News & Politics

Corporate Welfare Gone Bad

Are you smart enough to be a banker with the U.S. government's export-import bank?
Here's a test: would you loan $5 billion of U.S. taxpayers' money to a British-owned company so that it can make a profit by selling U.S. nuclear technology to China, which in turn is likely to copy that technology and become the world leader in manufacturing it?

If that sounds like a good use of U.S. tax funds to you, then you've got a bright future at the export-import bank, my friend. Indeed, this is an actual loan approved by the geniuses at this bank – a bank that is supposed to help American companies increase their exports, ostensibly to create U.S. jobs. You can argue, as I have, that few good jobs ever are created and that the bank is little more than a corporate welfare fund, financing projects that giant corporations can and should finance themselves – but (excuse my chauvinism, here) at least such subsidies should go to American corporations.

This one appears to do that, for the $5 billion loan technically would go to Westinghouse Electric to build four huge nuclear reactors in China. However, this nuclear division of Westinghouse was bought in 1998 by BNFL, owned by the British government. So, our tax dollars are being used to protect the investment of Brits, and any profits from the deal go to them.

But, wait, says the bank, this is about U.S. jobs, for some of the components of these reactors will be made in the good ol' USofA. They claim that 5,000 American jobs are involved. OK, time for another test. Five billion dollars divided by 5,000 jobs is what? That's a million dollars per job!

Actually, this deal will cost us jobs, for the Chinese government says it fully intends to take over the manufacture of the American components BNFL is selling to them. If this makes sense to you, rush your resume to the export-import bank today.

Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Let's Stop Beating Around the Bush, from Viking Press. For more information, visit
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