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Halliburton Alert: Once Again, The Vulture Need Not Bid

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The vulture need not bid, nor — apparently — pay minimum wage:

Already (in the wake of Katrina), no-bid contracts have been awarded to major Republican contributors including Kellogg, Brown & Root, the subsidiary of Vice President Dick Cheney’s old company Halliburton. President Bush has unilaterally lifted a protection law that makes it possible for contractors to pay sub-minimum wage rates to reconstruction workers.

Yes, I’ve heard the argument: Dick Cheney does not receive compensation from Halliburton, etc. First of all, given the complex deferment arrangements Dick has with his old pals, nobody can say this with any certainty: if Halliburton does well, at this time, does that really have no effect upon Dick’s income in the future? Let’s take the VP’s word that it does not (although why we would want to take his word for anything, given the Enron disgrace, is beyond me) — then this is still rank cronyism of the most repulsive variety. Bush, remember, didn’t make money from Michael Brown’s appointment to the head of FEMA, but it was astonishingly sleazy nevertheless, and the consequences were very very ugly. If Dick makes nothing — not a penny — from Halliburton’s predations in Iraq and Louisiana, then that hardly makes the practice anything but despicable: folks, he is procuring no-bid contracts for his friends.

And yes, I’ve heard the second argument: Halliburton is the only company with the resources to handle this sort of vast project. Now, by all accounts, this is a crock (and it assumes, to begin with, that Halliburton is both competent and honest — difficult premises to endorse in the wake of their egregious behavior in Iraq), but let’s take the argument seriously for a moment. Perhaps they are sui generis in their ability do work on this scale. Here’s how you find out: you allow bids from other companies, then assess those companies — in an objective, bipartisan fashion — to determine whether they are up to the task. Pretty easy. And kind of, well, conservative — given their free-market posturing, you’d think Republicans would be in favor of that most basic mechanism: competition.

This Halliburnt-Earth Campaign is nothing short of Stalinist central planning in free-market drag: it assumes that the government, and its favorite corporation, are best able to make decisions regarding the efficient allocation of resources. Any principled economist (and there are at least three, I’m told) should be screaming.

———————————-

(If this made your blood boil, please visit Dysblog, where it only gets worse.)
Ed/Pub:NB

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  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com Michael J. West

    It might have helped to mention that Halliburton has received reconstruction contracts for Hurricane Katrina–or people might reasonably think you’re referring to Iraq.

    Besides, after all the fuss about the Iraq contracts, the fact that the administration has done it again for Katrina is all the more appalling.

  • http://www.dysblog.blogspot.com Douglas Anthony Cooper

    Thanks Michael — clarification added.

  • http://cranialcavity.net/wordpress/index.php marc

    OK I’ll play your game.

    Three names have come forward — Shaw, Halliburton, and Bechtel as those that could handle the Gulf Coast reconstruction.

    And all three are being raked over the coals for their political ties.

    Halliburton is having its ties to Cheney brought up yet again (See above), along with its less-than-stellar performance in Iraq. Shaw has some incredibly tight — one might say incestuous — connections with the Louisiana Democratic Party. In fact, their CEO also serves as the party’s state chairman. And Bechtel is the prime contractor for Boston’s disastrous, problem-riddled, out-of-control Big Dig (Can you say John Kerry?)

    According to Hoover’s Online, there are only 16 construction companies that have over $10 billion in sales a year. (I chose that number arbitrarily, but it seems to be a reasonable choice.) As a non-subscriber, I can only view the top ten. Let’s look at them alphabetically (the way Hoover’s presents them):

    Bechtel: Already eliminated.

    Centex: They specialize in private homes. Limited commercial experience, and (as far as I can tell) nothing even close to this scale.

    Deere & Company: The John Deere people. They provide the equipment, not the know-how.

    D. R. Horton: Again, homebuilders. Also, they have no locations in Mississippi or New Orleans.

    Duke Energy: They build power plants. Certainly useful, but not quite what we need.

    Emerson Electric Company: Electrical equipment manufacturers.

    FirstEnergy: Another utility.

    Georgia-Pacific: Paper and wood products.

    Halliburton: We’ve disqualified them, too.

    International Paper Company: Another paper and wood products company.

    So take your pick guy just who would be acceptable even if there was a bidding process?

    Schlumberger you say? Theri French owned, what are the odds?

    Fluor Corp is a possibility but are already under FEMA contract.

