RUSH: To Clemmons, North Carolina, and Barry. Hello, sir.
CALLER: Yes. Good afternoon, Rush.
CALLER: Hi. Greetings from North Carolina, and it’s a pleasure to speak with the guru of conservatism.
RUSH: It’s a pleasure to have you with us. Thanks so much for that fine, recognizable comment.
CALLER: Well, I am a North Carolina environmentalist, and I spent a year down in New Orleans trying to solve the problems for the people down there.
RUSH: How did you do?
CALLER: Well, basically they took everything and put it into a landfill. They didn’t clean anything up; 90% of the garbage is on the ground. There are people out of houses. It’s just a mess, but nobody seems to remember that KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton, got the contract for $51 billion from the US government to do that job.
CALLER: They sat on it for a year until they got paid. It was just an unfunded mandate, the contract that they got. They had to work out of pocket the first year.
RUSH: You think this might be why Halliburton is moving to Dubai?
CALLER: Well, that’s part of it. But what they did is they brought in the Shaw Group, they brought in Bechtel, they brought in Felson Jordan and a number of management companies and then they hired local subcontractors. A lot of them were bankrupted because they didn’t get paid fairly and they didn’t get paid on time.
RUSH: The subcontractors were bankrupted?
CALLER: Yes, a lot of them. I had a group down there. We had 15 crews that ran construction projects, the demolition projects and removing debris, and we take it out to the landfill and dump it on a regular basis, and that’s what we were supposed to do. But we got paid very sparingly.
RUSH: Why did you keep doing the work?
CALLER: Well, because the work needed to be done and the people down there need better than what they’re getting.
RUSH: Well, if you show a willingness to work for little or nothing, that’s what you’ll make.
CALLER: Well, I agree with you, but when you are trying to solve problems and help people in a devastated area, everything that you can possibly do needs to be done.
RUSH: Well, were those people trying to help themselves along with you?
CALLER: Well, a lot of them were. We put a lot of local people to work.
RUSH: Who paid them?
CALLER: We did.
RUSH: Who’s “we”?
CALLER: My company did.
RUSH: Were you being reimbursed by the feds?
CALLER: We were reimbursed at so much a cubic yard. We just barely broke even on the deal. But that’s not why I called. KBR and Halliburton, you know, Halliburton’s moving their primary business entity overseas.
RUSH: To Dubai, that’s right.
CALLER: To Dubai. You know, that’s a nice thing for them to do. The majority of the stock that’s in Halliburton is owned by politicians. The largest single shareholder is Lady Bird Johnson. It’s a matter of record.
RUSH: A Democrat.
RUSH: But she’s not a politician.
CALLER: No, she’s not a politician, but a lot of senators, congressmen, judges, governors and people have retirement plans had Halliburton or KBR stock backing their retirement plan.
RUSH: So what? A lot of people with their 401(k)s and their Keogh plans and whatever their portfolio have it. You invest in successful companies.
CALLER: It’s smart business. I understand that.
RUSH: Well, then why do you indict Halliburton over that?
CALLER: I’m not. I’m saying that they’re moving out of the country now so they aren’t going to have to pay additional monies and they could generate more revenues for the people that hold that stock. I think that’s a good thing. The problem is that we’ve lost the majority of manufacturing in this country over the years. We’ve lost electronics; we’ve lost textile; we’ve lost durable goods; we’ve lost home equipment. So many things have gone overseas, and they’re not going to come back. What are we supposed to do for jobs over the next 20 or 30 or 40 years?
RUSH: Uh, I’m really surprised. You sound like a smart guy.
CALLER: I am.
RUSH: Well, I don’t know why you’re so doom and gloom and defeatist here. Unemployment is the lowest it’s been historically in I don’t know how long, at 4.5%. The sectors in this country that are growing… Economics is economics. We’ve got a global economy. If a Singer Sewing Machine can be made cheaper in Singapore than it can be made here, guess where it’s going to be made?
CALLER: It’s going to be made in Singapore. I don’t have a problem with that at all.
RUSH: Our economy is constantly in flux, and it’s constantly evolving, and for all of these manufacturing jobs lost, it’s not as many as people think. We still have a pretty huge manufacturing sector here, but there’s a little myth attached to all this and it’s attached to people that don’t like NAFTA. Some manufacturing jobs have gone, too, no question, but we’re on the tail’s end of the auto business as well. We’re losing out to the Japanese, but there’s a principal reason there, and that is it’s a noncompetitive playing field because they don’t have to load up their cars with $1700 additional price to cover the health care of their employees.
