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Doing It for Country? No, for Cash

John Young

What do Becky Hammon, Dick Cheney and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge have in common?

Not a lot, except for the bottom line.

Money. As in "doing it for the . . ."

Problem is, Hammon is the only one getting heat for her motivation. Then again, at least she's honest about hers.

Hammon, a guard in the WNBA for the San Antonio Silver Stars and a native of South Dakota, will play for the Russian women's basketball team in the Olympics.

When it appeared she wouldn't get a chance to be on the U.S. team, Hammon jumped at an offer to get the necessary papers and wrap her arms around a four-year, $2 million contract with a Russian pro team and a chance to be in Beijing with the dreaded Ruskies.

Hammon says her principal motivation is to play in the Olympics.

Then again, she points out that basketball is how she makes her living.

Anyway, she told one interviewer, "This is basketball. It isn't the Cold War."

Nope. It's amazing what outrages people. We have outrages that affect millions of lives and whole ecosystems. But a young lady dons an alien jersey and we give her the third degree.

Where was the outrage in 2003?

That was the year American Bert Sacks was fined $10,000 for helping relief organizations get vaccines to Iraqi children, this in apparent violation of U.S. sanctions on Iraq. At the same time subsidiaries of Halliburton were doing big business with Iraq.

Halliburton is where Dick Cheney comes in.

When he was its CEO, long after the 1990 Iraq Sanctions Act for which Sacks was prosecuted, Halliburton subsidiaries Dresser Rand and Ingersoll-Dresser sold $73 million worth of oil equipment and services to Iraq.

Why no denunciation, no prosecution? Because what humanitarian Bert Sacks was doing wasn't the American way. It involved no profit.


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That brings us to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

What was I saying? Oh, yes: It's all about money.

Hear the drill-at-all-cost chorus and it will tell you that exploration in ANWR is about "energy security," or "energy independence."

No. Like an American girl playing in Russia or Dick Cheney doing business with Saddam Hussein, it's about money.

Not a drop of the oil that would be harvested in ANWR is "ours.

" It's the world's. It's as much the dreaded Ruskies' as yours or mine. That's the definition of a global market.

Any free-market conservative, say, Dick Cheney, ought to be able to explain it to you. ANWR oil would go in the same collective vat as any other oil.

Proponents of drilling in ANWR point out Alaskans' general support thereof. Well, it's not about supplying oil for Alaskans. It's about jobs, and profits.

It's true that oil from ANWR to some degree would relieve supply pressures, which theoretically could ease prices.

But if consumption rates simply keep pace with supply, the new oil would be less than a drop in the global bucket, never to be felt.

We've seen repeatedly, and we're seeing now, that reducing demand brings down oil prices. At the same time, energy conservation stretches the usefulness of reserves we know to be finite.

But those conservation measures don't equate profit for the Exxons and Halliburtons and GMs and Chryslers, forces accustomed to a world run by their metrics.

Once again: It's all about the money.

So let's jump all over Becky Hammon for going for the gold in someone else's colors. Country aside, all she's doing is what has gotten others so far ahead in the game.

John Young's column appears Thursday and Sunday.

Copyright 2008 Waco Tribune-Herald

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