4/04/2006

Profiting from Disaster

Throughout our history there have always been those for whom war, disasters and the like have been a means to profit. World Wars I and II, as well as the multitude of post-1945 foreign wars, generated a substantial increase in U.S. corporate profits thanks to the increase in military and defense spending. The New York Times reported in 1940 that Standard Oil and other U.S.Japan) with oil and other technical information. companies were continuing to supply even Nazi Germany (and And, “beginning with 1965, the rapid Vietnam buildup of military contracts gave several years of extra life to the tired boom and raised it to new heights: This added stimulation was primarily for military reasons; its economic consequences were side-effects.” (Victor Perlo, “Economic Aspects of Military Spending”, in David Mermelstein: “The Economic Crisis Reader”, 1975)

When the Soviet Union collapsed, the U.S. emerged as the great world economic power. According to an article on http://abundance.org.uk/ (The Profits of Abundance and War, Part xi), “We are now witnessing the development of a war policy which appears to envisage war continuing for the foreseeable future, not just to boost America’s massive armaments corporations, but the economy as a whole.”

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and former Secretary of State George Schulz each hold millions of dollars worth of in shares of Gilead Sciences, the biotech company which owns the rights to Tamiflu. Fear of a pandemic of bird flu has sent their stocks soaring. (more at http://money.cnn.com/2005/10/31/news/newsmakers/fortune_rumsfeld/) Another company, Chiron Corp., was recently awarded a $62.5 million dollar contract by the Department of Health and Human Services to begin producing a similar vaccine. Of course we want to be prepared, but an article at www.WantToKnow.info notes, “Isn’t it interesting that over $60 million dollars has been “awarded for a vaccine against a bird flu that hasn’t even mutated yet?...How do we know these vaccines will work when it hasn’t even mutated?...the pharmaceutical industry…is raking in huge profits…”

Then of course there’s Exxon/Mobil, which announced yesterday it is now America’s largest corporation, surpassing even Wal-Mart. Interesting that their highest profits were recorded in the quarter following Hurricane Katrina. Of course they are a business, but wouldn’t it be nice if during times of human misery, profit might be considered secondary to relief?

Lao Tzu wrote, “Throw away industry and profit, and there won’t be any thieves.” (#19) “When a country is in harmony with the Tao, the factories make trucks and tractors. When a country goes counter to the Tao, warheads are stockpiled outside the cities.” (#46)

2 comments:

The Rambling Taoist said...

How right Lao Tzu was!

Formspring Clone said...

Thanks for the share. It was very interesting and informative.
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