One Rant at a Time

Whatever heaves into view........better keep its head down.

Monday, October 03, 2005

How to Win Friends, Influence People and Screw New Orleans

This made me really angry. President Bush has signed an executive order that suspends the Davis-Bacon Act for the duration of the efforts to rebuild New Orleans and the surrounding area. The Davis-Bacon Act protects the minimum wage for workers on federal contracts by requiring employers to pay the prevailing or average pay in the region.

Let's think about that for a moment. By suspending this Act, Bush is telling companies who are working on federal contracts that they don't have to pay their workers proper wages. Isn't the Federal government supposed to set an example?

Never mind the fact that workers everywhere deserve a living wage, but the people who are going to be doing the majority of the rebuilding of coastal Louisiana are local people - the ones who've lost homes, whose jobs have floated away, who are faced with dangerously unsanitary conditions, unsafe structures and who have to rebuild their own lives as well as their hometowns. And now they're going to be paid even less than they should while doing it.

Never mind that it's a tough, unpleasant and probably emotionally scarring job to do. These are the same people who probably couldn't afford federal flood insurance - who need to save money in order to set up home again, replace lost or ruined possessions. And so their government is doing its bit to help them by chopping their wages.

In short, first Louisianans got screwed by Mother Nature and now they're getting screwed by their own president. Nice going, Dubya.

But wait! It gets better! Who do you think got the lion's share of the big federal projects in and around New Orleans? Of course! Halliburton, that's who (well, Kellogg, Brown & Root is a subsidiary of Halliburton). So not only is Dick Cheney's firm going to make a bazillion dollars out of the whole sad affair, but the government has just said it's OK for Halliburton to pay its workers next to nothing as well.

It's at times like this that the monumentally audacious cronyism and sheer greed of the Republican leadership (and who's to say the Democrats would be that much better?) just takes the breath away. Nothing is scared. Invade a sovereign nation? No problem. Ride roughshod over the collective will of the rest of the world? You got it. Screw the very people who elected us? Hell, yes!

If anyone ever read the Asterix cartoons as a kid, there's a panel in "Asterix in Switzerland" where the Roman governor of Geneva is dividing up the proceeds of the latest tax collection. "This is for you [he gives a handful of coins to his assistant]; this is for me [pours the entire collection into his private chest]; and this is for Rome [puts three coins into a piggy-bank]."

When his assistant asks him if he doesn't think he's overdoing things a little, he replies: "I was elected governor for one year. I have a year to enrich myself! In twelve months I'll be far away from here; far away and rich!"

Substitute eight years for the twelve months and you see how little things have changed over the two millenia that have elapsed.

I'm reassured to see that Bush and Cheney have such a strong regard for history.


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