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Bear Left!

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Volume III, Number 17: 26 June 2003

Has America's Chemistry Changed?

Paul Corrigan

I hope that it's only amnesia
Believe me I'm sick but not insane
Yeah, I hope that it's only amnesia
My friends they don't look at me the same.
—"Amnesia," Pousette-Dart Band

Has something in America's chemistry changed? Do George W. Bush and his administration represent our wants and aspirations? Do we not care that our president lies, cheats, and steals as long as he bullies the rest of the world and the weakest amongst us at home?

I hope not.

George W. Bush does not dream my dreams. Bush has chosen to ensure that America's material prosperity, indeed the prosperity of the world, is something to be hoarded, not shared. Bush's tax cut plan is more than a windfall for the rich; it is a cynical strategy to force cuts in the most basic of social services. The Bush administration now believes it can do and say anything with impunity. Its cynicism was clearly evident when the White House admitted that it kept under wraps a study prepared for former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill that projected future deficits of at least $44.2 trillion. The administration also admitted that it agreed with the conclusions of the study. While making these admissions, Ari Fleischer kept a straight face and told the news media that Social Security and Medicare are going to present generations with a crushing debt burden unless policymakers work seriously to reform those programs.

I choose to believe that America's dream is Martin Luther King's dream. One hundred years after Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, King both shamed and challenged America with his "I Have a Dream" speech. King referred to Lincoln as a "great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice." George W. Bush is no beacon of light of hope.

I choose to believe that America's dream is Ted Kennedy's Dream. When Ted Kennedy spoke to the Democratic convention in 1980 he asked Americans to renew our commitment to a "fair and lasting prosperity" and "economic justice." Kennedy ended that speech with these words: "For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die." George W. Bush is not concerned with economic justice.

The day before George W. Bush signed his latest tax cut into law, he officially increased the limit on the national debt by approximately $1,000,000,000,000 to a staggering $7.4 trillion. Only a few will benefit materially from the tax cuts but virtually all of us, and our children, will pay the tab.