The Bush Budget

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Who's Doing What to Whom?

According to a number of news analysts, the Bush budget most clearly resembles the budgets proposed by Ronald Reagan. The lack of logic and the skyrocketing deficit look appallingly similar. Bush has even bought into Ronnie's "Magic Star Wars" scenario; and he's not even a movie actor.

However, let's consider the possibility of a method in this madness. Reagan employed his defense budget to crash the economy of the Soviet Union. Oddly enough, it (or something) worked. If Bush is thinking along the same lines, we must ask ourselves, "who represents the USSR today?" Whose economy is Bush attempting to crash, and why?

It's pretty clear that the economy most in danger of crashing is our own. But this can't be deliberate. Why would a sitting president want to break his own country? The argument against this usually runs, "He'd never get re-elected if he did. Look at Hoover, and that wasn't even his fault." On the other hand, lots of evidence is surfacing that Bush (and Cheney, and their cronies, many of whom now hold lucrative government positions) cares much more about personal wealth than about the country. He's hip-deep in international corporatism; his dad is in up to his neck. Both of them have worked long and hard for international trade agreements that give the big corporations power over mere countries -- power that until recently resided with the country's own government. Under NAFTA, trade agreements take precedence over a country's health, welfare, and legal sanctions. The United States can be sued if our laws "restrain trade" by insisting that an imported product be safe and non-polluting. Sued, that is, not by another country, but by the international corporation that plans to make a profit on that product.

Now, let's take another look at the budget. It's clearly designed to provide work for every defense contractor in the whole country (and out of it, too), whether experts agree that the expense is relevant or necessary. Like many of the regulations imposed since 11 September, it has little or nothing to do with the kind of terrorism the world is experiencing: suicide explosions, assasinations, etc. It deals with massive expenditures designed to facilitate invasions of foreign nations, whether or not evidence exists that they harbor terrorists. For that matter, what version of international law sanctions a full-dress attack on a legitimate government for the sole purpose of acquiring the body (living or dead) of a single human being? Without even the fiction of a declaration of war? (Well, Ronnie got away with it in Grenada though he argued that American lives were endangered there. And what about Nicaragua?)

It may indeed push money into the economy. All those war machines will get built by employed workers, who can then pay their mortgages, credit cards, and taxes. But to head back into overwhelming debt, at a time when so many other countries seem on the verge of default, or actually beyond the edge, will not help this country in the long run. If Bush is taking this road to avert a world depression (like the one that followed World War I), he's risking our necks to do it. He plans to tap Social Security. Even so, his budget promises an enormous deficit - and the cost of a war against Iraq isn't even figured in.

It seems much more likely that he's using the "terrorism" flag to line his own pockets, and those of his wealthy friends and relatives. Wars run on oil; the Bush family wades in oil. And their ties to international corporatism seems more and more clear.

Could Bush, who may indeed be much smarter than he pretends, actually be working out a long-range plan to bankrupt the United States in the name of international business? What advantage would that bring, if the people in the largest market in the world can't buy products? We may currently be the largest market in the world, but we're certainly not the only one. Think of all the other markets that international corporations could develop on American slave labor. Think of Americans working for 31 cents an hour, no benefits, as many in the "underdeveloped nations" have to do. Think of the CEOs of those international corporations raking in the profits. Think of the rest of us as future Enron employees.

Another Take on the Situation

A great deal of evidence shows that the Bush administration has learned from Fascism, aided by an assumption prevalent (at least in this country) that virtually any threat can be handled by passing a law to cover it. The less common the threat, the more draconian the law. For example: several letters have been found containing anthrax spores. Although evidence traces the anthrax right back to the CIA, we hear nothing whatever about finding the person(s) who acquired and mailed it, or about seeking to determine their motives. Instead, we hear that enormous funds are to be spent to provide machines to irradiate mail - anyone's mail -- containing virtually anything that gets mailed. Hard radiation ruins foods and prescription medicines, so don't mail cookies to your kid at camp or college, and if you (like many of us) use a mail-order prescription drug supplier, beware! It also melts plastic (what's going to happen to all those credit cards?), spoils electronic media, and darkens and weakens paper. As more and more people find their mail unusable, times will become very hard on the already struggling Post Office, and a bonanza for UPS and Air Express.

Certainly I feel for those who were made ill or died from the exposure to anthrax. But we're reacting as though we expected every letter to carry contamination.

Under Hitler's fascist rule, anything that was not mandated was forbidden (and if you failed to figure out which unmentioned items this referred to, you were in big trouble). It's now forbidden to wear masks, even in parades, or as part of your costume, if the local police decide to call you on it. (They are apt to target minorities; so far they have generally focused on American Indians. If your child is White, he or she may get away with wearing a costume for Hallowe'en.) It's dangerous to belong to the Green Party (you can be permanently refused the right to use the airline ticket you bought and paid for). It's equally dangerous to allow a nervous and poorly trained security guard to see that you know how to read; a young person was recently refused passage on an airplane for carrying a Harry Potter book.

It's more than rumored that national ID cards are being planned. What's the difference between Social Security numbers and a national ID database? For one thing, you don't have to give your social security number to anyone except your bank, your employer, your creditors, and the IRS. (Some people put them on their checks. They are playing right into the hands of the national ID system, not to mention identity thieves.) You don't have to show your card when you shop, visit your family, or travel from state to state. The national ID currently proposed might indeed help regulate drivers with drunk driving or criminal records who now can get licenses in other states; but it's the start of a national database with major implications. Think of the other USA: the Union of South Africa. There you had to have an ID card (if you were colored) and could be jailed if you failed to have it on your person at all times.

Consider the actions of Attorney General Ashcroft. Like Bush, he learns from history; in his case, from Joseph McCarthy. Facing down a weak-kneed Senate Committee, he claims that anyone who disapproves of his actions is an un-American traitor. (I have here in my briefcase the names of Communists and Communist sympathizers!) What's un-American about demanding that laws be followed and people be considered innocent until proven guilty? About requiring trials to be open, if not to the public, at least to watchdog journalists? With friends like these in the government, America does not need enemies. We're doing it to ourselves. But waving the flag and pointing to 11 September seems to cow even our elected officials. It's quite evident why every volume of the Bush Budget has an American flag on it. Vote against the budget, prove yourself unloyal, un-American. Answer to your conscience and risk whatever the new fascists plan for your punishment.

Consider the so-called "Homeland Security Act" which plans to combine all those scattered data-points assorted computers have on each of us. Medical records, library cards, on-line purchases, off-line purchases, insurance policies, bank records, you name it: the government will know more about each of us than we do about ourselves. And, given the general accuracy of those records, they can combine into enormous, mistaken, even falsified accounts that bear no resemblance to reality. However, since they will be held by the government, ordinary citizens will have no way to check up on these records, or to challenge them, unlike the records held by credit-checking firms. Case in point: a colleague of mine recently received a letter from the government demanding the answers to several (vaguely legitimate) questions. Her name was misspelled, and it was sent to an address on campus that she had never occupied. A wonder that she even received it. But, like the IRS, we can expect the government to hold that failure to receive a letter does not serve as an excuse for not responding to it.

Martha A. Bartter

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