet; (5) secure places to hang out, hide out and enjoy life; and (6) iron-clad financial security for their huge stocks of anonymously owned, largely untaxed private assets, against the continuing threats posed not only by tax men and prosecutors, but also by kidnappers, extortionists, spies, hit men, con men, hackers, paparazzi, political opponents, disgruntled family members, ex-wives, ex-­lovers, and each other."

Missing from the comments above is the united working class organized through unions and political structures on a national and international basis.  This is the force that these few hundred thousand global thieves fear the most and who through their control of the media, political parties and all the organs of the state like the police and military attempt to divide through race, religion, gender and nationality. 

We know that this goes on even if we aren't completely conscious of the details.  But we have to keep this firmly in mind when we are told by the media in all its forms, union officials or the political representatives of capital that society cannot provide a decent life for all.  We begin the struggle where we are, whether political or economic but we keep in mind always that we can only win by building a general national and indeed global movement against the capitalist offensive. We must reject the idea that there is no money in society along with the propaganda that to demand what we need is "unrealistic". Our reality is different from theirs.  Our reality is access to health care, education, housing, productive labor and a secure life in harmony with our neighbors here and abroad and with the natural world. Capitalism will not provide this, it's future is war, destruction and poverty. 
Building a united working class movement and a world federation of democratic socialist states is what can ensure a future for us and our children. The forces of production must be liberated from the clique that presently own them.

Society needs new managers. 

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