Morning Report 6/12/05Charity Begins at Home


G-8 nations forgive $40 billion of debt. Good. Now here are some unforgivable figures.

© Claire McEvoy/IRIN


Above, this starving girl in Darfur didn’t make the cut—Sudan’s debts weren’t forgiven by the G-8. Below, Jerry Bremer (left) and Commerce Secretary/Bush Pal Don Evans were all smiles in October 2003 about the new Iraqi dinar.
Defense Dept.

The rich nations are so proud of themselves. U.S. Treasury secretary John Snow called Saturday’s decision by himself and the officials of the other G-8 nations to forgive $40 billion in debt owed by some of the poorest countries “an achievement of historic proportions.”

Snow even called the debt “morally wrong.”

Well, good for him and good for some of the have-nots. But hold off on the ticker-tape parade. There are billions of ways of putting the G-8 nations’ “generosity” in perspective.

Bluntly put, $40 billion is not much of a sacrifice for the world’s haves, considering the corporate welfare and greed that continue unabated. Here are some other figures for perspective:

$15.9 billion: Year-end Wall Street bonuses handed out in 2004.

$940 billion: estimated windfall for financial companies in fees generated by Bush’s privatization of Social Security.

$5.8 billion: estimated monthly cost to taxpayers of the war in Iraq.

$9 billion: estimated oil-for-slush scandal money unaccounted for or missing under Jerry Bremer‘s Coalition Provisional Authority during post-war reconstruction in Iraq.

$40 billion: ExxonMobil’s revenues extracted from its operations in Aceh, Indonesia, during just the past decade.

$200 billion: Lockheed Martin’s deal to build the “Joint Strike Fighter.”

$30 billion: Value of the Boeing tanker-lease proposal bitterly fought by John McCain and others and now caught up in a monumental Pentagon scandal.

$1 billion: Annual cost of maintaining the huge, new U.S. embassy in Baghdad.

$146 billion: Cost of corporate tax cuts in the “middle-class” tax-cut package signed into law on October 4, 2004.

$4 billion: Corporate-welfare export subsidies to U.S. firms that even the WTO bitterly complains about.

$16 billion: Amount borrowed by California, under GOP governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, to pay its bills this year.

$11 billion: Halliburton’s Iraq revenues—so far.

$417 billion: U.S. Department of Defense budget for one year (not counting the add-ons) announced at signing ceremony on August 5, 2004, during which George W. Bush told the crowd of generals, officials, and defense contractors:

Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.