|When duty calls ..|
There are few things in life more pleasurable than spending other people's
money. Indeed the average
voter in a social
democracy likes it so much they are even willing to let other people spend
their own money in exchange. Surely a worthy tradeoff for those volunteering
for it, just a little unfair on those of us who would like to opt out of the
But spending of other people's money is about to happen on a massive
international scale. Billions of dollars are going to be spent on rebuilding Iraq when the current regime
falls (or is ignored), and the bill is going to be sent to Iraqis, and taken
out of future oil sales.
Nothing wrong with this in principle - the oil has been stolen from the
Iraqi people by a psychotic dictator for the last 25 years, and there is not
yet a legitimate government in Iraq. The US is going to set up an interim
administration - like the proud guardian of a orphan with a rich estate, which
they can use at their discretion to provide for their charge until they come of
There are going to massive rebuilding contracts, administered by the US,
and the one contract given so far is to (you guessed it) a US company. And the
taxes from any profits go to (yup) the US government. Further, your ABC reports that
The US House of Representatives passed a supplementary budget amendment
excluding Russia, France, Germany and Syria from taking part in US-funded
reconstruction bids in Iraq.
Not a very utilitarian way to appropriate other people's money, but a very
Anxious to do the right thing, Australian officials, have raised questions
about the legitimacy of automatically giving the contracts to US companies.
But they haven't called for open tenders to all and sundry, with the contracts
going to the best-and-cheapest. They have simply demanded a slice of the action
too. Apparently they don't want to compete fairly on an open market - they want
a 'fair' share of the contracts for rebuilding Iraq!
Apparently the notion that spending other people's money has obligations
(like getting the best value for that money) hasn't occurred to the US
government in the rush to Baghdad. Buying new Iraqi infrastructure on
market would be more equitable than the hand-in-pocket solution. Giving a
contract to a Frog would
stick in the throat of any reasonable person, but if they are the best bidder,
then does it not become an obligation?
Sadly, it seems that all of Iraq's oil is not enough to lubricate the free