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Thursday, March 24, 2005 04:52 pm

common sense 3-24-05

art1908

Are you smart enough to be a banker with the Export-Import Bank of the United States? Here’s a test: Would you loan $5 billion of U.S. taxpayers’ money to a British-owned company so that it can make a profit by selling U.S. nuclear technology to China, which in turn is likely to copy that technology and become a world leader in manufacturing it?

If that sounds like a good use of U.S. tax funds to you, then you’ve got a bright future at the export-import bank, my friend. Indeed, this is an actual loan approved by the geniuses at this bank — a bank that is supposed to help U.S. companies increase their exports, ostensibly to create U.S. jobs. You can argue, as I have, that few good jobs ever are created and that the bank is little more than a corporate-welfare fund, financing projects that giant corporations can and should finance themselves — but (excuse my chauvinism here) at least such subsidies should go to American corporations.

This one appears to do that, for the $5 billion loan technically would go to Westinghouse Electric to build four huge nuclear reactors in China. However, this nuclear division of Westinghouse was bought in 1998 by BNFL, owned by the British government. So our tax dollars are being used to protect the investment of Brits, and any profits from the deal go to them.

But, wait, says the bank — this is about U.S. jobs, for some of the components of these reactors will be made in the good ol’ U.S. of A. They claim that 5,000 American jobs are involved. OK, time for another test: Five billion dollars divided by 5,000 jobs is what? That’s a million dollars per job!

If this deal makes sense to you, rush your résumé to the export-import bank today.

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