The Inaugural American Pie-in-the-Face
War Profiteering Awards


Expanded from the 10-14-2001 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune

We are dropping food, explosives and propaganda onto Afghanistan all at the same time. I don't know if many of the recipients can read, certainly the women are not supposed to, but the bombs and bread are part of a great American tradition which the president learned first-hand in Texas. Everyone is entitled to a last meal just before execution.

We have spawned a huge, conventional armed force which can beat the hell out of Hitler and Tojo should they ever attempt a comeback. But the escalating guerrilla attacks by a small number of twisted zealots call more for smart police work than smart bombs. But the policework part won't work and the big boys know it. We've been conducting a multi-billion dollar, multi-decade "war" on drugs with no discernible result.

All that's left is a WWII strategy against a smoke-and-mirrors enemy. Much of a grieving nation's reponse has been similar to irrational protests suffered by ghetto areas. After some provocation, the rioters destroy their own neighborhoods and their futures with them. They harm themselves in protesting harm.

Like an inconsolable woman who shreds her only garments grieving for the dead on a freezing-cold day, the victim who victimizes herself only compounds the suffering. And so our elected representatives pass laws eviscerating Constitutional rights which our founding fathers risked life and liberty to establish; which the greatest generation laid down many lives to preserve, protect and defend.

All of this will, I hope, remain fodder for increasing debate as time and temperature increase. For now, a little comic relief seems in order. The deserving are many and grotesquely predictable — those who would profit from human misery, the war profiteers of the new millennium.

Herewith, the first of what will be a continuing series of American-Pie-in-the-Face War Profiteering Awards. The powdery envelopes, please...

TO ORGANIZED CRIME, for stealing and selling scrap metal from the World Trade Center en route to storage and evidence examination. Some of you bastards probably had relatives die at the WTC, but even that didn't stop you.

TO HIGH-INTEREST CREDIT CARD ISSUERS. Alan Greenspan and the rest of the shylockian poobah establishment have cut interest rates to the lowest levels in 40 years. But you guys — and this includes a lot of major merchants like Wal-Mart — only take the cheaper cost of money as a way to extract more profit.

TO THE FOUR LAW FIRMS which sent mailings to the families of victims of the terrorist hijackings. You guys give ambulance chasers a bad name.

TO THE DRUG COMPANIES AND MARKETERS who have exploited anthrax fear by infesting the Internet with numerous ads for the antibiotic ciproflaxin, which may or may not help a real or imagined victim, but which will most certainly dry up the supply for those who may really need it.

TO DUBYA AND HIS STAFFERS for continuing to resist making airport security staffers into federal workers. Hey, guys — the private sector has failed miserably by providing only cosmetic security and lobbying against anything else as too costly.

TO THE NEW WORLD CHAMPION CORPORATE WELFARE QUEENS, the nation's airlines, who began formulating their strategy for a $15 billion ripoff of the public on Sept. 12. The bodies weren't even cold and some were still alive and all they could think about was a full court press for profit. [1]

TO DEFENSE CONTRACTORS AND CONGRESSIONAL DEMOCRATS who, respectively, pushed for and caved in on giving the president millions and millions for his Star Wars missile defense fantasy. Hey guys, answer me this question: why are there no missile-intercepting-missile scenarios in Star Wars, Star Trek or any other respectable sci-fi? Because good writers research their subjects and have found that no respectable scientist considers ballistic missile defense doable. That's why the Starship Enterprise has had a force field since 1967.

TO CONGRESSIONAL REPUBLICANS for totally cutting out any relief for workers.

TO THE OPPORTUNISTIC NUCLEAR LOBBY for immediately proposing to move the nation's bomb-grade plutonium supply to the Nevada Test Site. Talk about a quandary for Nevada rugged individualists — oppose this flag-draped shipment of nukes and someone will call your patriotism into question.

TO THE NORTHERN NEVADA PRESS for mostly ignoring the above story which ran in the Oct. 6 Las Vegas Review-Journal.

TO NEVADA GOV. DUDLEY DO-RIGHT who procrastinated in addressing his constituents and when he spoke, merely announced that their state government was going to do nothing special for them -- distributing only what was available anyway. Even the Las Vegas Strip overlords are angry with him over this one.

TO GAMBLING INDUSTRY REPS RICHARD BRYAN AND BILL BIBLE for getting a short term arrangement with the IRS to tax tipped workers a little less from now all the way through Hallowe'en. Big deal. (Even in good times, many tipped employees end a shift in the red because the assigned taxes they owe outstrip the money they actually make.) [2]

TO SOUTHERN NEVADA CASINO OVERLORDS for getting billions for high-speed rail built into an economic stimulus bill. A taxpayer-funded bullet train from L.A. to Vegas has been their fondest dream for decades. Now, with air travel crippled and not likely to recover until some far off day when real security is implemented, Vegas is reverting to 19th Century transportation technology and the same source which originally funded it.

CASINO OVERLORDS, PART DEUX — for firing over 15,000 longtime loyal workers without first assessing how long the slump might last. (All indications are that the ship is righting itself.)

TO MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI for doing the wrong thing by returning a $10 million relief check to some sheik who lectured him about U.S. policy toward Israel. Rudy, the New Yorker thing to do would have been to cash the check, then tell the sheik to screw off.

TO THOSE WHO PRAISE THE LATE SINGER KATE SMITH to whom Irving Berlin gave exclusive rights to sing his song "God Bless America" during WWII. My mother detested Smith all her life because of Smith's advocacy of imprisoning Italian-Americans in concentration camps as we did Japanese-Americans. That was neither blessed nor American.

AND FINALLY, PRAISE FOR NEVADA GOV. GUINN for the first and very much needed laugh of the tragedy in September. As Nevada commander-in-chief, he announced a series of emergency security measures, including beefing up protection of that national landmark and prime terrorist target, Rye Patch Dam in rural Lander County. I knew he'd come through in the clutch somehow. You gotta love the guy.

Stay of good heart.

Be well. Raise hell.


[1] The New York Times, 10-10-2001, "Bailout Showed the Weight of a Mighty, and Fast-Acting, Lobby — The speed with which Congress agreed to $15 billion in aid and loan guarantees after the terrorist attack is a testament to the power and skill of the airline lobby..."

[2] IRS allows temporary reduction in tip tax

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© Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 32-year Nevadan, a member Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of NevadaLabor.com and JoeNeal.org/ Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.)Tribune since 1988 .

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