Sep 26, 2005
Over 60 billion dollars has already been slated for "rebuilding" New Orleans and the Gulf coast area devastated by Hurricane Katrina. And there is talk that the total cost will reach well over 200 billion dollars.
FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers have already awarded big money contracts to corporations like Halliburton, Bechtel, the Shaw Group and Fluor for the "rebuilding" of Louisiana and Mississippi.
These are no-bid contracts, handed out to those corporations. They're also "cost-plus" and "infinite delivery-infinite quantity" contracts. Put into plain English, it means the corporations can write their own tickets – saying they needed to spend any amount they want, and they're guaranteed to be paid for that amount, PLUS a guaranteed profit margin on top of that.
We can see what has happened when these same companies were given the same kinds of contracts in Iraq. Halliburton has already been paid more than nine billion dollars on those contracts. An audit shows Halliburton was paid for over one billion dollars in "questioned" costs, and 422 million dollars in "unsupported" costs. Meanwhile, everything they were supposed to "rebuild" is still a giant disaster.
Nothing's been done to yank Halliburton's Iraq contracts or make them pay this money back. Instead, they're being rewarded with even more contracts – this time here in the U.S.
Very little of that money will be seen by the people who need it most.
There IS a crying need for money to be spent in the region, and right now. There are hundreds of thousands – close to a million people – left without homes, livelihood and the bare means of survival. Communities in the area that have taken in refugees created by the disaster – all the larger cities as well as smaller towns – have had their budgets completely drained by the money that they've already spent tending to the needs of people forced to flee New Orleans and other coast areas. The strain has all but wiped out local budgets for schools, city services, and fire departments – in other words, local emergency response – all up and down the region. This sets the stage for even more disasters, on large and small scales.
These communities have been crying out for some of that money from FEMA and other agencies, to repay at least some of what they have spent. But so far, they haven't gotten one single cent.
This isn't incompetence. This IS government policy: to use this horrible human catastrophe as an excuse to hand over billions of dollars to their buddies, while leaving the real needs of millions of people unmet.
Bush has said, "We will do whatever it takes" in the Gulf. What he really means is, "We will do whatever it takes to give as much money to my friends as I possibly can!"