Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Making Money on Misery & Fear

The Age of Disaster Capitalism

In the days after 9/11, America's firefighters, nurses and teachers were hailed as the country's heroes. But President Bush's embracing of the public sector didn't last long. As the dust settled on the twin towers, the White House launched an entirely new economy, based on security - with the belief that only private firms could meet the challenge. In this exclusive extract from her new book, Naomi Klein reports on those who see a profitable prospect in a grim future.

"Every aspect of the way the Bush administration has defined the parameters of the war on terror has served to maximise its profitability and sustainability as a market ... The document that launched the department of homeland security declares, "Today's terrorists can strike at any place, at any time, and with virtually any weapon," which conveniently means that the security services required must protect against every imaginable risk in every conceivable place at every possible time. And it's not necessary to prove that a threat is real for it to merit a full-scale response - not with Cheney's famous "1% doctrine"...it requires that the US respond as if the threat is a 100% certainty. This logic has been a particular boon for the makers of various hi-tech detection devices: for instance, because we can conceive of a smallpox attack, the department of homeland security has handed out half a billion dollars to private companies to develop and install detection equipment...That was the business prospectus that the Bush administration put before corporate America after September 11.

The revenue stream was a seemingly bottomless supply of tax dollars to be funnelled from the Pentagon ($270bn in 2005 to private contractors, a $137bn increase since Bush took office), US intelligence agencies and the newest arrival, the department of homeland security. Between September 11 2001 and 2006, the Department of Homeland Security handed out $130bn to contractors - money that was not in the private sector before and that is more than the GDP of Chile or the Czech Republic."

Click HERE for the rest of the story


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