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Separate but Unequal
Paul Corrigan

I don't usually beg, but I am begging. Will a politician of stature please stand up and decry America's stratification into a society where separate and unequal is the rule? Shame on America for playing make believe for so long. We are constantly reminded that it is un-American to appeal to class consciousness. It certainly is not un-American to enjoy the perks of class. We have ingrained in us at an early age that competition makes America great, but many of the men and women who run America's corporations do not compete. They bestow on themselves ever-increasing compensation and perks. They have been handed the American Treasury by public officials. They don't care about our health, our retirement, or our children's education; and neither do their servants in Washington, DC.

Politicians, especially Republican politicians, keep telling us that these men and women have been abused for far too long. They have borne the burden of the double taxation on corporations, the estate tax, and that communist ideal of progressive tax rates on personal income. To hear George W. Bush talk, this burden is worse than carrying a cross with a crown of thorns. The president eschewed the philosophy of his favorite philosopher, Jesus Christ, for his special brand of compassionate conservatism that put tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans as the nation's number one priority.

But if we are indeed a meritocracy, why are mediocrity and failure so richly rewarded? Why does Gary Winnick get to keep the $734 million he received from selling 30% of his Global Crossing shares while the workers of Global Crossing were forced to watch in vain as their retirement savings evaporated? That is the question that the Bush administration and the Tom Delays of the world want you to ask. Why? Because it takes a systemic problem and blames it on an individual, the "corrupt corporate kingpin." It is the equivalent of the misdirection play in football.

The more important question is why is one class of people in America treated separately and unequally? Not even Bush is dumb enough to believe that men and women (but mostly men) who run corporations, and make more in one day than an average worker makes in a year, need tax relief. Is anyone really surprised that the CEO share of the stock ownership pie has increased dramatically at a time when American workers were providing equity to the stock market through 401(k) retirement plans, a transfer of wealth unprecedented in American history. If a rising tide lifts all boats, why are so many wealthy Americans afloat and so many working Americans sunk? Bush told us that for the good of America we had to let these people avoid corporate taxation by setting up de jure but not de facto offices in offshore tax havens, cutting their private tax rates, and eliminating the tax on the transfer of wealth from their estates to their heirs. Bush wants us to believe that he did this after asking himself, what would Jesus do.

This is beyond absurd. Not only does the president have no clothes, the empire has no clothes either. It is a Ponzi scheme. The game is rigged. Raise your hand if you think the unelected president; the underachieving academic with diplomas from Philips Andover, Yale, and Harvard Business School; the failed businessman who used insider trading to turn worthless stock into an interest in a professional baseball team; the presidential candidate that took large sums of cash from Enron; and, the president that supported widespread corporate deregulation; is going to make sure the game isn't rigged anymore.

Anyone with their hand raised is nuts.

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