    So who will it be smart guy?

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Well, Marc. Apparently there are those who’d rather hire a smaller company which will do the job less well for more money just because they’re not Halliburton or Bechtel.

    Oh, and Cooper – let’s see your evidence that Cheney played any role at all in getting Halliburton this contract.

    Dave

  • RogerMDillion

    “Apparently there are those who’d rather hire a smaller company which will do the job less well for more money”

    Of course, because a smaller company is guaranteed to do it less well for more money. Turn in your libertarian card.

    A tad ironic that you make claims with no evidence and then demand evidence from someone else.

  • http://www.dysblog.blogspot.com Douglas Anthony Cooper

    Marc, it’s not *my* call. It’s the call of whomever is set up to weigh these bids, and decide. What’s particularly appalling is that this administration, far from worrying about justice, isn’t particularly concerned about the *appearance* of justice. Simply doesn’t matter to them. What the hell: toss it to Cheney’s boys — the cherry bowl’s ours for the picking, and if they complain? Well, what can they do….

    Whereas we know very well what *they* can do. Don’t we.

    “A senior US Army official who criticized the way Halliburton Co., Vice President Dick Cheney’s former firm, was awarded noncompetitive contracts was demoted for poor performance, although previous assessments gave her a high job rating.

    “Bunnatine Greenhouse, who worked in military procurement for 20 years and who in the Senior Executive Service was the chief overseer of contracts at the Army Corps of Engineers, which managed construction in Iraq, has been assigned to a lower position in the corps’ civil works division, The New York Times reported Monday.”

    (http://www.isn.ethz.ch/news/sw/details.cfm?id=12648)

    The fact, Marc, is that neither of us is “smart” enough to make this judgment call. *Nobody* is smart enough to prejudge this. Let’s get the bids in, and have a neutral body examine them and choose.

    And Dave, there are not a lot of companies who could do the job less well, it would appear; nor corrupt enough to charge more money — judging from what we’re learning about Iraq.

    If the job ends up going to Halliburton, after an open and transparent bidding process, then fine. You see, the funny thing about capitalism, is that *the bidding process itself* keeps costs down. (And, in Halliburton’s case, might even keep them honest.)

  • http://www.dysblog.blogspot.com Douglas Anthony Cooper

    (make that “whoever”)

  • http://www.dysblog.blogspot.com Douglas Anthony Cooper

    Oh, and Dave: my evidence that Cheney had some part in this? My evidence is that there was *no bid.*

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Roger, ever heard of such things as economy of scale, start-up expenses and even such a general concept as efficiency? The companies with the properly trained people and resources are usually best to do a given job. You know what will happen if we hire a smaller company? They’ll charge us 20% more and subcontract all the work out to Halliburton.

    >>If the job ends up going to Halliburton, after an open and transparent bidding process, then fine. You see, the funny thing about capitalism, is that *the bidding process itself* keeps costs down. (And, in Halliburton’s case, might even keep them honest.)< <

    You know, they can just write the bid specifications such that no one but Halliburton can meet them. All they're doing with the no-bid contract is cutting out that step.

    >>Oh, and Dave: my evidence that Cheney had some part in this? My evidence is that there was *no bid.*<<

    Ah, so that would be no evidence at all.

    Dave

  • RogerMDillion

    I see. I had no idea that Haliburton came into being as a large, experienced company rather than growing through “internal growth and acquisition”, which is what they claim on their website.

    “They’ll charge us 20% more and subcontract all the work out to Halliburton.”

    If there’s no-bid, then how do you know they will charge 20% more? And if they do, then they don’t get award the contract. Dave, ever heard of such things as competition in the marketplace?

  • zyzzy zyzwyz

    Do you have any clue what you are talking about? First, Davis-Bacon wages were waived which means that the companies do not have to pay the UNION wages and can pay standard commercial wages instead. Minimum wages remain in effect under a different law.

    Second, with everyone screaming about getting the work started how do you expect the federal government to get bids. First you must write a statement of work, then provide time for bidders to give a price. All this takes weeks sometimes months.

    Third, Halliburton has been given no no-bid contracts here. The base contract for disaster recovery was completed earlier for just such a case as this. This work is just a delivery order on that competetive contract.

    Fourth, who do you think Halliburton hires? They hire local or semi-local contractors to do the work and provide management services. Something that there aren’t enough government personnel to do.

