September 27, 2008

COMMENTARY: High Crimes and Hypocrisies

The news, such as it was, that the Emperor of Capitalism (also known as: the United States of America) is wearing no clothes has been greeted this past week with a lot of hooting and hollering. The Bush Administration, of course, is acting completely in line with their usual M.O.: first, ignore all of the warning signs; second, deny you ever ignored all of the warning signs; and third, scare the American people into paralysis – and start stealing with both hands. This was Bush’s modus operandi before, during and after 9/11 – through the Iraq invasion, through the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, and on through today. Bush’s reckless warnings this week that “our entire economy is in danger” sound just like his equally trumped-up lies regarding Iraq’s possession of “weapons of mass destruction.” The only thing this administration does efficiently is crank up the fear machine; in fact, George W. Bush is not just the worst President in our nation’s history, he’s also the worst terrorist our nation has ever encountered. His newest demand that taxpayers hand over $700 billion to Henry Paulson (I half-expected to hear “by midnight Friday – and, preferably, in small, unmarked bills”) is yet another outrageous, criminal act by Bush and his bandits who now add extortion to their crimes of murder, thievery and obstruction of justice.

This latest Wall Street bailout – as of this writing, still to be negotiated, but surely to reach well beyond $1 trillion dollars of taxpayer money given the $30 billion already committed to Bear Stearns, the $200 billion already committed to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, and the $85 billion already committed to AIG – spotlights an even more fundamental problem for our country: namely, the conservative hypocrisy rampant among Republicans. The very same conservative hypocrites who look you in the eye and say “Well, you can’t solve social problems just by throwing money at them” – and remember: the only money ever spent on any social problem in America is comparative budget dust – are now, yet again, on bended knee begging for a blank check to cover their failures and fraudulent behaviors.

To put some context around the $1 trillion or more you and I will end up paying to bail out the Wall Street millionaires and Republican hypocrites, here are five basic comparisons:

  • First, compare the $1 trillion bailout to the total U.S. economy. Measured as our Gross Domestic Product, the total U.S. economy is about $13.8 trillion. So, the additional $1 trillion you and I will pay really is a lot of money.

  • Second, the total U.S. national debt, which is a staggering number by itself, is about $9 trillion.

  • Third, in 2008, the U.S. government will collect about $2.66 trillion in income taxes, Social Security taxes, corporate taxes, excise taxes, custom duties, estate and gift taxes and other revenues. So this new $1 trillion dollars you and I will pay is an unprecedented move by Uncle Sam to put his big, allegedly conservative but truly hypocritical hand more deeply into our pockets than ever before – and all for the sake of “rescuing” the Wall Street greed merchants. (By the way, corporate taxes total about $314.9 billion – that’s “billion” with a “b” – compared to $1.25 trillion – that’s “trillion” with a “t” – you and I pay in individual income taxes.)

  • Fourth, in 2008, the U.S. government will spend about $1.79 trillion on Social Security payments, Medicare, Medicaid, children’s health insurance, unemployment and welfare benefits, and interest on the national debt. So the new $1 trillion you and I will pay to bail out Wall Street could otherwise cover all of these “bills” for about half of the year.

  • Finally, in 2008, the U.S. government’s total discretionary spending – everything from the defense budget’s $481.4 billion and the $145.2 billion for the so-called “Global War on Terror” (which is really just another way to funnel even more of our tax dollars to America’s corporations and executives) and the $34.3 billion for Homeland Security to all of the federal spending for health and human services, education, veteran’s benefits, housing, justice and so on – totals about $1.114 trillion. So the $1 trillion or more you and I will pay to bail out Wall Street would cover all of these “bills” for an entire year. (By the way, spending for the Iraq war and the Afghanistan war are not included in the defense budget.)

If you are not angry about all of this, you are either not paying attention or you stand to benefit from having working people across America pay for all of these crimes and hypocrisies. Enough is enough.


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