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Volume III, Number 9: 9 March 2003
Now, at the start of the twenty-first century, every major aspect of American life is being shaped by our Permanent War Economy. Civilian manufacturing industries are being swept away as a war-focused White House and a compliant Congress sponsor deindustrialization of the U.S. They favor production—in Mexico and China, where government powers bar independent unions. As production of both consumer goods and capital goods is moved out of America, unions and whole communities are decimated. Ghost towns are created across the country. That process is far along in industries that once invented machine tools, radios, and even TV's. Now the decay proceeds in "new economy" industries like computers and "Palm" type devices. The U.S. firms that sell such equipment typically assemble components that are manufactured elsewhere.
The Roman Catholicism of my youth emphasized duality. I was taught to love God and to fear God. I was taught that there was a Heaven and a Hell. I was taught that we all share a social responsibility for each other, but that I was solely responsible for salvation of my own soul. God was both a mystery and the answer to the mystery of life. Over time I learned that God meant different things to different people. The most important lesson was that the idea of God seemed to be infinitely malleable. How else would one explain President Bush's ability to claim Jesus as his favorite philosopher while at the same time advocating war over peace? Bush's fundamentalism helps him deny that he has discarded the teachings of Christ to support his own beliefs. Bush's faith is in himself, not God. Bush uses God as a powerful tool to sell both the American public and himself on his worldly actions. Bush does not trust in God; he trusts in himself.
Earlier this month, Newsweek published an encomium by Howard Fineman on President Bush and his ardent Christian faith. The article described Bush as a man who faithfully reads books of sermons once, even twice, a day, and who relies on religious metaphor and imagery in his most important speeches. One question that Fineman did not deem to ask was whether all the public piety was for show.
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Americans can forget about the separation of church and state. President Bush believes the United States was called to bring God's gift of liberty to "every human being in the world." Like no president before him, Bush has mixed politics and religion. We are told to take comfort that the man who turned the White House into a bible-reading class takes his direction from God. The bridge that Bill Clinton was building to the twenty-first century has led to trickle-down economics and trickle-down liberation theology. According to Bush, Jesus would not support land reform or redistribution of wealth to empower the world's poor. He might want the meek to inherit the earth, but only after it trickled down to them.
Based on what conservatives are saying, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor is doing a horrible disservice to education in America. In January, President Bush claimed that the university had established a racial "quota" because "a perfect SAT score is worth only 12 points in the Michigan system. Students who accumulate 100 points are generally admitted, so those 20 points awarded solely based on race are often the decisive factor." The truth about the Michigan admissions system is much more complicated than that, of course. And conservatives would generally prefer to describe the Michigan admission as equivalent to a quota rather than describe it for what it is.
[Click on a title to read a particular article.]
We are honored to publish an article this week from Seymour Melman, Emeritus Professor of Industrial Engineering at Columbia University.
Alos two hundred articles from previous weeks are in our archives. If you're not careful, you might learn something.
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The British government claimed in September 2002 that Iraq had been trying since 1998 to smuggle uranium from Africa. Investigators for the United Nations have found, however, that the key documents cited by British intelligence, documents that named Niger as the source of the uranium, were crude forgeries. Oops.
The Guardian, 8 March 2003.