  • http://www.dysblog.blogspot.com Douglas Anthony Cooper

    First, let’s get some things straight. Davis-Bacon says nothing about *union* wages. It’s true that the Independant, quoted above, used the wrong term: Davis-Bacon does not guarantee “minimum” wages either. The appropriate term is “prevailing” wages. In other words, you have to pay a worker what that worker would usually earn in the district. Which may or may not be union rates. In fact:

    “In New Orleans, where a quarter of the city was poor, the prevailing wage for construction labor is about $9 per hour, according to the Department of Labor. In effect, President Bush is saying that people should be paid less than $9 an hour to rebuild their communities.” (George Miller D-Calif)

    You may or may not have an argument regarding the need to get things done too quickly to allow for a proper bidding process. At least, you may in the case of Louisiana. You sure as hell don’t when it comes to the no-bid contracts offered in Iraq. And I suspect you don’t here, either: yes, the process might have to be sped up considerably, but what do you lose? That you might end up contracting someone *else* as inefficient and dishonest as Halliburton?

    That Haliburton has been given “no no-bid contracts” goes contrary to everything reported in the legitimate press. Care to offer sources?

  • http://www.dysblog.blogspot.com Douglas Anthony Cooper

    (er, “Independent”)

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    >>I see. I had no idea that Haliburton came into being as a large, experienced company rather than growing through “internal growth and acquisition”, which is what they claim on their website.< <

    That was then, this is now.

    >>If there’s no-bid, then how do you know they will charge 20% more? And if they do, then they don’t get award the contract. Dave, ever heard of such things as competition in the marketplace?< <

    Yes. Please point out the viable competitors who are able to qualify for this contract.

    >>That you might end up contracting someone *else* as inefficient and dishonest as Halliburton?<<

    BTW, the charges against Halliburton over poor accounting and overcharges were dropped. It might behove you to remember that, rather than spreading half truths for political reasons.

    Dave

  • http://www.dysblog.blogspot.com Douglas Anthony Cooper

    Which “charges” would those be, Dave? The audit on the part of the DDAA? And I quote:

    “The Department of Defense Audit Agency, in a detailed review, criticized the company for failing to provide ‘current, accurate, and complete data’ on the financials of its Iraq work, noting the error was so bad ‘it decreases the government confidence in and reliance on the contractor estimating system.’

    “Halliburton, at the time, disputed many of the findings. But it admitted, in a submission to the Defense Contract Audit Agency in December 2003, that ‘we did not use current, accurate or complete information that was available for pricing of subcontracts.”

    http://business.bostonherald.com/businessNews/view.bg?articleid=103196

    Now let’s see. They were audited, found desperately wanting, and admitted to poor accounting. What part of that truth strikes you as merely half?

  • zyzzy zyzwyz

    washingtonpost.com
    Halliburton Subsidiary Taps Contract For Repairs

    By Lolita C. Baldor
    Associated Press
    Monday, September 5, 2005; A20

    An Arlington-based Halliburton Co. subsidiary that has been criticized for its reconstruction work in Iraq has begun tapping a $500 million Navy contract to do emergency repairs at Gulf Coast naval and Marine facilities damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

    The subsidiary, Kellogg, Brown & Root Services Inc., won the COMPETITIVE BID contract last July to provide debris removal and other emergency work associated with natural disasters.

    Jan Davis, a spokeswoman for the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, said yesterday that KBR would receive $12 million for work at the Naval Air Station at Pascagoula, Miss., the Naval Station at Gulfport, Miss., and Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. KBR will receive $4.6 million for work at two smaller Navy facilities in New Orleans and others in the South.

    The company has provided similar work after major disasters in the United States and abroad for more than 15 years, including in Florida after Hurricane Andrew.

    or maybe Halliburton Watch:

    Halliburton gets Katrina contract, hires former FEMA director
    1 Sept. 2005
    WASHINGTON, Sept. 1 (HalliburtonWatch.org) — The US Navy asked Halliburton to repair naval facilities damaged by Hurricane Katrina, the Houston Chronicle reported today. The work was assigned to Halliburton’s KBR subsidiary under the Navy’s $500 million CONCAP contract awarded to KBR in 2001 and renewed in 2004. The repairs will take place in Louisiana and Mississippi.

    as for the prevailing wages see the last paragaph where this is a special code next to the labor category (SU) if the wage is NOT the union wage:

    General Decision Number: LA030014 08/12/2005 LA14

    Superseded General Decision Number: LA020014

    State: Louisiana

    Construction Type: Building

    Counties: Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St Bernard, St
    Charles, St James, St John the Baptist and St Tammany Counties
    in Louisiana.

