Crunching the Numbers Before the Numbers Crunch Us


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“Americans are properly outraged at the ridiculous compensation packages of Wall Street financial barons. But there are other fat cats receiving outrageous amounts of public money that we are not hearing about. Congress and President Obama should turn their attention to America’s war profiteers next….”

Author: Jean Athey, Board of Peace Action, the nation’s largest peace group
Published in: Huntington News Network (home page: http://www.huntingtonnews.net/) in West Virginia
Date: April 3, 2009

For the full article:
Crunching the Numbers Before the Numbers Crunch Us
(404 words)
by Jean Athey

Americans are properly outraged at the ridiculous compensation packages of Wall Street financial barons. But there are other fat cats receiving outrageous amounts of public money that we are not hearing about. Congress and President Obama should turn their attention to America’s war profiteers next.

President Franklin Roosevelt was concerned when his government arranged a contract with Hughes Aircraft, worried that Hughes would be seen as a private company profiting from the country’s war, with the Roosevelt administration complicit. We no longer hear any such concern, even though contractors today profit from our country’s wars to an extraordinary and unprecedented degree.

For example, some 84 percent of the income of Lockheed Martin comes from taxpayers through Federal contracts, and thus about 84 percent of the company’s profits are taxpayer dollars — amounting to a total of $4.368 billion taxpayer-funded profits for 2008.

Lockheed Martin’s CEO, Robert J. Stevens, collected $36.56 million for 2007, the latest year for which public information is available. That is, in 2007 the compensation of just one Lockheed Martin executive amounted to about a quarter of the total of all the AIG bonuses that people have been so angry about. And almost $30.7 million of his pay came from us.

The Washington Post reported in February 2009 that Steven’s bonus would be greater in 2009 than it was in 2008; and that it was greater in 2008 than in 2007.

Lockheed Martin is consistently over-budget, consistently costing the government more than originally agreed to and thus, one would think, consistently performing poorly. Yet Stevens has seen his total compensation rise dramatically. For what? You have to wonder if the huge Lockheed Martin lobbying budget has something to do with that: $15,821,506 in 2008. And remember that we taxpayers are paying for that lobbying, too.

The federal government; i.e., the taxpayers, pay most of Lockheed Martin executives’ salaries. Why should we not require Lockheed Martin to abide by federal government employee compensation rules? Let’s ask Congress to require that military contractors’ executives make no more than their putative boss, the Secretary of Defense. Why should Lockheed Martin’s CEO receive a tax-payer-funded compensation package about 18 times greater than that of the Secretary of Defense?

And while we are at it, let’s make it illegal for contractors like Lockheed Martin to spend what are our tax dollars to lobby our legislators for contracts for which they personally benefit.

Where is the outrage here?
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Jean Athey (jeanathey@verizon.net) is a member of the Board of Peace Action, the nation’s largest peace group. She lives in Montgomery County, Maryland.