The Nossiter Net
The net that shall enmesh them all
Edited, Written, and Published by Josh Nossiter
The Morning Mendacity
Thursday, March 24th, 2005
The Nossiter Net is cast  to snare some of  the riper rascalities of the day.  Comments?  editor@nossiter.net
The New York Times reports that Pentagon auditors call Halliburtonís charge of $27 million for fuel that cost the company $82,000 ďillogical.Ē*

As if we needed more evidence that auditors are mere bean counters.  Unimaginative drones, they lack the vision, imagination, and talent essential in the world of modern business.  Halliburtonís 32,827% mark-up, while perhaps larger than customary, is perfectly justifiable.  The $26,918,000 difference between what Halliburton paid for Kuwaiti oil, and the price the company charged the military in Iraq, is accounted for entirely by the value added.  We donít raise an eyebrow when Chateau Petrus puts its label on a few cents worth of glass bottle and grape juice, sticks it in a cellar for a few years, and sells it for a $1,000.  How then can we begrudge Halliburton its profit for a product on which the company lavished so much care?

This fuel was carefully hand-selected by Halliburton experts.  Teams of oil men gauged the Kuwaiti offerings for color, body, purity, and nose.  Aged to perfection in custom-built steel barrels, it was transported across the Kuwaiti-Iraqi border with the utmost care by Halliburtonís trained truckers.  Their job was complicated by insurgent snipers and bombers, who, like vintage Bordeaux-maddened oenophiles, threatened their progress every inch of the way.   Safely in Iraq, the Kuwaiti oil was carefully segregated from the inferior domestic product, then distributed to only the most deserving army and marine units.  All told, Halliburton is so far accused of over-charging the military by $108 million on its $2.5 billion fuel contract.  These so-called overcharges are a small price to pay for providing our troops with the very best.

In a further example of bean counter short-sightedness, NBC News reports that another Pentagon audit found $1.8 billion in unsubstantiated costs in Halliburtonís contract to provide food and lodging to our troops in Iraq.**   This audit is especially unfair.  How can you document the quality of an experience?  Motel 6 might charge $50 for a room in the same town where the Ritz-Carlton expects $500, but do we condemn the Ritz-Carlton for that?  Of course not.  You donít get fluffy bathrobes and Frette linens at Motel 6, nor are there uniformed doormen and concierges prepared to satisfy any whim.  And you certainly donít expect to see those items appear on your Ritz-Carlton bill.  Do we really want U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq to rough it, Motel 6 style?  They deserve all the fluffy bathrobes, fine linens, and other amenities Halliburton lavishly charges for, the caviar and smoked salmon that the Texas company flies in daily, the grass-fed beef steaks and free-range chickens that are grilled and roasted in limitless profusion for our men and women in uniform.

U.S. taxpayers are glad to pay Halliburton top dollar for providing five star lodging, the finest cuisine, and the choicest fuels to our military in Iraq.  The exemplary patriots in charge of that great company would be the first to say that, considering what they charge, supplying anything less would be downright traitorous.

*http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/15/politics/15halliburton.html?
**http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7201320/Ē



©Joshua C. Nossiter, 2005
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