Blackwater and the Right’s Selective Economic Literacy

Here’s what I want to add to the discussion of the depredations of the mercenary firm Blackwater Inc, especially the latest development that their personnel handle themselves hardly differently than combat troops. A correspondent to Talking Points Memo today explains how the ascension of the contrator mentality began decimating his military duty station:

even at that point my unit was losing senior enlisted who decided to get out and, as you stated, do what they were doing anyway but privately and for substantially more money. This continued over my five years of service, and one of the factors that led to my leaving military service was that I could look up the chain and see the proverbial rats fleeing the ship. These were individuals with 12-16 years of service too!! They could retire at 20 years, but decided to leave and go private.


The reason, he explains, is simple: “the U.S. Govenrment would pay a contractor 10 times (or more) what we were making to do the EXACT same thing.” What’s more, despite their exorbitant pay, there were “no guarantees that the results would be on par with ours or better.” Indeed, they were often worse: “This stemmed from the fact that private companies jumping into the bidding process to get a piece of the pie had never before done the work that we were doing. If/when they would win the bids, they would just hire whomever and throw them at the mission.”

Here’s my two cents: I hate conservatives. Their enterprise is fundamentally corrupt.

OK. No news there. Allow me, though, to elaborate.

Whenever some progressive accomplishment looms that promises to make America a freer, fairer place, right-wingers rush to fill the gap with clichés from their Economics 101 classes, usually getting things badly wrong. See here for a herd of Freepers insisting that the newly passed College Cost Reduction and Access Act, with the likes of its Bolsheviki “LOANS ARE FORGIVEN AFTER 25 YEARS” clause (emphasis provided by Freeper), will rocket tuitions further into the stratosphere. The idea is that schools will simply take advantage of looser money for students by raising their prices. As if the bill’s drafters, who are not idiots, hadn’t built in incentives to prevent that very thing.

But isn’t it curious how conservatives’ vaunted “economic literacy” goes missing when it comes to a mercenary army that creates market distortions as glaring as nationalizing the steel mills?

This Free Republic post on the Blackwater investigation drew a single comment—they simply don’t care. Actually, it’s not that they don’t care about the scandal at all. They’ve just located the true enemy. Consider this one, which balanced out a lone complaint about the overpayment of military contractors with the reflection, “It would be nice if the FEDS would investigate Reid, Murtha and other DEM crooks as well as these conservative companies and politicians.” Those are both from this past weekend; the mounting scandal might be the talk of the rest nation, but not on the marquee right-wing web forum. The most recent post is from almost 24 hours ago. It is headlined “Tabloid Attack Dogs Seek Next Victims: KBR and Blackwater,” and drew but twelve comments, including a bold “I love KBR!”, another noting, “Blackwater has many, many connections. They ain’t going nowhere! “—and one, only one, that contemplates the economic issue, in a manner of speaking: “If the people do not support the actual cost of the war, in lives as well as treasure then perhaps we should ‘cut and run’ and await our eventual fate of death or dhimmitude.”

That one includes the following caveat: “Not saying that the operatives of Blackwater aren’t ass-kicking patriots, they rock!”

Republican economic literacy at work.

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