Friday, August 18


A major new report from CorpWatch concludes that "Well connected corporations are growing rich off of no-bid contracts while the sub-contractors - the people who actually perform the work - often do so for peanuts, if they get paid at all."

The study reveals that the three states most affected by Katrina damage -- Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama -- have received just 10% to, most recently, 16.6% of reconstruction contracts. In addition, it appears that the big companies awarded the contracts hire local companies to do the actual work, giving them a tiny pittance of the taxpayer money, while the big dogs reap the big profits. Easy money!

“One year after disaster struck, the slow-motion rebuilding of the Gulf Coast region looks identical to what has happened to date in Afghanistan and Iraq. We see a pattern of profiteering, waste and failure - due to the same flawed contracting system and even many of the same players" says CorpWatch Director Pratap Chatterjee. "The process of getting Katrina-stricken areas back on their feet is needlessly behind schedule, in part, due to the shunning of local business people in favor of politically connected corporations from elsewhere in the U.S. that have used their clout to win lucrative no-bid contracts with little or no accountability and who have done little or no work while ripping off the taxpayer."

Of course we've known for some time that Bush-Cheney cronies got the big contracts. And we weren't at all surprised.

You know, I haven't visited the Gulf Coast since Katrina did her worst. It's my home. I grew up in northwest Florida, lived a number of years in Biloxi, have tons of connections with Mobile and New Orleans, etc. Many of my family members worked in the immediate aftermath of Katrina in humanitarian missions from Mobile to Gulfport.

Every time The Sage and I drive home to Panama City from Dallas for a visit, we take the Gulf Coast route -- Shreveport to New Orleans to Biloxi to Mobile to P.C. -- and take a sentimental journey, retelling our family stories to the kids and reliving them. But my visits this past year have been by air. Next week we do the long drive thing. It will be my first opportunity to see the damage for myself, but I find the prospect so depressing that I've been idly researching different routes. In the end, though, I think I have to face it. I just expect that I'll be arriving home an angry, frustrated individual.

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