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Bear Left!

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Volume III, Number 15: 6 May 2003

Guns Don't Equal Butter

Paul Corrigan

Americans are slowly coming to the realization that it was nonsense to believe that the United States invaded Iraq to destroy Weapons of Mass Destruction. Despite being lied to by a president who promised never to lie to the American people, Americans have been mollified by the euphoria of having our team win. The "Bush Administration Buccaneers" beat Iraq in a media event that put every Super Bowl to shame.

But, just like football fans do after Super Bowl Sunday, Americans will return to the reality of their daily lives. Unless the Bush administration's guns can deliver the butter, the fans will turn on George W. just like they turned on his father.

The United States invaded Iraq because the Bush administration believes that economic prosperity (and political popularity) in America is intrinsically tied to military power. According to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, "the single most important thing for the economic prosperity and well-being of the American people is that we have a reasonably safe, a reasonably stable, world." Rumsfeld's faith in this proposition is so great that he is willing to open up the American Treasury for the cause: "We can afford to spend on national defense any absolute amount of dollars and any percentage of GDP that is necessary to have that reasonably stable, reasonably peaceful world, because without that we do not have the opportunity to enjoy our freedoms."

For Rumsfeld and the rest of the Bush administration, freedom is just another word for corporate access to all of the world's natural resources, cheap labor, and markets—and for the members of the administration to cash in on the largesse. Their view of democracy is a system of government and political institutions that facilitate such access. It is no less than laissez-faire capitalism. This administration believes that American business should no more have to answer to workers and communities than it should have to grovel on bended knee to dictators like Saddam Hussein who just happen to control oil reserves or other resources. There is an odd consistency in their policy of tax cuts at home and the overthrow of governments abroad.

The Bush administration displays an open disdain of the role that governments play in regulating American business. Bush revealed the antipathy that he and his administration feel about the democratic process when he joked that being dictator would be much easier than being president. Rumsfeld has complained that dealing with governments makes business "slow" and "bureaucratic." Cheney wants Americans to believe that Haliburton's financial success has nothing to do with government. These three guys, and their families and friends, are complaining all the way to the bank.

The Bush administration operates in a time warp that lets its members ignore that government has saved business and capitalism from the excesses of laissez-faire. Government has also been the incubator of some of the business segments in our society that have greatly aided the economy, especially new technologies. Now is hardly the time to let business regulate business. Corporate abuse is so rampant that even Fortune magazine is referring to CEOs as pigs. Fortune looked the other way when workers and communities were getting abused by the managerial class, but its editors stood up and took notice when investors were treated to the same abuse. Today, although the pages of the domestic and international business press depict in detail all manner of corporate abuse, the Bush administration wants to return the pigs to power. International relations, worker pension programs, and the environment be damned!

The Bush administration is carrying on domestic and foreign policy as if economic prosperity will be the natural byproduct of tax cuts and military victory over small countries 7,000 miles away from our borders. It remains to be seen how much damage it has done to America at home and abroad.

Bush and many of his key advisors came into the government after doing quite well for themselves as leaders of companies that did much less for their investors. The managers at Global Crossing, Enron, and WorldCom promised investors that they were concerned only with increasing shareholder value. Bush and his administration are in turn bankrupting our country while telling us that they are increasing taxpayer value. Don't you believe them.