Nothing makes political hookers forget their differences like the billions of dollars to be skimmed from our nation’s bloated hurricane recovery spending.
I’m not talking about the money which will eventually reach the 150 million Americans impacted by this year’s devastating hurricane season. I’m talking about the billions of taxpayer dollars being diverted from them by the corrupt Democratic and Republican political machines and their pals at politically connected engineering companies.
The off-the-record answer Michael Brown – of “good job Brownie” fame – gave me after Hurricane Katrina still rings true.
“Politics never gets pushed to the back of the bus in Washington,” the former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said in a moment of brutal honesty in 2006. “It doesn’t matter how many Americans die.”
I had just told Brown I didn’t understand why federal and state lawmakers kept playing politics after Katrina killed 1,836 Americans in 2005. Why they kept jockeying for position by seeking to assign blame and credit according to party affiliation.
“How many Americans have to die before politics gets pushed to the back of the bus,” I wondered aloud in a conference room of the D.C. bureau of Bloomberg News. “You know?”
The off-the-record exchange followed an on-the-record interview. It occurred just a few months after I led the body count inside St. Rita’s Nursing Home, where 35 elderly Americans died during Katrina.
“Don’t talk like that to anyone else,” Brown advised me. “People in DC won’t respect you if they hear you talk like that.”
To his credit, Brown agreed to put those remarks on the record a few years later. Which is the only reason you’re reading them now.
The wanton and entirely legal corruption of the Democratic and Republican machines grossly inflates the cost of disasters, in combination with Wall Street profiteering. Just as it does with our nation’s bloated spending on defense, medicine, intelligence, transportation, education, the legal system, and law enforcement.
That’s the reason the cost of the 2017 hurricane season is projected to go as high as $395 billion, according to Wall Street estimates. Even though Hurricanes Maria, Irma and Harvey only claimed 230 lives.
By comparison, the three devastating hurricanes of 2005 – Katrina, Rita and Wilma – claimed 2,018 lives and cost $187 billion in inflation adjusted dollars.
To put it another way, hurricanes cost us about $93 million per dead American in 2005. Whereas each fatality this year will cost $1.7 billion. Which is how the 17th deadliest hurricane season in U.S. history is morphing into the most costly.
We’re paying 18 times more for each dead American now in same year dollars than we did just 12 years ago.
Corruption. The larger spending helps political hookers and their buddies on Wall Street pilfer the federal treasury more efficiently.
Federal lawmakers approved another $36.5 billion in disaster spending yesterday.
However, the numbers aren't going up because of climate change. They're increasing due to the wanton corruption of our venal lawmakers in Washington, D.C., and their owners on Wall Street.
Case in point, the $300 million contract Whitefish Energy just received from the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority to repair and rebuild large portions of the island’s electrical infrastructure, according to The Washington Post. The contract is the biggest so far of the troubled relief effort.
Never mind that Whitefish Energy only has two full-time workers.
Never mind that most of the 3.4 million American citizens who live in Puerto Rico have been without power for 35 days.
The important thing for the Trump regime is that this tiny company is located in Whitefish, Mont. A community of 7,300 which is the capital of the Alt-Right movement favored by our nation’s first fascist president.
Instead of relying on the mutual assistance of its fellow utilities, Puerto Rico's cash strapped electric company will be paying Whitefish $330 per hour for site supervisors, $228 per hour for journeyman linemen, $462 per hour for each temporary supervisor, and $319 for each temporary lineman.
Linemen are the guys who climb the poles and work the bucket trucks.
Whitefish Energy will also receive daily lodging and food payments of $412 per worker from the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority.
That works out to between $2,500 and $4,000 per worker for each 10-hour shift, which is far sight more than the $58 Americans earn for a day's work at Wal-Mart.
If you think any for-profit company is going to actually pass along all that kind of money to a sweaty, hardworking, honest lineman you have rocks in your head.
Hello Corporate Tyranny
Most of the financial benefits of the Whitefish Energy contract will never trickle down to them. Instead, they'll be pocketed by management and their political friends in the land of air conditioning.
Here's how the recovery shell game works: Lawmakers allocate enough tax dollars to make sure recovery workers are well paid, but the politically connected firms in the middle pocket most of it. The companies kick-back some to the politicians via campaign donations and low-show jobs for their friends and kids.
The temporary lineworkers hired by Whitefish Energy will be lucky to make between $10 and $50 per hour.
They will never see $319 per hour, much less $412 per day for food and lodging.
Whitefish is more likely to spend $50 a day to stick its temporary workers in idle tourist hotels that are desperate to fill their beds, and another $10 feeding them. And to force anyone who questions them to pay their own way home.
How do I know?
I’ve covered 15 hurricanes in the field and have more than 20 years in journalism. Much of it with big wire services like Bloomberg News, The Associated Press, and Gannett News Service, which simultaneously distributed my articles to hundreds of news organizations.
It’s not a lot of fun to see people’s grandparents after they’ve been floating in 90-degree water for five days, as they were at St. Rita’s Nursing Home after Katrina. Or to see corpses that look like they've been carved from butter trapped in hospital beds and tangled in their own bed sheets – filthy catheters hanging out of them.
