Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Priorities of a Banana Republic

The last two weeks has been a time of trial and turmoil for our nation and we are probably overdosed or about to be overdosed by the horrific scenes from Hurricane Katrina. The suffering of our neighbors is overwhelming to us. We are personally giving greater money and personal goods than ever before. Our personal priorities are clear and correct, but what are the priorities of our national government?

We can get some images that predate the latest catastrophe. The poverty rate defined as income of less than $19,307 for a family of four increased to 12.7% from 2000 to 2004 and up 1.1 million people since 2003. This slow tragedy happened during the largest tax cuts for the super wealthy in history. Give that priority to the wealthy. The number of people without health insurance grew by 800,000. Advantage wealthy.

According to a recent UN report, our infant mortality rate is the now the same as Malaysia. Until the year 2000, US children dying before age 5 declined in numbers. Since 2000, that rate has increased. Paul Vallely in the UK Independent noted that infant Blacks in Washington, DC have a higher death rate than the Indian State of Kerala. Black children are more than twice as likely to die before their first birthdays than white children. Priority; white over black. Hispanics are more than twice as likely to be without health insurance than whites. Priority; white over Hispanic.

The administration?s Estate Tax proposal to eliminate all estate taxes will serve to protect wealth over the interests of a living wage. Meanwhile, the national debt soars. Advantage rich; disadvantage middle class. In US history, the classic approach for the middle class to develop has been through education and the best example has been the GI Bill that enlarged the middle class to a new scale and helped our country produce a great set of everything from entrepreneurs to engineers and made us vibrant. Education inflation in double digits for the past 4 years; advantage wealthy. Do we need to mention CAFTA and how it will make wages downwardly mobile? Finally, let us cycle back to the tragedy on the Gulf Coast. President Bush is establishing a recovery labor system that will enable less than prevailing wages for critical building trade skills.

Meanwhile, his administration has given Halliburton and Shaw no-bid contracts for the recovery efforts. I guess that Dick Cheney needed a better profit margin for his friends. Meanwhile, Joe Allbough the former FEMA Director, is now a registered lobbyist for Halliburton and KBR as well as an old college chum of Mike Brown the recent FEMA Director. Priority rich and connected; disadvantage America. If this continues will our country have appeal or a peel?

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