Mundane product, juicy returns

Information Clearinghouse gets a h/t for this article in LA Times — – May 9, 2008:

In 1961, Dwight D. Eisenhower, in his famous farewell address as president, warned of the “acquisition of unwarranted influence” by what he called the “military-industrial complex” in the United States. Today, however, the “large arms industry” of Eisenhower’s day is only part of a complex equation. Civilian firms such as PepsiCo and IBM form the backbone of what more accurately can be described as a “military-corporate complex.” These businesses allow the Pentagon to function, to make war and to carry out foreign occupations.

For example, in 2006 (the last year for which official figures are available), PepsiCo and IBM ranked among the Pentagon’s top 100 contractors, taking in $286,696,943 and $291,825,309, respectively. This was no aberration. The previous year, they received $233,053,993 and $382,408,117 each, according to Department of Defense documents. In fact, both companies have been defense contractors every year since at least 2000. And there isn’t anything special or odd about PepsiCo or IBM, when it comes to the Pentagon.

Almost a decade after Eisenhower’s farewell address, there were still only 22,000 prime contractors doing business with the Department of Defense. Today, that number tops 47,000. While the well-known giant arms makers — Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics — remain the largest contractors, they are dwarfed by the sheer number of fellow contractors from all imaginable economic sectors.

These stretch from coast to coast and around the globe, from entertainment giants such as Columbia TriStar and Twentieth Century Fox to auto-making titans Ford and General Motors to Big Pharma power players such as Pfizer. Even the Krispy Kreme Doughnuts chain took in almost $500,000 from the Pentagon in 2006, while Coca-Cola cleaned up with more than $100 million in taxpayer dollars.

In 2006, the Pentagon’s list of its top 100 suppliers also included such well-known civilian firms as Tyson Foods ($335,239,095), Goodrich Corp. ($344,091,017), Procter & Gamble ($362,461,808), Kraft Foods ($500,799,104), Dell ($636,343,593), ExxonMobil ($1,176,354,936), FedEx ($1,303,032,027) and General Electric ($2,327,705,161). Also on the Pentagon’s 2006 payroll were such often-ignored defense contractors as the animated mouse-house, the Walt Disney Co.; iPod-maker Apple; sunglasses purveyor Oakley; cocoa giant Nestle; ketchup producer Heinz; and chocolate bar maker Hershey.

These are, in fact, today’s “typical defense contractors.” They are the companies that regularly take in tax-funded payouts from the Pentagon for services and goods (chiefly for the more than 1.3 million active members of the armed services). Few realize the actual look and shape of the new “militarized” U.S. economy. It’s not just the classic “permanent armaments industry” — it’s civilian and it’s widespread.

Such large sums of money through privatizing supply makes for interesting connections with products of everyday civilian life. What I have not been able to find are data on the weight of soldiers just prior to going on tour to the weight of soldiers just after finishing their tours…whoppers and pepsi rations in between.