9.11.2006

A Bitter Anniversary

On September 12, 2001, the French newspaper, Le Monde, proclaimed on its front page, "We Are All Americans." On one bright, shining day, after one of our nation's greatest tragedies, even the French liked us. In the five years since, American policy worked to destroy most good will felt for us throughout the world. From CIA kidnappings, to secret torture prisons, to the war on Iraq, to Guantanamo Bay, to Abu Ghraib, American policies consistently worked to erode American credibility on the world stage.

While the Bush Administrations describe the international soldiers fighting in Iraq as "coalition forces," it is easy to remember that we easily obtained a strong coalition to join us in the invasion of Afghanistan just a couple months after the 9/11 attacks. In the wake of terrorists destroying the World Trade Center, NATO fulfilled it's commitment by sending forces to Afghanistan to defend the United States against terrorists. Although the enemy was non-traditional, NATO leaders saw the need to destroy Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. We went into battle with a true coalition. Forces from most of NATO countries joined us in our efforts to capture Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice. On the mountains of Tora Bora, we let all of our allies down.

Rather than staying the course and finding the man who orchestrated the 9/11 attacks. American leadership allowed bin Laden and his lieutenants to escape into the wilderness along the Afghanistan/Pakistan border. Rather than capturing bin Laden, the Bush Administration blamed his specter upon other nations and other world leaders. Bush told us that if a nation harbored terrorists, then they were just as guilty as the terrorists. Bush then attacked Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq. As history has shown, Hussein did not have warm relations with Al-Qaeda as described by the Bush Administration. Hussein did not even possess the weaponry claimed by the Bush Administration. In fact, Hussein viewed Al-Qaeda as a threat and could not develop the weapons of mass destruction he allegedly owned.

In the wake of 9/11, the Bush Administration have killed countless thousands of Iraqi civilians (a minimum of 41,000). They have killed more than 2,660 American soldiers. While 2,752 men and women died five years ago, 9/11 has further killed a minimum of 43,660 people since the terrorists attacked our shores. In that time the United States destroyed a country and has created further instability in the world's most instable region. While Al-Qaeda killed 2,752 people five years ago, the American government has killed more than 43,660--almost 15 times the number of people killed on 9/11. Think of these numbers and wonder why the rest of the world is confused on who the real terrorists are.

9.05.2006

American Workers: Running to Stand Still

"A report out Friday found that the U.S. economy continued to create jobs - 128,000 in August alone - while unemployment remains near historic lows at 4.7àBut a separate government report issued earlier in the week showed that many of the benefits from the five-year economic expansion have gone to the nation's highest income earners while the average worker has struggled to stay in place. The overall economy has grown by nearly 12 ince the 2001 recession, while median house hold income has declined 0.5â

"Labor Day: A Report Card for American Workers"
The Wall Street Journal, Page A7
September 2-3, 2006


Sometimes you look back into the past and see bad things beginning to happen. Things that, at the time, seemed to be normal but in hindsight, were precursors of destructive forces. In October 2000, I sighed in defeat watching Al Gore sigh in indignation as George W. Bush answered questions in their first presidential debate. Rather than applauding Gore's proposals of sound economic principals that would protect American workers, the general public ridiculed Gore for his lack of manners and his use of "lock box" to describe his proposed policy regarding Social Security and Medicaid. Missed in all of the ridicule was that Gore proposed tax cuts that would put money in the pockets of average American workers while paying down the Government's budget deficits. Gore noted that Bush's tax plan would greatly benefit the top one percent of American wage earners while leaving crumbs for vast majority of American workers. Bush responded by saying, "My opponent thinks the government -- the surplus is the government's money. That's not what I think. I think it's the hard-working people of America's money and I want to share some of that money with you so you have more money to build and save and dream for your families . . . It's a difference between government making decisions for you and you getting more of your money to make decisions for yourself."

Bush predicated his tax cuts on putting dollars back into the pockets of hard working Americans so they could empower themselves and make the American Dream come true for their families. However, when put into practice, the Bush plan did not reap dividends for American workers. In fact, Bush's tax cuts left them running on a treadmill operating a bit faster than the American workforce could run. Despite the tragedies of 9/11 and the War in Iraq, the American economy has grown approximately 12 percent since the end of 2001. In that time, corporations in several industries posted record profits and most more than made up for the losses sustained in the months immediately following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

While businesses and wealthy Americans prospered by taking advantage of provisions within the Bush tax cuts, Americans in lower and middle income levels bore the financial burdens brought by the tax cuts. Lower taxes did not put more money in the pockets of American workers. Lower taxes did not allow American workers to gain higher salaries. In fact, the only reason that median household incomes have not fallen farther than they have is because American workers are commonly working multiple jobs.

People who claim that lower taxes spur economic growth are right. Lower taxes allow people and organizations to spend more money on goods and services that they need. The beginning of the Bush Presidency, tax cuts have been used as a means to make the rich richer and hand the bill to average working Americans. Next time they offer a tax cut, make sure you know who will benefit from the tax cut before you agree to pay for it.
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