CALLER: I agree that the laws that our nation has passed have handcuffed businesses here and made us unable to compete on a level playing field. I disagree with that entirely.
RUSH: Well, I don’t know what we disagree about, other than you think it’s bad Halliburton’s moving and I think it makes sense, given what their business is.
CALLER: No, I think it’s good that Halliburton’s moving.
RUSH: Well, then what are we at odds over here?
CALLER: We’re not at odds over anything. What I’m suggesting is that possibly the vacuum that’s being created, we have a lot of illegals coming across the border, and they’re going to take the jobs that are available. But we need to start looking at how to revitalize our economy. We need to start looking at what we can do with what we have here to put people back to work at decent paying jobs.
RUSH: You know, I feel like I’m talking to John Edwards.
RUSH: No, I do. We have an economy that, on balance, is roaring. It is reducing the deficit. Tax revenues are up because there are more people working. Tax cuts have created more jobs than we’ve had in this country before. The job creation in the last two to three years is astounding. There’s some sectors where wages are falling behind, but that happens virtually in every evolution of every economy. The great thing about this country is that we all have the ability to create our own job if we want. We all have the ability to be entrepreneurs. I was telling this at a dinner party I had last night with people. One of the most disappointing calls I received on this program and I ever remember receiving, was from a 30-year-old man in Detroit who had just been laid off. He’d been bought out, got in a buyout from one of the auto companies and he thought his life was over at age thirty because —
CALLER: My goodness.
RUSH: — he didn’t have a job with the line assembly anymore. I’m thinking, this is an American! At age 30, he hasn’t even hit his prime. There’s so much opportunity. There’s so many things that people can do if they have the passion and desire for it. This country is a waiting, golden opportunity for anybody who wants to take a stab at it.
RUSH: And for all of the misery that people want to claim and talk about in this country, I can point out far more happiness and joy and success than there is misery.
CALLER: Well, I agree with you a hundred percent. I’d like to see us take the garbage that we have in this country and turn it into building products and turn it into useful products rather than just burying it in the ground.
RUSH: What do you mean like landfills?
RUSH: Landfills are great. They are some of the most beautiful golf courses in the world just built in New York on landfills.
CALLER: Well, of course. What else can they do with them?
RUSH: Well, you build housing developments, any number of things. What are they doing with them in New Orleans?
CALLER: No, they’re just putting them in the ground, and if you know anything about New Orleans, when you bury something in the ground, it migrates to the ocean, so they’re just making a bigger mess. The coral is dying off in the Caribbean because of that. We’re not talking about global warming here. It’s a solar event, it’s not a global event. The ice caps are Mars are melting at the same rate as the ice caps here on earth. People are saying that it’s a global warming thing and man causes it, and that’s absolutely false.
RUSH: This conversation has been sort of strange because I was expecting you and me to be at odds, but we’re not. What’s the one thing that is upsetting you here?
CALLER: Well, what’s upsetting me —
RUSH: It’s KBR not paying people down in New Orleans and moving to Dubai, right?
CALLER: Well, I think it’s that they’ve taken a contract from the federal government, using our tax dollars, and the day after they got paid, which was June 5th. On June 6th, every KBR and Halliburton company moved out of New Orleans and left. They took the profits and went home.
RUSH: Now, Halliburton has spun KBR off or is in the process of it.
RUSH: I don’t know if that’s a factor in this, but they’re getting rid of Kellogg Brown & Root, and they may already have done so. KBR was a losing proposition for their bottom line. The food service contract for Afghanistan and Iraq, that may have something to do with this. I don’t know. I’m just going to accept that you’re right on this because this is the first I’ve heard that KBR ran out on its commitments. That’s news to me. I’m going to check it out, just because I want to know, not that I doubt you. I must take a break, though, because of the constraints of our busy broadcast format and time-out. Barry, thanks for the call. I appreciate it. I enjoyed the conversation. This may be the most convivial, with-as-little-rancor-as-possible conversation with a confessed liberal that we’ve ever had here. But, Barry, you’re not as lib as you think.