    BUILDING CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS (Does not include Treatment
    Plants or single family homes & apartments up to and including
    4 stories)

    Modification Number Publication Date
    0 06/13/2003
    1 12/29/2003
    2 01/30/2004
    3 03/12/2004
    4 04/02/2004
    5 05/21/2004
    6 07/09/2004
    7 10/15/2004
    8 11/19/2004
    9 02/04/2005
    10 04/08/2005
    11 05/06/2005
    12 08/12/2005

    ELEC0130-006 09/01/2004

    JEFFERSON, ORLEANS, PLAQUEMINES, ST. BERNARD, ST. CHARLES, ST.
    JAMES, AND ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISHES:

    Rates Fringes

    Electrician (includes low
    voltage wiring and
    installation of fire alarms,
    security systems, sound and
    communication systems,
    telephones, computers, and
    temperature controls)……….$ 22.09 6.00
    —————————————————————-
    ELEC1077-003 03/01/2005

    ST. TAMMANY PARISH:

    Rates Fringes

    Electrician (includes low
    voltage wiring and
    installation of fire alarms,
    security systems, sound and
    communication systems,
    telephones, computers, and
    temperature controls)……….$ 17.99 5.15
    —————————————————————-
    * IRON0058-011 06/01/2005

    JEFFERSON, ORLEANS, PLAQUEMINES, ST. BERNARD, ST. CHARLES, ST.
    JAMES (Southeastern Portion), ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST, AND ST.
    TAMMANY PARISHES:

    Rates Fringes

    Ironworker, reinforcing and
    structural…………………$ 18.20 5.93
    —————————————————————-
    * IRON0623-007 06/01/2005

    ST. JAMES PARISH (Northwestern Portion):

    Rates Fringes

    Ironworker, reinforcing and
    structural…………………$ 18.35 5.49
    —————————————————————-
    PAIN1244-001 04/01/2005

    Rates Fringes

    Glazier……………………$ 16.62 4.67
    Painter (includes brush;
    roller; spray; and drywall
    finishing)…………………$ 14.88 4.32
    —————————————————————-
    * PLUM0060-007 06/01/2005

    JEFFERSON, ORLEANS, PLAQUEMINES, ST. BERNARD, ST. CHARLES, ST.
    JAMES (Southeastern Portion), ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST, AND ST.
    TAMMANY PARISHES:

    Rates Fringes

    Pipefitter (excludes HVAC)…..$ 22.25 6.03
    —————————————————————-
    PLUM0198-007 07/01/2005

    ST. JAMES PARISH (Northwestern Portion):

    Rates Fringes

    Pipefitter (excludes HVAC)…..$ 18.59 6.98
    Plumber (includes HVAC pipe
    and installation of system)….$ 18.59 6.98
    —————————————————————-
    SFLA0669-003 01/01/2005

    Rates Fringes

    Sprinkler Fitter……………$ 22.87 9.00
    —————————————————————-
    SULA2004-003 03/25/2004

    Rates Fringes

    Carpenter
    Drywall & Metal Stud
    Installation…………….$ 14.00 0.70
    Formbuilding/Formsetting….$ 12.70 0.56
    All Other Work…………..$ 13.68 0.00
    Cement Mason/Concrete Finisher.$ 12.28 0.00
    Laborers:
    Common………………….$ 9.55 1.05
    Mason Tender…………….$ 9.32 0.00
    Power Equipment Operator
    Backhoe/Excavator………..$ 14.00 0.42
    Bulldozer……………….$ 15.17 0.00
    Crane…………………..$ 14.00 1.80
    Roofer (including Built Up,
    Composition and Single Ply)
    (includes metal roof)……….$ 12.28 0.00
    Sheet Metal Worker (excluding
    HVAC duct)…………………$ 13.26 1.91
    —————————————————————-

    WELDERS – Receive rate prescribed for craft performing
    operation to which welding is incidental.
    ================================================================

    Unlisted classifications needed for work not included within
    the scope of the classifications listed may be added after
    award only as provided in the labor standards contract clauses
    (29CFR 5.5 (a) (1) (ii)).