The world would be a better place today if there had been a way to drag every member of Congress to hard-hit St. Bernard Parish in Louisiana in 2005 and make them haul the bodies out of St. Rita’s with their bare hands. Because Painful Truth No. 156.728 Gazillion is that our not-so-representative "elected representatives" don't give a damn about us any more.
They refer to us as "the masses now" because we're not people to them. We're just the faceless trash which inhabits the world outside the walls of their country clubs, gated communities, private schools, doorman buildings, and chauffeur driven limousines.
The Age of Corruption
I still recall Junior Rodriguez, president of the St. Bernard Parish Council, lamenting the way the Federal Emergency Management Agency handled cleanup contracts in 2005. Junior was a tough old bird, who carried a gold headed cane like the Boss Hogg character in the old Dukes of Hazard TV show, but that didn't stop him from breaking down during one television interview and shedding tears for his devastated community and dead neighbors.
“We awarded a contract to a local debris removal company just a few days after the storm and they were all ready to get right to work, but when FEMA finally got here they told us it was no good,” Rodriguez said. “They said everything had to go through big engineering companies like Fleur and Kiewit, which are pre-certified by FEMA and politically connected.”
Apparently, those pre-certification requirements don’t apply to Whitefish Energy. Which is the best proof that Trump isn’t really draining “the swamp.” Just diverting its corrupt waters into his own pockets.
This is possible because our millionaire Congress – which has a 14 percent approval rating and a 90 percent re-election rate – legalized corruption in the wake of 9/11. To such an extent it represents a bloodless coup which has made poor and middle class Americans powerless, irrelevant and invisible in our own nation.
Our worthless U.S. Supreme Court pulled a similar stunt in 2010, with a Citizens United ruling that took the cap off corporate election spending and turned our elections into auctions.
One of the off-shoots of this Age of Corruption has been a huge increase in wasteful government contracts at the federal, state and local levels. Industries are now allowed to regulate themselves, via a cockamamie concept called “self regulation.”
Our lawmakers don't regulate anyone any more. instead, they function more like a corporate protection racket, clearing the way for treasonous behavior by the wealthy and well connected.
Case in point, the $218 million in tax breaks Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds recently lavished on Apple Inc. for a data center employing just 50 people and the chance to hold a taxpayer-funded political campaign event beside CEO Tim Cook (right). The economic development deal represents lost tax revenue of $4 million per job.
Iowa made this payoff to the most profitable company in the history of the world, which cleared a record $53.4 billion on sales of $233.7 billion in 2015.
If Apple had been a country its sales would have exceeded the national economies of 166 of the 211 countries on Planet Earth. Which is why Iowa needed to subsidize a company which pays third-world wages to its factory workers in China while charging its American consumers first-world prices via a shameful deal which sets a new high-water mark for redistribution of wealth from the poor and middle class to the super rich.
The old mark was established in 1992 when South Carolina gave BMW $130 million in tax breaks for an auto plant employing 8,800. That's about $14,800 per job.
Iowa is paying 271 times as much for each Apple job. On a percentage basis, we’re talking about an increase of 30,178 percent.
What’s it all mean?
To steal a line from the basketball world: “ball don’t lie." Neither do these numbers.
They are simply indefensible by anyone who respects the concepts of inherent truth and public service.
The huge increases we’re seeing in disaster costs and job creation incentives expose the rampant corruption underway in DC and Wall Street more elegantly than I ever could.
-Eighteen times more spending per hurricane victim.
-Two-hundred-seventy-one times more spending per job.
Has the world gone insane?
Sadly, the answer is no. Just the U.S.
Our treasonous elites have gotten steadily richer since 1982 as the rest of America has grown ever poorer.
In 1982, the average net worth of the 400 richest Americans was $230 million, according to Forbes. In 2016, it was $6 billion. Meaning, their wealth grew 10 times after being adjusting for inflation.
Where did all this new money come from?
Your pocket and mine.
Which is why I don’t mourn any more when I hear that a federal lawmaker has been shot or diagnosed with a fatal disease. I simply refuse to shed a tear over generation of toxic elites which is undermining our democracy and our status as the leader of the free world. global .
Painful Truth No. 156.729 Gazillion: The world is not a better place with them in it.
I'm neither advocating revolution nor violence. But if self-preservation is an instinct you possess you better wake up to how bad things have gotten quick, fast and in a hurry.
This isn’t about empowered citizens in Red States and Blue States. It’s about owners and slaves.
I don't know about you, but I don't want to see America's poor and middle class kids grow up to be slaves.
It's already happening thanks to an to an incredible increase in U.S. college tuition costs of 1,120 over the past 30 years, according to Affordable Schools. The average cost of attending a four-year college or university is now $36,000 average a year, which translates into a total debt of more than $140,000 at a time of mammoth job destruction and stagnant wages.
The tuition increases are being driven by for-profit colleges, like the ones who spend millions on Super Bowl advertising. They need the additional tuition money to keep their wealthy investors happy.
For-profit colleges can secure legal protection from their creditors by declaring bankruptcy. Our kids cannot. They're on the hook for their college loans for the rest of their lives, which makes them debt slaves.
Care to guess who wrote that law?
How long before they approve a new law passing the unpaid debts of our kids along to our grandkids?