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How Much Are You Making on the War Daddy? A Quick and Dirty Guide to War Profiteering in the Bush Administration - by William D. Hartung , Nation Books, 2004

Excerpt from chapter 2, "Dick Cheney and the Power of the Self-Licking Ice Cream Cone", pp. 23-25

IN THE SUMMER of 2003, Chuck Spinney, a professional gadfly and true American patriot who has spent thirty years exposing waste, fraud, and abuse while working as a program analyst at the Pentagon, retired. To mark the occasion, Bill Moyers had Spinney on his PBS program NOW with Bill Movers, to provide his distilled wisdom from thirty years of fighting the good fight, trying to rein in the military-industrial complex. One term leapt off the TV screen that evening. When Moyers asked about the skyrocketing salaries of military industry CEOs, Spinney described the concept of the "self-licking ice cream cone."

Moyers: Have you seen these figures that CEO pay at Lockheed Martin went up from $5.8 million in 2000 to $25.3 million in 2002... CEO pay went up at General Dynamics from $5.7 million in 2001 to $15.2 million in 2002. It went up at Honeywell from $12.9 million in 2000 to $45 million in 2002.... What do those figures say to you?

Spinney: Well, that's Versailles on the Potomac in action. It doesn't surprise me. The Defense Department, if you think about it, we really operate essentially according to an internal political economy. It's this closed cell that I mentioned earher. In this bubble that developed during the Cold War...

The military-industrial complex is a political economy with a big P and a little E. It's very political in nature. Economic decisions, which should prevail in a normal market system, don't prevail in the Pentagon, or in the military-industrial complex.

So what we have is a system that essentially rewards its senior players. It's a self... what we call it, we have a term for it, it's a self-licking ice cream cone. We basically take care of ourselves. And that's why we have the metaphor that it's Versailles on the Potomac. It is basically self-referencing.

The "self-licking ice cream cone" was a term that Spinney and his fellow critics of Pentagon waste had coined to describe not only the lavish pay schemes of military industry CEOs, but all the other sneaky ways in which weapons contractors, members of key congressional cornmittees, Pentagon bureaucrats, and key decision makers in the White House and the military services conspire to throw money at weapons programs that may or may not be needed to defend the country, but which certainly are needed to keep the jobs, contracts, and campaign contributions flowing in key states and districts in what has become a virtual political protection racket. The political engineering that goes into weapons contracting, and the movement of top management personnel back and forth between positions in government and industry as part of the infamous "revolving door" syndrome, has created a situation in which high military budgets, exaggerated or distorted estimates of foreign threats, and overpriced, under-performing weapons systems have become the rule rather than the exception.

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