    —————————————————————-

    In the listing above, the “SU” designation means that rates
    listed under the identifier do not reflect collectively
    bargained wage and fringe benefit rates. Other designations
    indicate unions whose rates have been determined to be
    prevailing.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    >>Now let’s see. They were audited, found desperately wanting, and admitted to poor accounting. What part of that truth strikes you as merely half?<<

    You left out the part where the audit determined that there was no evidence sufficient to prove any overcharges and they dropped their intent to fine Halliburton and request restitution.

    Dave

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Zyzzy – what is the second number after the dollar value for each of the occupations listed?

    It looks to me like the wages they’re being allowed to pay are pretty fair wages for non union workers in the region. Certainly comparable with wages paid here in Texas. Over $9 for unskilled labor isn’t so bad.

    Dave

  • zyzzy zyzwyz

    The second number is the fringe benefits like health care and such that the employer collects but doesn’t pay to the employee.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Ah, that makes sense then. Thanks.

    I don’t see a great festival of exploitation in those figures. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

    Dave

  • zyzzy zyzwyz

    Well, these rates are the “normal” wages required of government contractors. Reconstruction contractors can now pay from the minimum wage $5.15 and upward depending on the labor category since the DB wages have been waived.

  • http://www.dysblog.blogspot.com Douglas Anthony Cooper

    >You left out the part where the audit determined >that there was no evidence sufficient to prove any >overcharges and they dropped their intent to fine >Halliburton and request restitution.

    In short, that Halliburton got away with it? Let’s see: they were accused of shoddy accounting; they *admitted* as much; but they somehow didn’t get properly hauled up on the carpet. Doesn’t that strike you as, well, fascinating? And the notion that the charges have been completely dropped, and Halliburton exonerated, is just, um, half-true:

    “Another USACE whistleblower, Bunnatine H. Greenhouse, also spoke before the committee. Greenhouse’s allegations of contracting abuse are being investigated by the Justice Department and the Pentagon’s inspector general. Nevertheless, USACE recently demoted her after she disclosed her complaints to Congress. “I was removed because I steadfastly resisted and attempted to alter what can be described as casual and clubby contracting practices by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers commanders, and because I presented testimony before this body on June 27, 2005,” she said. ”

    That’s from Sept. 16, 2005, on HalliburtonWatch. These inquiries have *not* been shelved.

  • Nancy

    Whatever the actual wages, the net effect is an image of vast & egregious impropriety, cronyism, fiscal corruption, & violation of a host of US laws regarding awarding of contracts, which the Bush administration has grown increasingly callous about breaking. BushCo seems to be intent on providing the most arrogant & blatant violations possible in any situation, & daring anyone to challenge them and/or bring them to justice, knowing it’s impossible with a packed congress more than ready to protect this administration regardless of the scandal & lawbreaking. One more example of Smirk doing his best to bring this country down into the dirt with himself. Ceasar’s wife should be above suspicion – not beneath contempt.

  • Maurice

    What a bunch of superstitious witch burners! Haliburton is many things. The comments here make it sound as if it is a single entity. It would be analogous for me to say McDonalds has dirty bathrooms because I used a dirty bathroom in Woodland Hills once. McDonalds has many bathrooms – some are very clean some are dirty. Haliburton is made up of many entities – some very good some not. It is not accurate to say Haliburton ‘is nothing short of Stalinist central planning in free-market drag’.

  • troll

    headline – Haliburton descends into corporate anarchy Unable to provide the central planning necessary to rebuild the south

    troll

  • http://cranialcavity.net/wordpress/index.php marc

    Best comment of the thread goes to Maurice! Thanks.

    Nancy:

    the net effect is an image of vast & egregious impropriety, cronyism, fiscal corruption, & violation of a host of US laws regarding awarding of contracts

    Guess you didn’t read the part where both contracts were up for competitive bids, vice any of the trash in the blockquote above. Not surprising.

    Here is a portion of an Email written by the husband of a women that is on the ground in NO and flying DC National Gaurd missions daily. It specificly notes the good work KBR is doing at Naval Air station NO.

    Kellogg, Brown & Root, better known as Halliburton, is doing amazing stuff at Naval Air Station New Orleans. Just like in Kosovo, Baghdad, Khandahar and everywhere else our soldiers deploy to harsh conditions, KBR (as we call them in the military) has rushed in and set up huge dining facilities, brought in comforts and standard-of-living improvements, and made life on base in New Orleans far more better than it otherwise would be with the huge arrivals. One facility they set up is “like hundreds of tents long, huge!” She said they have good food and a lot of variety. They have also set up and facilitated the arrival and assembly of many many other things that are improving conditions there for the soldiers.

