Who is really in charge of national security?

Taking a cue from Ronald Reagan’s reign, George W. is looking into ways to privatize the air traffic controllers. Ronald Reagan started his anti-labor presidency by busting the air traffic controllers’ union, PATCO.

Boy George apparently doesn’t like the way these folks handled, without incident, the unbelievable air traffic mess that happened on Sept. 11. He wants to find a cheaper outfit.

Privatization has been around a while. Just scanning social services and programs like education, health care and prisons, one can see how extensive privatization is. It seems to be a permanent feature of this capitalist system.

Yet the Bush administration is bringing privatization to a new “art” form. From Enron dictating a national energy policy to the merging of the presidency with the “military-industrial complex,” Boy George and gang have never met a monopoly corporation they didn’t like (except maybe some of those dot-coms and software start-ups).

But what scares me now is the corporations in charge of “national security.” True, they have been in charge for a while; after all it was President Eisenhower who warned against the military-industrial complex, but in this present day unending “war on terrorism,” it deserves a new look.

Three major corporations, all of which have an interest in perpetrating military spending and the arms trade, are in charge of something called “Bechtel Nevada.” According to the website, Bechtel Nevada is made up of three corporations: Bechtel, Johnson Controls Inc. and Lockheed Martin. They get contracts from Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, NASA, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Air Force, Army and Navy.

The site map offers an outline of program “activities.” However, when you click on the links you find those pages have been removed. So you have to let your imagination run wild when you read that these corporations run “Stockpile Stewardship activities” like underground and above-ground experiments, or the “Gas Gun.” And “National Security Response activities,” like on counter-terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

Is it just me or are you a little weirded out by the fact that huge corporations who have a stake in perpetrating military build-up and an arms trade are offering “protective counter measures” for weapons of mass destruction? Isn’t this like the fox watching the hen house?

And aren’t there some basic constitutional issues involved in this as well? If you are a government official you are supposed to be bound by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

But if you are a monopoly corporation, making decisions in your economic self-interest, at the expense of many others, to whom are you bound? The Constitution or stockholders?

Now some of you are saying right now – but, of course, this is why we need to change the system, because it is in the nature of capitalism that this vicious circle begins, continues, spirals and escalates out of control.

And you all would be right. But for better or worse there are a lot of people who aren’t yet convinced of revolutionary action and ideas.

So what to do in the meantime?

I think we should all read Dr. Seuss. Yes, that’s right, whenever contemplating the state of the world and what to do about it, you should go to the source of much knowledge: Dr. Seuss. And, no, I’m not talking about The Cat in the Hat or Hop on Pop.

The one I recommend to figure out this dilemma is The Butter Battle Book, which was originally written about the arms race during the Cold War, but has even more import today.

According to Seuss, you will always need a Big Boy Boomeroo to combat the Utterly Sputter, and the “Boys in the Backroom” will make sure everyone has a Big Boy Boomeroo. So…

“Who’s going to drop it? Will you…? Or will he…?”

“Be patient,” said Grandpa. “We’ll see. We will see…”

Let’s not be patient. This corporate-rule thing is ruining our planet. You, your neighbor, your co-worker, your cousin can all do a better job of running things and solving problems. Much better than these “Boys in the Backroom.”

The author can be reached at talbano@pww.org