US: Defense and oil company executives reap windfalls from Iraq war
By Naomi Spencer
15 September 2006
Since September 11, 2001, and the Bush administration’s initiation of the “war on terror,” inequality in the US has grown at a rapid rate and to grotesque proportions. The criminal nature of war on Iraq is reflected in every facet of American life, least surprisingly of all in the enormous fortunes of the ruling elite. Indeed, the current war, the most privatized in history, is viewed by a wide range of corporate executives and investors as an open-ended outsourcing opportunity.
Congress has appropriated more than $314 billion thus far for the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, largely at the expense of infrastructure, education, and other basic requisites for modern life at home. The massive government expenditures and cuts in vital social programs that characterize the US war economy, however, far from fostering restraint on the part of big business, have paved the way for shameless price gouging, corporate windfalls, tax cuts, pension-gutting and pay cuts for average workers in the US.
Results of “Executive Excess 2006,” the thirteenth annual chief executive officer compensation survey by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), underscore the fact that the war has benefited a very few to the detriment of the broad mass of the population, both domestically and internationally.
Business Week estimates that in 1980 the ratio of US executive to worker pay was 42-to-1. IPS found that by 1990 the CEO-worker pay gap had grown to 107-to-1. In the period following 1990, one dominated by unprecedented deregulation and globalization, executive pay soared while workers’ wages by and large stagnated, generating a pay gap of 411-to-1. “If the minimum wage had risen at the same pace as CEO pay since 1990,” the report notes, “it would be worth $22.61 today, rather than the actual $5.15.” Similarly, average worker pay would be more than $108,000 in 2005, rather than $28,314.