    Sounds like someone is doing a good job.

    At least better than the locals who can’t even decide whether or not to let residents back into the city.

  • steve

    If Haliburton is a qualified company dedicated in the rebuilding of NOLA, what is the problem? Haliburton is not a Monopoly…so I don’t understand why everyone raises such a stink about them. Just look at the great work that they have done overseas! I think that they are perfectly capable in handling the restoration of NOLA

    As far as minimum wages go…everyone who is working on minimum wage deserves what they are paid. most times they are clerks or hold like menial jobs. for the work that they do, why should they be overpaid? People on minimum wage have no motivation to make something of themselves, so they get no sympathy from me. why should someone who is unqualified be paid as much as an experienced, schooled, trained worker? A: THEY SHOULDNT

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Regarding #22 – that’s a separate inquiry, not the one we were originally discussing, and thus far there’s been no conclusion that his charges have any merit.

    As for the previous investigation, it was concluded and no fault was assigned to Halliburton despite the deficiency of their accounting techniques. And even then the amount of money in question was quite small compared to the total contract involved.

    You’re really grasping at straws in your witchhunt.

    Dave

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    >>If Haliburton is a qualified company dedicated in the rebuilding of NOLA, what is the problem? <<

    The problem is that it’s a company dominated by Republicans and associated with members of the administration, and is therefore evil and must be exterminated. It’s all just partisan hatred being expressed by targeting the company.

    Dave

  • steve

    kill the vermin!! LoL I know Dave, but I would like to see a legitimate argument which would perhaps “open my eyes” so to speak. They are a great successful company. No one should knock them for that.

  • Dr. Kurt

    Wow-lotta data here!
    The part that many of us, admittedly ignorant, taxpayers have a problem with is the “cost-plus” provision in Iraq. To wit: Halliburten reportedy scrapped functioning vehicles with flat tires, since they could then make an additional percentage on the replacement vehicle price. Waste more, earn more. When it is our money, we get upset at such stories. I wouldn’t hire & pay a homebuilder on this kind of basis, would you?

  • http://www.dysblog.blogspot.com Douglas Anthony Cooper

    Um, Dave? *You’re* the one who specified that we were discussing certain charges, and not others. I simply pointed out that Halliburton is under investigation for fraudulent practices in Iraq. Which they *currently* are. Add to which they are intimidating witnesses (whistle-blowers). “A great, successful company.” Absolutely. With a great and successful history of sleaze and profiteering.

    This minimum/prevailing wage debate is amazing to me. George wants to pour money into reconstruction. He wants to do something about poverty. Well, why not *hire locals and pay them a decent wage*? Isn’t that better than hand-outs?

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    >>Um, Dave? *You’re* the one who specified that we were discussing certain charges, and not others.< <

    No, we started out discussing the charges I was aware of, and you came up with another as yet unfiled charge.

    >> I simply pointed out that Halliburton is under investigation for fraudulent practices in Iraq. Which they *currently* are. Add to which they are intimidating witnesses (whistle-blowers).< <

    I didn't see any evidence to support the intimidation of whistle blowers, and this new investigation hasn't yet resulted in any concrete charges, correct?

    >> “A great, successful company.” Absolutely. With a great and successful history of sleaze and profiteering.< <

    And of doing a great deal of good work all over the world, and doing it at a competitive price.

    >>This minimum/prevailing wage debate is amazing to me. George wants to pour money into reconstruction. He wants to do something about poverty. Well, why not *hire locals and pay them a decent wage*? Isn’t that better than hand-outs?<<

    That’s exactly what he wants to do – pay them a fair wage rather than an inflated union wage so that he can hire enough people to do the job and bring them in from other areas where the wage they’ll be paid will be comensurate with what they are earning in right to work states rather than the excessive wage they would earn if they were actually allowed to work in a unionized state.

