Monday, March 12, 2007

Making The World Safe For Halliburton

With the recent news that infamous oil-services giant Halliburton plans to move its HQ to Dubai (in the United Arab Emirates), your Demon Princess had one of those "aha!" moments. It all coalesced. (Title bar.)

It's plain to us in the U.S. that, short of impeachment, there's no way to slow or significantly impede the Neocon vision of WWIII in the Mideast. George, Cheney (oilmen, after all) & their collective hangers-on & power-mongers aren't the least bit dissuaded from their goals, & unfortunately, the Democrats --despite some efforts--mostly noise, seem to have given up on stopping them. The Bush juggernaut to dominate the oil-rich Mideast has not in the least been effectively persuaded to jettison its imperial ambitions by having its myths, lies & lame cooked-intelligence gambits exposed. This despite the fact that a majority of American voters want out.
The GWOT on Terror will not only proceed, but expand, & in the middle of it all, who really benefits from it?
Halliburton deciding now to plop itself down square in the middle of it provides a clue. Sure, they're spinning off the corrupt KBR subsidary so they can avoid the drag on stock earnings, but Halliburton itself will survive to exploit the situation made palatable by the sacrifices made by our kids & the civilian populations of the countries we occupy.
This comment on the WaPo story from blogger Desert Beacon brings up some excellent points:
"...Is Halliburton trying to escape reporting rules? Income Halliburton earns abroad would not be subject to U.S. taxes, but would be required to observe the provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and those of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. In light of the Halliburton announcement, the efforts by some Congressional Republicans to water-down Sarbanes-Oxley reporting requirements looks ever more ominous.
"How does this issue relate to the Fast Track authority the White House wants renewed in June? The U.S. launched FTA negotiations with the United Arab Emirates in March 2005, after GAFTA came into existence that January. [Wik] Hopes for reaching agreement appear to hinge on the White House getting "fast track" trade negotiating authority that expires at the end of June. The White House must notify Congress of any deals it plans to sign by the end of March. [WaPo]
"Are Halliburton's colors showing (and they may not be red, white, and blue)? The right wing Heritage Foundation opined last year that "Free Trade with the UAE supports America's national security interests." However, labor and civil rights issues continue to dog efforts by the Bush Administration to sell the deal to the American people. Approximately 80% of the UAE population consists of foreign laborers who are subject to extraordinary control by their corporate sponsors, and who've been subjected to nonpayment of wages, extended work hours without overtime, unsafe working conditions, squalid living conditions, and the withholding of passports and travel documents by employers. [HRW]
"The UAE is NOT a signator to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Protection of Migrant Worker's Rights, and the Convention against Torture. [HRW] In short, Dubai almost sounds like the perfect headquarters for Vice President Cheney's company?
"And, then there's the money. In 2003 Halliburton had a record revenue of $16.3 billion, including contracts with the Department of Defense worth $4.3 billion. In the previous five years it had gotten less than $2.5 billion form the U.S. military. [CPI] The year wasn't over before CBS news was reporting that a Pentagon audit found overcharges of $61 million in Halliburton's oil reconstruction accounting. [CBS] [CorpWatch]
"Three years later Halliburton has received about $27 billion in profitable no-bid contracts from the U.S. government, and now intends replace its obligations to the Internal Revenue Service with payments to the Dubai Revenue Department. [BC]
"In return for leaving Houston and exchanging U.S. taxes for Dubai levies, Halliburton gets the protection of 160,000 members of the U.S. Armed Forces next door in Iraq, and a sizeable portion of the U.S. Navy in the Gulf of Hormuz. Perhaps the last question should be: Will the U.S. government require that Halliburton get its own protection in the region -- or will U.S. taxpayers continue to foot the bill?"
Yes, all in all, the signs seem to be pointing to a very smart business move on Halliburton's part, maximizing markets, profits & evading regulatory obligations & just possibly, taxes ~ all with a little help from being in a position to influence politix.
After all, despite the pretty rhetoric of democracy in the Mideast, we all know that what is meant by that is democracy as a condition precedent for capitalism, the God we in America really worship.
And it's no longer the capitalism of small shop-owners & entrepreneurs, as it once was. It's democracy in service to multi-national corporations that, with the accumulated gains & the right political connections, can afford to shop venues for the most hospitable conditions in terms of taxes, regulations, & of course, labor. In short, maximizing profits by maximizing exploitation, & no worries about non-economic (read "humanitarian") concerns.
To the victors go the spoils, as well as the right to revise history in their honor. Bushco should be congratulating themselves for a grand plan well-executed. Who cares if it's founded in blood & lives & exploitation? We'll deal with that later.
Boy, will we deal with that later.
And as for your DP, she's really glad she isn't a tax lawyer. In good conscience, she'd have to kill herself.



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