Klein-Disaster Capitalism-Harpers 2007

under george w bush the state still has all the

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Unformatted text preview: u to come back and tell us how to do our business." The department's inspector general explained that Homeland Security "does not have the capacity needed to effectively plan, oversee, and execute the [Secure Border Initiative] program." Under George W. Bush, the state still has all the trappings of a government-the impressive buildings, presidential press briefings, policy battles-but it no more does the actual work of governing than the employees at Nike's Beaverton, Oregon, campus stitch running shoes. he implications of the decision by the current crop of politicians to systematically outsource their elected responsibilities will reach far beyond a single administration. Once a market has been created, it needs to be protected. The companies at the heart of the disaster-capitalism complex increasingly regard both the state and nonprofits as competitors; from the corporate perspective, whenever governments or charities fulfill their traditional roles, they are denying contractors work that could be performed at a profit. "Neglected Defense: Mobilizing the Private Sector to Support Homeland Security," a 2006 report whose advisory committee included some of the largest corporations in the sector, warned that "the compassionate federal impulse to provide emergency assistance to the victims of disasters affects the market's approach to managing its exposure to risk." Published by the Council on Foreign Relations, the report argued that if people know the government will come to the rescue, they have no incentive to pay for protection. In a similar vein, a year after Katrina, CEOs from thirty of the largest corporations in the United States joined together under the umbrella of the Business Roundtable, which includes in its membership Fluor, Bechtel, and Chevron. The group, calling itself Partnership for Disaster Response, complained of "mission creep" by the nonprofit sector in the aftermath of disasters. The mercenary firms, meanwhile, have been loudly claiming that they are better equipped than the U.N. to engage in peacekeeping in Darfur. Much of this new aggressiveness flows from suspicion that the golden era of bottomless federal contracts might not last much longer. The U.S. government is barreling toward an economic crisis, thanks in no small part to the deficit spending that has bankrolled the privatized disaster economy. Sooner rather than later, the contracts are likely to dip significantly. In late 2006 defense analysts began predicting that the Pentagon's acquisitions budget could shrink by as much as 25 percent in the coming decade. When the disaster bubble bursts, firms such as Bechtel, Fluor, and Blackwater will lose much of their primary revenue streams. They will still have all the high-tech equipment bought at taxpayer expense, but they will need to find a new business model, a new way to cover their high costs. The next phase of the disaster-capitalism complex is all too clear: with emergencies on the rise, government no longer able to foot the bill, and citizens stranded by their hollow state, the paral...
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This note was uploaded on 04/19/2011 for the course AMST 150 taught by Professor Perkinson during the Fall '10 term at University of Hawaii, Manoa.

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