In the State of the Union speech presented by President George W. Bush, which was obviously written by others, powerful rhetoric was used as propaganda in order to manipulate politicians and the American people into acquiescing in increasingly fascist policies. In this address I am offering an intelligent alternative by criticizing Bush's speech and his policies he attempted to justify.
Bush began by promising more jobs. Yet in two years his economic policies have increased unemployment 50%, and further tax cuts for the wealthy and increased spending on wars are likely to continue this trend. His policies have curtailed workplace safety and the rights of workers to organize. Bush called for increasing the child tax credit to $1,000. I think this is a good first step; I have suggested increasing this to $5,000 per dependent. Making the large tax reductions for high incomes permanent is a bad idea and will not stimulate the economy soon. His proposed elimination of the tax on stock dividends is an even more outrageous give-away to the rich in which the top one percent will receive as much money as the bottom 95% of the population. All together Bush's new tax proposals would cost the U.S. Government another $694 billion. This is on top of the 2001 tax cut that is estimated in the trillions. These policies are an obvious pay-off to the wealthy contributors who managed to make Bush President in a very questionable and corrupt 2000 election. His plan to privatize Social Security in order to further reward capitalists would cost many billions in bureaucratic complications, would make financial security dependent on unstable markets, and would worsen the regressivity of that important program. Instead, I propose making social security tax more progressive by eliminating the cap that allows those with very high incomes to pay as little social security tax as those with moderate incomes.
Bush claimed that his second goal is to provide "affordable health care for all Americans." Yet the United States is the only industrialized country that fails to do this. His feeble proposal to let private insurance help the more than forty million people in this country who lack health insurance is a cruel hoax and would hardly mitigate this national disgrace. Cicero said that the public health is the highest good of a society. The United States has the best health care technology but the most unfair system for providing this basic need. National health care paid by the U.S. Government democratically determined would be much more efficient and less bureaucratic than the current maze of private insurance and health maintenance organizations that leave so many without proper care. Such a system would accomplish Bush's goal to "put doctors and nurses and patients back in charge of American medicine" by removing profit-taking from what should be a public entitlement. We must establish good health care as a basic human right for all in this country. In the vapid debates between Al Gore and George W. Bush in 2000, the most contentious issue that emerged was whose plan to provide prescription drugs would be implemented sooner. Yet after half of Bush's presidency even the elderly on Medicare have to scrimp to buy their medicine.
Bush's third goal of gaining energy independence and improving the environment has been a dismal failure. His plans to go to war to take control over the oil reserves in Iraq and to drill in the Arctic wildlife refuge of Alaska have brought millions of cries of protest. His rhetoric calls for cleaner technology and clear skies; but his policies that have outraged environmentalists contradict this. He claims he wants to preserve the health of forests by preventing fires; but he really is merely using this as a justification to allow more logging. Instead of encouraging fuel efficiency, his regime has given tax breaks to those who buy gas-guzzling Sport Utility Vehicles (SUV) and trucks. His proposal to allocate $1.2 billion for research on hydrogen-powered automobiles is welcome; but the United States could do more by following the pioneering legislation in California that requires greater fuel efficiency sooner.
I salute Bush's fourth goal of applying compassion to help those in need. Yet I doubt that he has made this a priority, because he stated that fiscal discipline must be imposed such that the federal budget must increase only a modest 4%. With the huge increases in military spending that could balloon even greater from war costs in Iraq, this means that the other discretionary programs that provide social services will have to be reduced. In other words, Bush is recommending that others be compassionate; but he will not allow the public trust of the U.S. Government to provide the help that is needed. This tight-fisted fiscal policy that gives tax breaks for the rich and spends outlandishly on unnecessary wars while cutting back the programs that actually help people makes his rhetoric about compassion hypocrisy. These policies are also fiscally irresponsible, as the projected federal deficit for the next two years was just announced to be $315 billion per year. This is an even worse repeat of the "Reaganomics" Bush's father called "voodoo economics." The programs to help people that Bush mentioned sound good; but his proposals to finance them with hundreds of millions should be increased to billions. Instead of funding a war in Colombia against rebels in the name of drug interdiction, this money could be used for more treatment programs here at home.
If Mr. Bush truly wants "a secure Israel and a democratic Palestine," then the United States should stop providing military aid in support of Israel's war crimes and repressive policies against the occupied Palestinians. This immoral and misguided policy causes much outrage among Muslims and is one of the main factors that leads to the terrorism he wants to stop. The United States leads the world in giving military aid; but it is dwarfed in per capita humanitarian contributions compared to European nations. The U.S. has been criticized for not giving enough to alleviate the AIDS epidemic in Africa. Bush's rhetoric on this sounds good; but the $15 billion he proposed over five years would only provide treatment for two million of the thirty million suffering.
