- Cullman, Alabama


January 1, 2013

COMMENTARY: Excess-Profits Tax on Defense Contractors During Wartime Is Long Overdue

WASHINGTON — No one can safely predict what will happen in 2013, but here are a few things I would like to see occur when it comes to national security.

My most radical idea — and it should have been done 10 years ago — is for an excess-profits tax on defense contractors while we have troops fighting overseas. As I have often noted, Afghanistan and Iraq are the first U.S. wars in which taxes were not raised to pay for the fighting. Instead, the cost has been put on a credit card.

In World Wars I and II and the Korean War, Congress approved new taxes, including one directed at defense contractors. In introducing his request in 1940 for a "steeply graduated excess-profits tax," President Franklin D. Roosevelt said the government should make sure that "a few do not gain from the sacrifices of many."

Since 2002, profits of the five largest U.S.-based defense contractors have "increased by a whopping 450 percent," said Lawrence Korb, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.

Profits of the five rose from $2.4 billion in 2002, adjusted for inflation, to $13.4 billion in 2011, according to an August study co-written by Korb, a former assistant secretary of defense for manpower during 1981-85 and an expert on Pentagon spending.

"This success applied both to companies with large civilian sections of their businesses and to those almost wholly dependent on defense funding," Korb wrote. He noted that defense profits faltered at the beginning of the recession but "rapidly recovered, rising over 40 percent between 2008 and 2011 and nearly returning to their 2007 peak."

"In short, the largest defense contractors have prospered to a degree that would have looked very unlikely just eleven or twelve years ago," he said.

General Dynamics was one of the companies that grew during this period. Its earnings went from $5.08 a share in 2001 to $6.87 in 2011, while its stock price rose from $38 a share in September 2002 to $66 in September 2012. GD stockholders also benefitted from increased quarterly dividends, which rose from 14 cents a share in 2001 to 51 cents a share in 2012.

Text Only
  • COMMENTARY: A break from the campaign rhetoric

    The collective sigh of relief felt throughout Cullman Wednesday morning signaled the end of another primary political season the previous night. As Wednesday’s Times headline told us, it was a clean sweep.

    July 21, 2014

  • Harris Coleman COMMENTARY: Billy Coleman, a true statesman

    King Solomon said, “Pride will ruin people, but those who are humble will be honored.” He also said, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Billy Coleman, the past elected superintendent of Cullman County Schools, is the living example of these wise statements of truth.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • COMMENTARY: Twisty road back to Cullman

    The young journalist who was somewhat listening to the elder newspaperman on the other side of the desk didn’t have a clue.

    July 19, 2014

  • Commentary: Why your Facebook friends are so gullible

    These stories aren't real. They're the work of the New Yorker's not-particularly-funny online satirist Andy Borowitz, but many people, not just your gullible Facebook friends, invariably believe them. Sometimes the official state news agencies of global superpowers believe them.

    March 19, 2014

  • OPINION: Who belongs in the delivery room?

    Should a father be allowed in the delivery room for the birth of his child, over the mother's objections? A New Jersey judge said no last November, in a ruling that was released in writing earlier this week.

    March 13, 2014

  • SLATE COMMENTARY: Should Detroit be allowed to issue its own visas to immigrants?

    Under the plan, immigrants coming to the U.S. under visas aimed at those with "advanced degrees or exceptional abilities in science, business or the arts" would be "required to live and work in Detroit, a city that has fallen to 700,000 residents from 1.8 million in the 1950s."

    January 29, 2014

  • COMMENTARY: Rules for babies in restaurants

    "Maybe Don't Bring Your Baby to a 3-Star Restaurant," Jezebel suggests, in response to a kerfuffle over a Chicago couple bringing their 8-month-old to the ultraexclusive restaurant Alinea because their babysitter canceled.

    January 17, 2014

  • WORKOUT-WEAR2.jpg COMMENTARY: Workout Wear Friday? No sweat, boss!

    People in fitness gear are more likely to exercise — or at least to think about it. So let's get everyone in comfortable, moisture-wicking outfits once a week to demonstrate our commitment to physical activity.

    January 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • The Undead and the Unborn

    In this season of ghosts and ghouls, we seem to respect the undead more than the unborn. How unfortunate. Witness the popularity of television programs featuring blood sucking vampires and walking corpses, while in Texas, a new provision making it difficult for women to get an abortion is immensely unpopular. How unbelievable.

    November 28, 2013

  • Google Is Google wrecking our memory?

    Is the Internet ruining our ability to remember facts? If you've ever lunged for your smartphone during a bar argument, then you've no doubt felt the nagging fear that your in-brain memory is slowly draining away.

    September 27, 2013 1 Photo