Thursday, June 19, 2003

Why do they support this man?
The current administration calls itself Republican, yet it is betraying most of the traditional Republican constituencies. Everyday, the deficit plunges to new record depths on the watch of the party for whom "balanced budget amendment" was once an article of faith. Everyday, Ashcroft undermines rights and freedoms that the libertarian wing of the party once claimed were sacred. The military supports the party that sends men and women to die in wars that make us less safe while that same party slashes the education budget for their children and the VA benefits for their injuries. What about business? The Republicans have always been the party of business. Bush expects to raise $200 million for the election, most of it from prosperous business people. Surely, the party is good for them.

The party is clearly good for Halliburton and any other resource extraction company with ties to Cheney. And with wars and rumors of wars, it must be good for the fabled military-industrial complex. Right? Not always. Like most modern corporations, the industrial side of the military-industrial complex has become globalized and diversified. There is big money to be made supplying the U.S. armed forces, but that's just part of their bottom line. There is also money to be made selling burgers in Bavaria, autos in Africa, cola in Canada, and airplanes in Asia. Modern corporations need it all. This is where they are screwed.

Even before 9/11 the Bush administration had set out on a foreign policy course that was arrogant, unilateral, and offensive to some of our most important trading partners. Top members of the administration snorted contemptuously at "Old Europe" and threatened economic retaliation toward allies who refused to follow marching orders from the White House. Who needs France, Germany, and Mexico when we have the support of such military and industrial giants as Estonia, Albania, and Eritrea? It makes a good sound bite, and it's fun to thump our chests and shout "we're number one; these colors don't run," but when the pep rally is over we still have to go home and pay our bills.

This brings us to the biennial Paris Air Show, the most important weapons and aviation trade show on the planet. The deals consummated and announced here can total hundreds of billions of dollars. So naturally, the U.S. is cutting back its presence.
Lingering U.S. resentment over France's staunch opposition to the war in Iraq has led the Defense Department to scale back sharply on its participation and, according to Washington insiders, put pressure on U.S. companies not to attend. U.S. exhibitors will total 183, down from 350 at the last Paris show in 2001.

Airbus, who usually runs neck and neck with Boeing for supplying the world's airlines with planes, is outpacing Boeing five to one in orders this year (38 to 197 not counting today's Korea Air order). Each order lost is about a half billion dollars that stays out of the American economy.
U.S. defence contractor Northrop Grumman Corp said the political tension had put its plan to work with German submarine firm Howaldtswerke Deutsche Werft AG to make eight submarines for Taiwan on ice. "Our ability to collaborate and cooperate in Europe has been affected by the tense state of relationships that exists," said Philip Dur, head of Northrop Grumman's ship systems unit. .

The traditional targets, Coke and McDonalds, are also hurting.

Of course I'm singing the traditional theme song of the party out of power. It's called "Where's the Outrage (Why Can't They See What These People Are Doing)?" But just because it's the traditional whine, doesn't mean it's not a valid question. Why should business support a candidate who is bad for business? Will they act out of habit and pay to loose customers, or will they consider their best interests and try to stop the decline?

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