    Dave

  • http://www.dysblog.blogspot.com Douglas Anthony Cooper

    Bring them in from other areas, huh. That would really help the jobless people of Louisiana and Mississippi. The whole point of Davis-Bacon is to prevent the egregious practice of shipping in underpaid labor from deadbeat states (it was enacted during the Depression). Now, if you can demonstrate that union wages here are vastly inflated, fine — they certainly are in parts of America. This does not seem to be the case in the affected areas. What you are condoning, is Halliburton’s right to cut costs by shipping in borderline serfs. Would that be “compassionate” conservatism?

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Cooper, there aren’t enough people with the necessary skills in Louisiana to do this work. Yes, they can be drawn on for basic labor, but for electricians. plumbers, welders and other specialized, skilled workers they are going to need more than Louisiana can provide.

    And since when did ‘serfs’ earn $20 an hour? They’re not going to be able to hire these people unless they pay at least what they’re getting in Texas. There’s no forced labor involved here. It’s just a matter of undercutting excessive union wages. We’re talking about Carpenters and Masons getting $17 an hour instead of a union wage over $20 an hour or Electricians getting $20 an hour like they do in Texas instead of almost $23 an hour as set by unions. Not exactly low wages, but overall a substantial savings when cash is tight.

    Dave

  • http://www.dysblog.blogspot.com Douglas Anthony Cooper

    Um, how do you *know* we’re talking $17 an hour? Have you ever seen a Halliburton-like outfit pay anything more than the *absolute minimum they can get away with*? If nothing else, the pressure from shareholders dictates this. The quotation above suggested $9 an hour — Christ, even “steve” deserves more than 9 bucks an hour, for whatever he does in life.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    Because $17 an hour is what those workers can go get a similar job for in Texas or Oklahoma or Arkansas, so if they want to get those workers Haliburton will have to pay that wage. The $9 per hour is solely for completely unskilled labor. We’re talking trash moving labor, not even unskilled construction labor which they’ll have to pay about $12.

    There are market forces at work here, Cooper. All the lifting of restrictions does is allow that market to operate. It doesn’t force people to work for the offered wages.

    Dave

  • http://www.dysblog.blogspot.com Douglas Anthony Cooper

    If it weren’t so cynical, I’d call this kind of thinking utopian. They can “go get a similar job” — sure Dave. This is a seriously mobile labor force. They just pile the family into the Mercedes SUV, and go shopping for the best wages. Of course, they don’t have the means to leave their own city, even in the face of a murderous hurricane. I assure you, Halliburton will be able to get local employees for a *pittance.*

    The point is that we’re trying to revive a desperately impoverished area, which has been wiped out by a natural disaster (exacerbated by high-level incompetence). We are trying to *help* these people. Or we should be. Not to nickel and dime them into remaining a perpetual underclass. This is *not* business as usual.

    The recent census tells us that the level of poverty has risen consistently, every year of the Bush administration. And I sure don’t see that trend altering with this brave new approach. What we need is FDR, and what we have is a simian plutocrat and his merry band of apologists.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    >>If it weren’t so cynical, I’d call this kind of thinking utopian. They can “go get a similar job” — sure Dave. This is a seriously mobile labor force. They just pile the family into the Mercedes SUV, and go shopping for the best wages. Of course, they don’t have the means to leave their own city, even in the face of a murderous hurricane. I assure you, Halliburton will be able to get local employees for a *pittance.*< <

    You're remarkably ill-informed on this topic. I know a number of people who work in construction and related fields. They are absolutely a mobile population. They move where the work is. I know one guy who moves seasonally from the northwest to the southwest depending on where the jobs are at the time. We're not talking about former New Orelans residents here - that's not who these wage adjustments apply to. They are aimed at skilled construction labor who have trucks and who move where the work is. That's the reality.

    >>The point is that we’re trying to revive a desperately impoverished area, which has been wiped out by a natural disaster (exacerbated by high-level incompetence). We are trying to *help* these people. Or we should be. Not to nickel and dime them into remaining a perpetual underclass. This is *not* business as usual.< <

    This is irrelevant. The people you're talking about aren't unionized and aren't in the jobs we're referring to here. They are at best qualified for general labor type jobs at $9 an hour - which is a reasonable wage for that sort of work.

    >>The recent census tells us that the level of poverty has risen consistently, every year of the Bush administration. < <

    By an infinitessimally tiny amount, as part of a regular cycle which will eventually reverse itself. There's no causal relationship between the tiny increase in poverty and actions of the administration.

