Isn't it interesting that a few small percentage points here and there--third-quarter GDP showed an annual growth rate of 8.2 percent and monthly unemployment dropped from 6.1 percent to 6 percent--produces such euphoria about the country's economic upturn?
Before trumpeting this "boom," the Bush Administration and its crony pundits should pay attention to the real state of the economy--where nine million people are out of work, wages and salaries are stagnant or down, health care costs have increased to staggering double digit rates, retirement savings have been ravaged by the stock market crash, school budgets are taking severe hits, tuitions at public universities are http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/0811/p01s03-ussc.html ">soaring and personal bankruptcies are at an all-time high.
Headlines like "Bloom is on the Economy," (The New York Times, 11/8) or "Tough Times Over?" (Washington Post, 11/9) seem foolish, even mean-spirited, when families, communities and whole states are struggling to survive. Consider that in Bush's home state of Texas, according to the Houston Chronicle, 54,000 children have been dropped from the federal-state health insurance program due to budget cuts. Texas, and other states, are also cutting back on subsidies for healthcare, further increasing the number of people with no coverage--now conservatively estimated at 43 million, with their numbers rapidly increasing. And paying for health insurance is becoming a problem for more than just people living on low or fixed-incomes, with many hospitals and neighborhood clinics saying that middle-class people are now joining the poor in seeking their care.
The National Rifle Association recently targeted hundreds of organizations and individuals for having the temerity to have "lent their names and notoriety" to the "anti-gun cause." The NRA has compiled these names on a 19-page blacklist being made available to its membership.
Who's on the list? Sure enough, there's the notorious Oprah Winfrey, Jerry Seinfeld, Sean Connery, Julia Roberts, Bruce Springsteen, Mel Brooks and Jimmy Carter. Also Russell Simmons, Missy Elliot, Shania Twain and Dustin Hoffman. The NAACP, NOW, the United Methodist Church, the AARP and the American Jewish Congress are also all featured on this modern-day enemies list.
The anti-gun group Stop The NRA thought that more than just NRA members should see the list. So, they've created a website dedicated to exposing this campaign and are encouraging concerned citizens to sign up for what reasonable Americans should consider an honor roll.
This essay, from the November 25, 1931, issue of The Nation, is a special selection from The Nation Digital Archive. If you want to read everything The Nation has ever published, click here for information on how to acquire individual access to the Archive--an electronic database of every Nation article since 1865.
Want to see some thuggish Republican fear-mongering? Check out the GOP's first ad for the 2004 election, which starts running Sunday in Iowa. It accuses Democratic presidential candidates of "attacking the president for attacking the terrorists" and urges viewers to call Congress to "tell them to support the President's policy of preemptive self-defense."
But the Democratic candidates are attacking Bush's preemptive war against Iraq precisely because it had nothing to do with the war on terror. It's now clear--even to most supporters of the war--that Iraq posed no imminent threat to the United States and that Bush and his cronies misled the nation into a war of choice not necessity.
And, if you look at what's happening around the world today, including the recent bombings in Turkey, can any reasonable person argue that "preemptive self defense" has made the world more secure? Instead, it seems easier with each passing day to conclude, tragically, that this Adminstration's disastrous policies have undermined our security and our image in the world and failed to make America--or the world--safer, more secure, more prosperous or more democratic.
The weblog below was originally posted on November 2. We received some powerful responses, which convinced us to re-post the article, a look at why people frequently vote against their own material interests, along with a sampling of reader mail. Click here to read three letters--from Texas, Florida and California.
Why do people consistently vote against their self-interest? Consider Alabama, where low-income people, who hardly benefit from tax cuts that jeopardize government services, recently voted down a referendum that tried to shift the burden from overtaxed working people to under-taxed business interests.
Alabama's citizens, as a New York Times editorial comment pointed out, voted "for fewer social services, less education, and a shoddier legal system--to become, that is, more like a third-world nation." Through a decision made by its own residents, Alabama is now entrenched at the bottom of the national rankings in government services.
I read with interest Katrina vanden Heuvel's weblog in which she laments the recent decision by Alabama voters to vote down a referendum that would shift taxes from the "folks" to under-taxed business interests. I'm from the south, so I'd like to offer an explanation for this oddity.
Two reasons why this happens:
1) Ignorance. You mention this, and it's just a sad fact. So many people really do not know what the hell is going on. Noam Chomsky said it best in one of his interviews that the powerful simply want the mass of folk to stay dumb and complacent. As long as we watch our sports and soap operas, and eagerly follow the J Lo/Ben romance, they are satisfied that we will not cause too many problems by asking questions and actually being concerned. As long as most of us are mindless consumers everything is a-okay. And lest we forget, Alabama isn't reknowned for its educational system.
As Sarah Anderson explains in a Nation web report, the outcome of the Miami trade talks represents a major failure for the Bush Administration. After nine years of insisting that all thirty-four countries must sign on to a comprehensive agreement or else be denied critical market access, the US team conceded to pressure from Brazil and other nations and significantly hollowed out the FTAA in order to get a deal done.
Meanwhile, activists have been doing their best to build a movement for social change, which hasn't been easy in Miami. Thousands of uniformed officers, drawn from a total of forty different law enforcement agencies, aggressively intimidated activists throughout the week. On Thursday, the police refused access to downtown Miami to nearly ninety buses carrying retirees who were there to participate in the permitted march and rally.
For the first three days leading up to the summit, as Anderson reports, the dozens of teach-ins held throughout downtown Miami were regularly surrounded by cops on boats, bikes and horses, which (no joke) sport their own riot helmets with plexiglass face-shields. And on Thursday, police in riot gear fired rubber bullets and canisters of chemical spray at thousands of peaceful demonstrators gathered in the shadow of downtown skyscrapers.
Media reports out of the Miami trade talks this week will no doubt
feature images of our carrot-topped lead negotiator, Robert Zoellick,
locked in toothy handshakes with Latin American counterp