Perhaps the most chilling part of Bush's speech was his description of how America has hunted down and killed people suspected of being al-Qaida terrorists. This posse comitatus approach ignores international law as he arrogates to himself the punishment of these suspected criminals without any trial or due process of law. He completely failed to mention the repressive measures of the USA Patriot Act that have eroded civil liberties in the United States as thousands have been arrested and detained without charges or legal representation. Citizens are finding themselves being spied on, and a "Total Information Awareness" program has been set up under the direction of John Poindexter, who committed crimes in the Iran-Contra scandal and then lied to Congress about them. Bush has used the panic caused by the 9-11 attacks as an excuse to implement fascist methods of over-zealous law enforcement, especially against immigrants. The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) is in need of serious reform because of these abuses. The war in Afghanistan has already killed more civilians than died on September 11th. Bombing people is not an intelligent foreign policy; but Bush wants to do more of it.
Most hypocritical of all, President Bush has threatened nations he has called the "axis of evil," especially Iraq, Iran, and North Korea, because they are trying to acquire nuclear weapons; yet the United States with 20,000 nuclear weapons has more than anyone else. He has even threatened to use nuclear weapons against Iraq. I am opposed to all weapons of mass destruction. Iraq and North Korea do need to be disarmed. I agree with Bush's words that "All free nations have a stake in preventing sudden and catastrophic attack." This is why people all over the world are protesting Bush's plan to wage war against Iraq. Bush says he will not be guided by the decisions of others, but he has no right to violate international law as he has been doing already with the bombing in the "no-fly zones," the economic sanctions that have caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis (violating the Geneva Conventions), and the planning and preparation of a war of aggression against Iraq that is a clear violation of the United Nations Charter Article 2 Sections 3 and 4 and which also is a crime against peace according to the Nuremberg Principles. His father was responsible for the war crimes that killed about 175,000 Iraqis in 1991, including about 50,000 civilians. The upcoming Iraq war has even less justification and will probably cause even more casualties on both sides. Recently President Bush warned Iraqi military officers that if they used chemical or biological weapons during the war, they would be "persecuted" for war crimes. This verbal error, when he meant "prosecuted," exposes the reality that Bush has been persecuting the people of Iraq.
The folly of Bush's foreign policy that threatens Iraq with war has caused other nations such as North Korea, Iran, Syria, Pakistan, Russia, and China to develop nuclear weapons so that they will have a deterrent against being attacked by the United States. This is causing a new nuclear arms race and is leading the world in the wrong direction. Bush used inflammatory rhetoric to arouse fear and hatred of Saddam Hussein so that he could go to war to fulfill his aim of world domination and to gain control over the oil resources in the Middle East. This warmongering is bound to increase massive violence and promote increased terrorism against the United States. Instead, I believe the United States should be leading the world toward peace and justice by accepting international law and bringing about the disarmament of all weapons of mass destruction in the world. It is unreasonable for the U.S. to expect other nations that have withdrawn from the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) to disarm their nuclear weapons when the U.S. and United Kingdom, which have not withdrawn from the NPT, are flagrantly violating Article 6 in which the nuclear nations agreed in 1969 to "cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament."
The United States has been punishing the people of Iraq for twelve years because of the crimes of their dictatorial government; this is unwise, unfair, immoral, and illegal. The government of Iraq has repeatedly stated that they no longer have any weapons of mass destruction, and they have opened their entire country to intrusive inspections and are willing to let those inspections continue. Even the CIA and FBI have warned that the mostly likely use of chemical or biological weapons by Iraq would be in response to an attack. The Bush administration should stop bullying the United Nations Security Council and allow these inspections to work. If any weapons are found, they should simply be destroyed.
I am encouraged that people around the world and in the United States have raised their voices and joined the peace movement's efforts to stop this unnecessary and imperialist war. We all need to do more to prevent this catastrophe, because President Bush is obviously still determined to go to war against Iraq. Although Congress in October 2002 unwisely voted to give Bush authority to go to war against Iraq, many are having second thoughts. If President Bush ignores the vote of the UN Security Council and goes to war with a few allies, he could and should be impeached. If the Congress fails to do that, it is up to the people of this country to elect a president who will reverse these disastrous policies.
I am running for President in order to offer an alternative that would lead this nation and the world to peace and justice. Yet U.S. elections are so corrupted by money interests that this is a very difficult process to reform. I ask for your help so that the people can hear a voice in the Democratic debates that will call for disarmament and wiser policies than have been offered by the other candidates. I conclude this speech with a line from Bush's speech with which I am in complete agreement. "The liberty we prize is not America's gift to the world, it is God's gift to humanity."
This has been published in the book PEACE OR BUST. For ordering information, please click here.