There's the top 1% of wealthy Americans (bankers, oil tycoons, hedge fund managers) and there's the top 0.01% of wealthy Americans: the military contractor CEOs.
If you've been following the War Costs campaign, you already know that these corporations are bad bosses, bad job creators and bad stewards of taxpayer dollars. What you may not know is that the huge amount of money these companies' CEOs make off of war and your tax dollars places them squarely at the top of the gang of corrupt superrich choking our democracy. These CEOs want you to believe the massive war budget is about security -- it's not. The lobbying they're doing to keep the war budget intact at the expense of the social safety net is purely about their greed.
In many areas, including yearly CEO salary and in dollars spent corrupting Congress, these companies are far greater offenders than even the big banks like JP Morgan Chase or Bank of America.
Egregious Military Contractor CEO pay
The top 0.01% of earners make at least $9.14 million per year, a rarefied strata of income that includes defense company CEOs and Wall Street bank chieftains alike. But a deeper dive demonstrates how defense companies outpace the big banks' knack for enriching themselves at the expense of everyone else.
Military Contractor CEO Pay in 2010
Just to put that in context, consider how these annual payoffs compare to the people we're used to thinking of as poster children for the top 1 percent:
Financial Sector CEO Pay in 2010
Considering how they stack up to financial sector heads, war industry CEOs aren't just members of the 1%; they're the super-elite among them, the one-hundredth of a percent.
Disgusted by the overwhelming corporate influence in Congress? Look no further than the big military contractor companies, whose flagship companies spend enough on lobbying to dwarf even financial sector titans.
War Industry Lobbying Expenditures for 2010
Again, just to provide some context, here are the same lobbying totals for some of the most recognized names in the financial sector.
Financial Sector Lobbying in 2010
The war industry gets away with blowing our money on job-killing spending because it can bend Congress to its whim. In the process, the industry is like a vacuum sucking up brain power and engineering resources that could and would establish and grow entirely new wholesome industries. It's no surprise that Americans confront a 9.1% unemployment rate and an under-employment rate flirting with 20 percent this year.
Want to know where all the money went that could be putting people back to work or keeping U.S. manufacturing industries competitive? The war industry CEOs dumped lobbying cash on Congress and diverted all that wealth to their private bank accounts.
Striking a blow for democracy
The war contractors' iron grip on the wealth and politics of our country has caught the attention of our friends at Occupy Wall Street, who are targeting war profiteers in its draft list of demands with a call to bring home "all military personnel at all non-essential bases" and to end the "Military Industrial Complex's goal of perpetual war for profit."
We're allies of the Occupy movement, which swells from the 99%'s disgust and dysfunction with our system. A democracy for and of the people that favors the 0.01% at the expense of the 99.99% of us is no democracy at all.
We here at Brave New Foundation and the War Costs campaign have been inspired by the incredible work of the Occupy movement, so we created our latest video to help push this critical piece of their message: war for profit has to end. We're asking viewers to share our video with their local Occupy groups and organize a guerrilla screening at an Occupy protest in your city.
The Occupy protests have a lot to teach us, and the leaderless movement is at minimum an indictment of our political system. They've stopped whispering, and we've all started shouting.
Occupy your city and show this video to your community.
Follow Robert Greenwald on Twitter: www.twitter.com/robertgreenwald