    >>And I sure don’t see that trend altering with this brave new approach. What we need is FDR, and what we have is a simian plutocrat and his merry band of apologists.<<

    Ok, so you’re just another irrational ideologue who doesn’t care about the facts and is on a crusade to bash bush. Glad you finally made it clear.

    Dave

  • http://www.dysblog.blogspot.com Douglas Anthony Cooper

    >By an infinitessimally tiny amount, as part of a >regular cycle which will eventually reverse itself. >There’s no causal relationship between the tiny >increase in poverty and actions of the >administration.”

    Please. And you call me an ideologue. If there were any *decrease*, I’m sure you’d be jumping up and down and howling to the world how this was all a *direct result* of supply side economics.

    I’m not an ideologue. Yes, I think you’re toadying to a loathsome buffoon, but I suspect I’m more conservative, in the classical sense, than you are.

  • http://www.dysblog.blogspot.com Douglas Anthony Cooper

    Actually, it’s comical that — on the same day that this claque has been busy defending the honesty and transparency of procurement policies at the White House — the man in charge of those policies has just been arrested for fraud and obstruction of justice:

    link to blogcritics story

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    >>Please. And you call me an ideologue. If there were any *decrease*, I’m sure you’d be jumping up and down and howling to the world how this was all a *direct result* of supply side economics.< <

    No, I've just looked at the figures. There's a regular cycle which is evident over a prolonged period of time, clearly related to the cycle of recessions we've experienced in recent years.

    >>I’m not an ideologue. Yes, I think you’re toadying to a loathsome buffoon, but I suspect I’m more conservative, in the classical sense, than you are. <<

    Who on earth am I toadying to by defying your attempt to propagandize and distort reality? And who ever said I was a conservative?

    Dave

  • http://www.dysblog.blogspot.com Douglas Anthony Cooper

    Ah, well thank god you’re not a conservative. Because then the hypocrisy would be a bit overwhelming, wouldn’t it? That your man (yes, you are toadying) is responsible for:

    – the expansion of government

    – the gutting of habeas corpus

    – the promotion of mediocrity (with convenient lip service to the idea of meritocracy)

    – increased federal powers

    – rank fiscal mismanagement (borrow and spend, as opposed to tax and spend)

    So, as I say, given that you seem to be in favor of all of the above, it speaks well of you that you don’t call yourself a conservative. Um, what *do* you call yourself?

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Who’s ‘my man’? My man didn’t win the 2004 election. Plus I’ve never given any indication I’m in favor of any of the things you list. I’ve written articles on BC against most of them. The fact that I support Halliburton and private contracting in general does NOT mean that I support every single action of the administration. What makes you leap to that conclusion? It’s not even vaguely logical.

    Dave

  • http://www.dysblog.blogspot.com Douglas Anthony Cooper

    Spare me. You’ve offered a condescending sigh of pity every time someone satirizes your beloved administration. I’ll collect them and post them here, if you’d like.

    So petty… so bitter… sigh…

    Again: what exactly *are* you? If the answer is classical liberal, or libertarian, you should can the sighing and start screaming.

  • http://www.dysblog.blogspot.com Douglas Anthony Cooper

    (And, yes I’m on “a crusade to bash Bush.” Why aren’t *you*?)

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    I’ve done my screaming, Cooper. I’m all for criticizing the administration when it does something wrong, but going after it for something like this is just pettiness.

    There’s a difference between going after actual flaws and errors and just bashing because Bush is Bush and therefore bashable.

    Dave

  • Nancy

    No…this thread is about Halliburton getting humongous contracts without benefit of any kind of bids whatsoever, in violation of federal law, on the flimsy excuse that there’s an emergency, but it just so happens that so many of Bush’s big donors & VP just by sheer coincidence are Halliburton connections, & that Halliburton has been fingered more than once on more than tenuous grounds for trying to overcharge, overbill, & just plain steal the government blind. That’s what we’re supposed to be discussing here.

  • http://www.dysblog.blogspot.com Douglas Anthony Cooper

    Nancy is, of course, Dead Right (to quote the title of a very bad book by a very old friend). This is getting way off topic, and the depredations of Halliburton are still worth discussing. So…

    I’m going to take this somewhere else. Nalle, presumably you believe in something (apart from the conviction — far from demonstrated — that you possess, sigh, transcendent wisdom). So let’s hear it. I’ve just posted an essay, written a couple of months ago, which sketches out my position:

    http://blogcritics.org/archives/2005/09/21/173253.php

    Feel free to do the same.