New analysis from our Sarah Anderson and Brian Wakamo finds the CEOs at just three major war contractors — Fluor, Raytheon, and Boeing — have collected $236 million over the last four years alone.
The unraveling of America’s longest-ever overseas war has, predictably enough, brought on a flurry of navel-gazing as well as some more thoughtful reflections about lessons learned.

Here at, we’ve been reflecting on the war profiteers who have been enriching themselves over the last 20 bloody years. We don’t know yet exactly how much corporate execs have pocketed off the death and destruction in Afghanistan, but a new analysis from our Sarah Anderson and Brian Wakamo finds the CEOs at just three major war contractors — Fluor, Raytheon, and Boeing — have collected $236 million the last four years alone.

Tragedies like the Afghan conflict, numbers like these suggest, will continue to be inevitable until we squeeze the personal profit out of war.

Enjoy your final days of summer. We’ll be taking a little break this week. Watch for us in your email inbox Monday after next.

Chuck Collins and Rebekah Entralgo,
for the Institute for Policy Studies team
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California Gig Workers Win Big Against Uber, Lyft
Lyft driver Nicole Moore spent a lot of time on the bullhorn in 2020, fighting back against a $200 million campaign to overturn a state labor law protecting gig workers. That campaign, bankrolled by Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash, did prevail via ballot initiative, but Moore and other Rideshare Drivers United activists and allies refused to give up. Last Friday, their perseverance paid off when a California Superior Court judge ruled that the corporate-backed Prop 22 initiative violated the state constitution. In an exclusive, Bama Athreya has interviewed Moore and other gig worker advocates to get their reactions to the victory. The court ruling does represent a major step forward, but Moore is cautioning that the fight for full labor rights for app-based workers must continue: “The technology is coming to every industry, and it’s going to be all our fight.”
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A Billionaire Who Insists He’s Legally Incompetent
Last October federal prosecutors brought the “biggest U.S. tax fraud case ever filed” against the billionaire Robert Brockman. The software king, prosecutors charged, had illegally sidestepped taxes on $2 billion in income. Brockman has since pleaded “not guilty,” but he doesn’t seem too eager to have his day in court. The 80-year-old is claiming his dementia is preventing an adequate defense. A federal judge, taking that claim seriously, had three doctors — all defense-approved — examine Brockman. The doctors found the billionaire “competent” enough to defend himself. Now the defense is claiming the three doctors, “under the guise of medical examinations,” acted as government agents and used their exams to gather info to bolster the prosecution. Brockman’s lawyers want the court to redo the competency exams with three “genuine neutral experts.” What figures to be a “genuine” court competency hearing will take place next month.
#SealTheDeal To Build an Equitable Society
The House of Representatives returns to Washington today — for just 24 hours — to vote on a $3.5 trillion budget that Senate Budget Chair Bernie Sanders describes as “the most consequential piece of legislation for working people, the elderly, the children, the sick, and the poor since FDR and the New Deal of the 1930s.” The budget makes historic investments in clean energy, tuition-free community college, affordable housing, elder care, and childcare — all paid for by tax increases on the wealthy. Last week, hundreds of advocates across the country held protests at the district offices of their members of Congress to demand that they fight for every dollar in the $3.5 trillion recovery package and #SealTheDeal. More from managing editor, Rebekah Entralgo.
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America’s Merchants of Death Then — and Now
The vivid 1930s-era tag “merchants of death” has long since disappeared from our American political lexicon. But our contemporary moguls are continuing to get rich off the preparations that make wars more likely and corpses more plentiful. America’s longest war — the war in Afghanistan — offers but the latest example. Maybe we should have listened to the Senate select committee that 85 years ago found America’s corporate giants igniting and exacerbating arms races by constantly striving to “scare nations into a continued frantic expenditure for the latest improvements in devices of warfare.” co-editor Sam Pizzigati has more.
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This week on 

Chuck Collins and Helen Flannery, Warehousing Wealth in Donor-Advised Funds. New analysis finds more than one billion dollars in Donor-Advised Funds grants went to other commercial DAFs in 2019.

Elsewhere on the Web

Indigo Olivier, American CEOs make 351 times more than workers. In 1965 it was 15 to one, Guardian. The average U.S. CEO makes in just one year nearly nine times what the average person will earn over a lifetime.

David Macdonald and Alicia Massie, Boundless Bonuses: Skyrocketing Canadian executive pay during the 2020 pandemic, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Amid tragedy, unconscionable corporate windfalls.

Phillip Inman, Chinese president vows to ‘adjust excessive incomes’ of super rich, Guardian. Xi Jinping, under pressure to answer critics who call him soft on excessive pay, appears ready to expand wealth taxes and raise income tax rates to achieve an “olive-shaped” income distribution that reduces the number of low-income and high-income groups.

Steve Randy Waldman, We’re already paying for it, Interfluidity. The U.S. public is bearing the burden of a huge plutocracy tax.

Christopher Marquis, CEO Compensation Is Out of Control: How Emmanuel Faber Was Changing the Game in Governance and Employee Equity, Forbes. Some wisdom from a French CEO ousted for not making rich people ever richer.

Katharine Seelye, Michael Thomas, Writer and Bête Noire of the Moneyed Class, Dies at 85, New York Times. The early career of this Wall Street financier informed his financial thrillers that relentlessly savaged the rich and powerful.

Alexia Fernández Campbell, CEOs got bonuses while workers struggled during the pandemic, Center for Public Integrity. Businesses that rely on low-wage, part-time workers last year saw the largest pay disparities.

John Nichols, Ron Johnson Does the Bidding of the Ultra-Rich, Nation. A U.S. senator’s “principled” stand for tax reform may enrich two of his campaign donors by half a billion dollars.

Peter Boyle, More billionaires or human survival? Green Left. If the $5.5 billion the world’s richest man spent so he could enjoy “roughly four minutes of weightlessness in suborbital space” doesn’t outrage you, how about the fact that the same amount of money could secure vaccines for 2 billion people?
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