|The cost of peace|
"This boundless greed after riches, this passionate chase after exchange value, is common to the capitalist and the miser; but while the miser is merely a capitalist gone mad, the capitalist is a rational miser. The never ending augmentation of exchange value, which the miser strives after, by seeking to save his money from circulation, is attained by the more acute capitalist, by constantly throwing it afresh in to circulation." Karl Marx
By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired
Somebody made the (very obvious) point to me the other day that the privatization of prisons can only increase the US incarceration rate as being profit driven, the industry has to expand, has to find new clients, "The system cannot help stop crime if it profits from it" she said to me.
Prisons are not rehabilitation or “correctional” centers or meant to deter crime and keep the public safe, even those that are state run are not meant to do that, although experiences teach me that if I were to be in one I think I would rather it be a state enterprise.
Prisons are in the incarceration business which is quite profitable by all accounts and capitalism, having no use for millions of youth and workers in society, provides the industry with a plentiful supply of new clients. The poor, the disposed, the youth with their potential for political and social unrest can be housed in these institutions keeping them out of the public eye and under scrutiny. This is what prisons are, for profit institutions for the warehousing of human beings.
It is not simply this industry that is incapable of achieving the goals accredited to it by the spin doctors, in this case, rehabilitation of lost souls and increased public safety. The defense industry is the same. War is a by-product of the capitalist mode of production, the rapacious thirst for profits and the struggle for domination of the world market and the planet’s dwindling natural resources. This drives them in to war and conflict regardless of their individual will. The goal of investment of capital is to get more money returned to you than you lay out, the capitalist is not a miser, Marks asserts, he is not a capitalist gone mad.
Prisons will never eliminate crime, they’re not supposed to, and a “defense” industry will never bring peace because war is profitable.
Lockheed Martin is grateful for the world market and the regional conflicts that never end. It sells about two dozen F16’s a year and is thankful that the people of Iraq, Oman, Israel and Saudi Arabia like their products. “International is the business that keeps the F-16 production lines open.” says Patrick Dewar, a Lockheed executive whose department was “created this year to boost foreign sales” says Bloomberg.
United Technologies which manufactures the Blackhawk attack helicopter gets 15% of its sales from overseas and its VP of sales and marketing, Robert Kokorda hopes that figure can double over the next year or so. Peace is not a good thing for business.
Raytheon the world’s largest missile maker that provides these peacemakers for the US drones that occasionally blow up a wedding party or two in Pakistan or Yemen, is very optimistic that war and slaughter will continue apace. The percentage of its revenue from foreign markets has risen from 16% to 26% in a decade. All the producers of weapons of mass destruction are “looking for opportunities for growth at a time when the US defense budget is declining” says a representative of the trade association representing the industry, a sort of WMD producers’ union, “You go where the money is” he adds. Imagine being in charge of sales and marketing at a weapons of mass destruction factory. What do these people tell their kids I wonder? They’re making the world safe?
Despite these gains, the WMD producers are worried. China, India and other countries are slowing defense spending which is pretty inconsiderate of them when you come to think of it as defense spending globally fell by .5% last year to $1.7 trillion. Not only that, the Chinese in particular are entering the weapons market, threatening US domination of it. But the US is still the leading purveyor of death machines and highly sophisticated ones at that. We spend massive amounts of taxpayer money on research and ensuring Lockheed and Raytheon and others’ profits keep rolling in. Obama also recently loosened restrictions of arms exports which has pleased the industry; the drone king came though.
Lockheed’s latest gem, the F-35 joint strike fighter will keep the few hundred workers needed to produce it employed for a while the company says. The F-35 will be very popular with such egalitarian democratic regimes like the House of Saud. In fact it is anticipated with all the social unrest, tottering dictators and need to keep US flunkies like Afghanistan’s Karzai in the drivers seat, half of the F-35’s sold over the next five years will be abroad says Dewar---“The demand is there”.
“The demand is there!” Well, there you have it; thank “f*#k for demand.