Friday, September 02, 2005


Unkind Cuts

I made a mistake in the "As Ye Sow" piece. I originally wrote "$230 short...." It was supposed to be "$23M short...." Basically, with all the money asked for by the Army Corps of Engineers for New Orleans, the Bush White House proposed giving them between 1/3 and 1/4 of what was asked for, and then Congress upped it to about half of what was needed. It wouldn't be so much of a scandal (priorities do have to be made) except that we're spending $4 billion a week in Iraq, much of that going to military contractors and American defense corporations.

Similar cuts have, of course, been going on all over the country at every level. The military base closings that have been taking place will save the Pentagon some $5 billion annually. Again, not a bad thing, except that the figure pays for a measly nine or ten days in Iraq, and we have built, or are building, 14 military bases on Iraqi soil.

Again, the point is that this Administration is deliberately engaging in extraordinary deficit spending, in a deliberate attempt to bankrupt the U.S. Treasury. It's a philosophical position. A radical one, I might add. Care to go looking for spending bills Bush has vetoed? I'll give you a hint: it'll be a lonely search, and you'll look a long time. At the same time, ordinary governmental services that U.S. citizens have taken for granted for a century and more are considered, by the right-wing philosophes, disreputable, and so the administration has been slashing them wherever and however it can. Their principles are: remove all constraints on big business, multinational corporations, and the very rich; spend as much federal money as possible, so there's none left for government social programs; and curtail or eliminate all federal spending on social programs, average citizens, and infrastructure.

All the little things that people complain about are just manifestations of this overall policy: the "tax reductions" that are really just a giveaway to the rich, and will only serve to shift a greater tax burden to the middle class; the unprecedented military spending, extraordinary in a time of peace; the gutting of environmental protections (note that the Bush Administration was quick to "respond" to high gas prices in the past few days by removing more environmental restrictions on gas producers--think that will be temporary?), the attempt to dismantle Social Security. All of it is just part and parcel of this government's radical basic policies.

It's interesting that one great project of the Neocon revolution has been to transfer the former demonization of communists and socialists to a demonization of liberals. It seems an odd choice of bogeymen--demonizing liberals seems at first blush like clubbing baby seals or beating St. Francis with a stick. But what does "liberal" really mean? It's just a name for people who believe that society works best when there is strong government regulation, government involvement in social and societal problems, and government oversight of industry.

If you watch the White House carefully in the days and weeks to come, I think what you will see is a decided lack of interest in mobilizing relief for the Gulf Coast (no accident that Congress had to initiate recovery spending), but very quick and almost covert action when it comes to exploiting the tragedy to further their underlying aims.

The Quotidian Meander

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