Off to See the Wizard

So, one of our small office number is now off to Iraq. He’s signed out and packed up and he’ll be getting on a plane Thursday. He’ll be overseeing the construction of cell phone towers. Need I mention that people like Blaine and Yellow don’t believe he’s qualified to do this?

Hell, who cares, right? We’re bleeding our tax dollars out the ears anyway. Why not send incompetent people over there to help out so they can fuck the job up even more so we can bleed more money?

“I’ll see you guys around Christmas,” he said as he headed out the door —

and it was all I could do not to say, “Unless we see you on CNN first.”

If anyone wants to know why the war in Iraq is costing so much, I can tell you, as our company is one of the ones contracted there. Employees get paid 2.5X their base salary (tax free), plus two plane trips home a year, and free room and board, transportation, satellite phones, and internet connections (likely through Halliburton).

I actually signed up to go with the first wave of contractors last year in June. I figured “Hey, it’s our mess, we should clean it up.” And 2.5X my base salary meant I’d be pulling over 90K (tax free). I have a crapload of student loans and a credit card that’s maxed out every month. It was tempting.

Then things started to go to hell. And I realized nobody actually wanted us there. Not just the guys out blowing shit up, but the Iraqi contractors on the ground. I heard that local Iraqi firms were bidding on rebuilding work and US firms were coming in and charging 20-30X the amount the Iraqi firms were – and the US firms were getting the contracts.

What would it have cost the US if we hired out local contractors? It’s not like Iraq is a wasteland (we haven’t blown up *all* of it yet). There are cities there. Bridge builders. Telecommunications people. They *do* have cellphones there, people. And they have technicians who know how to build those things. Welcome to the 21st century. Not everybody in Iraq lives in a hide tent and hunkers over a dung fire.

So, one of ours is outta here, and I’m staying here.

But hot damn, that 90K looked good.

I understand why he went. The battle between greed and morality is ongoing.

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