Empire of Illusion ~ Chris Hedges
The United Nations' International Labor Organization estimates that some 50 million workers will lose their jobs worldwide in 2009. The collapse had already seen close to 4 million lost jobs in the United States by mid-2009. The International Monetary Fund's prediction for global economic growth in 2009 is 0.5% -- the worst since the Second World War. There were 2.3 million properties in the United States that received a default notice or were repossessed in 2008. And this number is set to rise, especially as vacant commercial real estate begins to be foreclosed. About 20,000 major global banks collapsed, were sold, or were nationalized in 2008. An estimated 62,000 U.S. companies are expected to shut down in 2009.
Meanwhile, our government is being wrecked by corporations, which now receive 40% of federal discretionary spending. More than 800,000 jobs, once handled by government employees, have been outsourced to corporations, a move that has not only further empowered our shadow/corporate government but also helped destroy federal workforce unions. Management of federal prisons, the management of regulatory and scientific reviews, the processing or denial of Freedom of Information requests, interrogating prisoners, and running the world's largest mercenary army in Iraq -- all this has become corporate. And these corporations, in a perverse arrangement, make their money directly off of the American citizen.
This devil's deal is but an expansion of the corporate welfare enjoyed by the defense industry: Halliburton in 2003 was given a no-bid and non-compete $7 billion contract to repair Iraq's oil fields as well as the power to oversee and control all of Iraq's oil production. This has now become $130 billion in contract awards to Halliburton. And flush with taxpayer dollars, what has Halliburton done? It has made sure that only thirty-six of its 143 subsidiary companies are incorporated in the United States and that 107 of its subsidiaries (or 75%) are incorporated in thirty different countries. This arrangement allows Halliburton to lower its tax liability on foreign income by establishing "controlled foreign corporations," i.e. subsidiaries, that are located inside low-tax, or no-tax, countries that are thereby used as tax havens. Thus the corporations take our money, squander it, and cleverly evade taxation "" all at our expense. And our corporately infiltrated and corporately controlled government not only funds them but protects them!