By Harry C. Alford
P.T. Barnum once said that there is a "sucker born every 5 minutes". Well, the famous hustler would have been proud of the Wall St. lobbyists and Treasury Secretary Paulson as they shook down over 300 million suckers - the American taxpayers.
Not only did they get the $700 billion of quick money, but the opportunistic Congress decided to take the opportunity to pull out their wish list and add 16 earmarks to the Bailout for an additional $140 billion dollars. That's right, the Bailout or should we say Rip Off totals $840 billion.
That is $2300 for every man, woman and child living in this nation. That equates to a family of four now increasing their debt by $9,200. Congress could have been more productive just passing that money out to the citizens of America and letting Wall St. pay for its own sins. Even "anti-earmark Sen. John McCain" went along with all of this pork. The lobby is too strong and the perks for the cooperating legislators is too sweet. Our Congress was bought and sold.
Now, they have the money and the world is still in the same predicament. The economy is in the tank as much now as it was before the giveaway. They played the stock market to scare and fake out Congress. After the Bailout was passed many assumed the market would increase. Silly folks - the stock market dropped over 400 points from a plus 250 to a minus 156. We are still in the fix but only about $1 trillion deeper in debt.
They have the money and now they must steal all of the big contracts that will come as a result of the supreme hustle. They will do this through No Bid Contracts. This form of deception was created in the early days of Iraq and perfected during the Hurricane Katrina recovery.
No Bids and severely inflated dollar amounts for work they will find someone else to do at predatory rates. This is done by declaring an emergency and waiving contracting law - Federal Acquisition Regulation, the FAR, thus eliminating affirmative action and minority participation requirements.
The Procurement Director for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) declared a waiver after Katrina for 90 days.
Ninety days was all they needed to set all the inflated contracts for the political favorites all of whom were white. Corruption was rampant and even the OMB Director eventually went to jail for favors he did for the infamous Jack Abramoff who is also currently in jail.
Section 107 of the Bailout allows for this: "For purposes of this Act, the Secretary may waive specific provisions of the Federal Acquisition Regulation upon a determination that urgent and compelling circumstances make compliance with such provisions contrary to the public interest". Public interest hell - it is special interest such as good old white boys. It fakes out the Congressional Black Caucus and others by further stating: "In any solicitation or contract where the Secretary has, pursuant to subsection (a), waived any provision of the Federal Acquisition Regulation pertaining to minority contracting, the Secretary shall develop and implement standards and procedures to ensure, to the maximum extent practicable, the inclusion and utilization of minorities".
If you believe this, then I have a bridge in Florida to sell you. In the end, like Katrina and Iraq, there will be some fronting going on and some fake contracts but no true Black business participation.
They will find a few Alaska Native Corporations who will sign contracts as minorities but then flip all of it to white firms. They do this in corrupt ways now and get caught from time to time. Only this time, it will be perfectly free of prosecution because the law is waived!
The cadre of Black firms in the housing and financial business that former Secretary of HUD Alphonso Jackson developed will be totally ignored. Normally, their contracts would be enlarged to include the new volume. With the above waiver they can be totally ignored and they certainly will.
If Senator Obama is elected President we may have a chance at the back end of this to break off some "bones". However, these guys have well over 90 days (like Katrina) to set all the traps and bring in the fat contracts for their chosen few. A contract will be for "4X dollars". The contractor will then go to the marketplace and find someone to do it for "2X dollars" and that person will find someone to do it for "X dollars" which is the true value of the work.
The culprits will pocket the excess. When you deal with wholesale corruption like that via a "license to cheat and steal" Black folk need not apply. This isn't true federal procurement it is corruption at its worse replete with pure racist vile. The American taxpayer is the major victim and Black business will be "road kill".
Harry Alford is the co-founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, Inc. Website: www.nationalbcc.org.
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