The United States is the wealthiest country in the world. Yet, social needs programs such as food stamps, legal services and housing assistance for the poor represent only four percent of the federal budget, while military expenditures make up over one half–already $300 billion in 1998 alone.
Today, with the privatization of social services by state and municipal governments, weapons manufacturers are also profiting from running these programs. Lockheed Martin, best known for building menacing weapons systems and for receiving billions of dollars in corporate welfare, has been awarded contracts to run welfare-to-work programs in Washington, DC, California and Florida.
Many welfare advocates have fought Lockheed’s involvement in these workfare programs, saying that the company’s incentive to make a profit makes it more likely that it will expedite welfare recipients into low-paying jobs without the necessary training for the long-term. Peace activists have also fought having a weapons manufacturer involved in municipal and state programs such as parking enforcement, toll collection and child support payment.
Washington’s City Paper last week published an extensive investigative report on Lockheed’s involvement in city and state programs such as welfare to work, parking enforcement, toll collection and tracking of child support payment. It found that Lockheed has hired many former city and state employees, raising questions about how the company obtains its contracts with the public sector. In one startling revelation, the paper found that under a new contract with Washington, DC, Lockheed would install cameras in the city to catch drivers running red lights and stop signs, and would receive $32 for every $75 ticket issued.
- Elissa Silverman, Associate Editor for the City Paper, a community newspaper of Washington, DC. She wrote the investigative report “Bombs Away” about Lockheed Martin’s involvement in Washington, DC’s welfare-to-work program and parking collection program.
- Gary Schorrs, Labor Economist with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).
- Bill Hartung, with the World Policy Institute at the New School of Social Research. He wrote an article in The Nation entitled “Lockheed Martin: From Warfare to Welfare.”
- Bombs Away–Investigative report in The City Paper