An affront to common sense

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 8, 2004

We have a national budget deficit of nearly $500 billion (that’s $500,000,000,000.00).

We have about 2.5 million people who used to have jobs no longer do, there are 12 million children who have no health insurance, industrial jobs are moving out of the country, and, except for Martha Stewart, corporate criminals are getting richer and richer by raiding retirement accounts and robbing employees.

But that’s okay, says President Bush, because if we quit taxing multinational corporations and millionaires, everybody will better off. I’m not sure how that employs people since the corporations are using the extra few million dollars to build new factories in Mexico, China, Korea, and many other third world nations where they don’t have to bother with pesky things like decent wages, health insurance, or retirement benefits.

Meanwhile, in America, more and more businesses are doing away with retirement benefits and making employees pay the lion’s share of health insurance, which when coupled with no raises for years and years, means hard-working people with families can no longer afford health insurance or the paltry 401k plans employers offer instead of real retirement plans.

Most Americans are worse off today than they were five years ago, but Bush says that’s all right because we’re &uot;turning a corner.&uot; I’m afraid that four more years of Bush means the street we’re turning onto from that corner will be dark and dirty for most of us.

To get reelected, Bush keeps reminding us that we’re safer from terrorism than we were before 9/11 thanks to what he’s done. At the same time, he keeps us on pins and needles because al Quada is planning an even bigger attack that 9/11.

In the name of security against this impending threat, we must now worry about what our own government is doing. We gave more police power to the U.S. government with the Patriot Act and would give even more power to it if the Patriot Act were expanded. As a nation of laws, we should ensure that all prisoners in our custody are treated in accordance to our laws or to international laws we expect others to abide by. It is our responsibility – our burden – to make sure everybody in our custody is afforded the right to representation, to a list of charges, to the right to at least communicate with family members, and given the opportunity to defend themselves against accusations and charges made against them.

In the name of security, we are sacrificing the legal protections that guarantee our freedoms and liberties. By doing so, we are on that slippery slope. Our freedoms have been attained through struggle: Our forefathers fought a war for them, we fought a Civil War for them, our armed forces have fought several wars to preserve them, conscientious protestors have fought to broaden and preserve them, and legal battles have been waged since the nation began to strengthen them. We can’t just give up our freedoms because 19 suicidal madmen attacked us.

As for the war against terrorism, nothing has changed. We have not defeated al Quada because we diverted our forces and resources away from the war on terrorism for an ill-conceived excursion into Iraq that has cost over 900 American lives, injured thousands more, and cost the nation hundreds of billions of dollars.

The rationale for going to war – a threat to national security because of nuclear weapons, biological weapons, chemical weapons, and ties to al Quada – was false. Yes, Iraq and the world are better off without Saddam Hussein, but there was never any threat to our national security from him. Saddam did violate U.N. resolutions, but wouldn’t it be the responsibility of the UN to enforce its own resolutions?

Remember what Benjamin Franklin said – &uot;They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security.&uot; I think every American deserves &uot;essential liberty&uot; and I, for one, and not willing to give it up for &uot;temporary security&uot; because I know that in the long run, you lose both liberty and security.