Friday, December 17, 2004

The Robbery Continues

By Rich Miles

Dec. 17, 2004

Dear Bush Voters:

I have a question for you. It’s a sincere question, not meant to be a “wise-guy” remark, or anything like that. I really want to know this.

What is it going to take for you to recognize that George W. Bush and his cronies are embarked on the most profound redistribution of wealth in history, and that this redistribution is almost exclusively UPWARD?

I mean seriously – how much of your money, and your children’s money is he going to have to take away from you and give to people who are already obscenely wealthy before you start to notice? How long can he say, “It’s your money, not the government’s money” before you notice that he’s not talking to you, he’s talking to corporate CEO’s, and his friends in the oil business, and large Wall Street brokers, and other folks who already have most of our money anyway?

Bush has just completed a two-day economic summit at which he discussed ways to take even more of your money from you, while continuing to tell you that he’s doing this for your own good. In the Bush speeches which emanated from the summit, at least two major initiatives were outlined: so-called “tort reform”, and Social Security reform. So let’s look at those for a minute:

First, tort reform: in essence new laws that would eliminate large monetary awards for corporate and medical errors. Bush has said repeatedly that this is a necessary reform to help keep medical costs down. But large malpractice awards have been shown to contribute less than 1.5% to the record increases in the rise of medical costs in the past four years. So who benefits if these laws are put on the books?

Why, large corporations of course. The ones that run huge medical, or pharmaceutical, or any other corporate megaliths. The ones who are already obscenely wealthy and who under the first Bush administration have become more so. The people and companies who will no longer have to worry about multimillion dollar payments to people they’ve harmed. The people who will see the occasional $250,000 or so fine or jury award as simply a cost of doing business, but will do little or nothing to correct the error that caused the harm in the first place, because there’s no financial incentive to do so. And so the harm will continue.

Next, Social Security reform – the much-touted “private investment accounts”, which sound so attractive to us free-spirited, rugged individualist Americans, until we look closer and see who will benefit most from them: not us, who will be at the mercy of the markets for our retirement benefits, but two main groups: employers (large and small), who will pay less to the SocSec system, and stockbrokers, who will receive their commissions and account maintenance fees whether the market goes up or down. Do you really feel competent to run a stock trading account, on the success of which your life may literally depend one day?

But when these questions are asked, there are two more or less standard responses: first, the questioner is engaging in “partisan politics”, which generally means you disagree with anything Bush says, or you’re promoting “class warfare”, which generally means you care more about the poor, the sick, the old and the victims of corporate greed than you do about CEO’s and huge corporations. So the question never gets answered, and the robbery continues.

And let’s not even get into tax cuts for the wealthy, and massive federal deficits that will take decades to pay off, thus making them your children’s debts.

So again, I really want to know: what is it going to take for you to realize that George W. Bush is robbing you? And what will you be willing to do about it when the light comes on?

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