The Hightower Report

Casualties of Bush's Contract Army; and Outsourcing America


OUTSOURCING AMERICA

Maybe you've noticed that America's call-center jobs are largely being outsourced to India. Well, you say, I'm more skilled than that, so I can't worry about it. Then you note that our accounting jobs, legal research, and architectural drafting work are being taken to India, too – but, hey, you do sophisticated stuff, so you can't sweat those losses. Lately though, you've also seen that our country's high tech computer jobs are being shipped to India – and uh-oh, that's getting close to what you do. Still, you say, I'm a professional, by gollies, so I'm OK.

Well … good luck. The latest surge of jobs heading to India might well include yours. Such outfits as Citigroup, Boeing, and Eli Lilly & Co. are now moving out the work of white-collar elites – including investment banking, aircraft design, and the clinical testing of drugs. "High-end outsourcing" is the new wave, and it's pulling away the professional work of well-educated Americans who have been enjoying six-figure salaries, nice homes, and the good life.

Economist Alan Binder, a former top official at the Federal Reserve, says, "We have, so far, barely seen the tip of the offshoring iceberg, the eventual dimensions of which may be staggering." How staggering? Binder says up to 42 million American workers – about one-third of us – are looking at a rude awakening.

What's the middle-class future then? Binder says America needs to increase jobs that have to be done in person, so they can't be outsourced – jobs like doctors and police officers. Yeah, well, I'm thinking we'll need lots of police officers to contain everyone who can't be a doctor! And … how exactly are the rest of us to pay for seeing the doctor?

It used to be "them" who had to worry about outsourcing. Now it's "us." Our politicians have got to quit pretending that this is not a problem – and start developing policies to revitalize American's middle class.


CASUALTIES OF BUSH'S CONTRACT ARMY

Here comes another dirty little secret about the Bushites' disastrous Iraq war: Many more American troops have died there than they have admitted. These troops aren't part of the Army or other official military units. They are part of the hidden "contract army" that Bush has quietly sent to war. While there are about 150,000 U.S. military personnel in Iraq, there are more than 120,000 other men and women serving alongside the military but drawing their paychecks through such Pentagon contractors as Halliburton, Blackwater, DynCorp International, and Custer Battles.

Bush's corporate army not only provides support services – including doing laundry, serving meals, and delivering water – but it also is engaged in such direct military functions as interrogating prisoners, training the Iraq army, guarding the Green Zone, protecting military convoys, analyzing intelligence, and providing paramilitary security.

These are hired hands, not soldiers, and mostly they lack the training, discipline, and equipment of the regular forces – yet they're thrown into the same deadly environment, getting shot, bombed, maimed, and killed. And the Bushites don't even keep count of them. A spokesman coldly says, "There is no requirement for the U.S. government to track these numbers."

Excuse me, but they're not numbers. They are people. And the Labor Department, which receives workers' compensation claims, has quietly recorded that at least 917 of these people have died in Bush's war. Another 12,000 have been wounded in battle or injured on the job. That's about one-third more causalities than the Bushites have told us about – a hidden toll of this awful war and another measure of its deceit and immorality.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky is sponsoring a bill to require the Pentagon to have the decency to start counting those people killed and maimed in Bush's privatized military. For information, call 202/225-2111.

For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown – visit www.jimhightower.com. You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio, 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Iraq war, Pentagon contractors, Jan Schakowsky, outsourcing, white-collar jobs, middle class, Alan Binder

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