The Age of Treason

Just who is selling America out?

IF WE HAVE TO POUR $87 billion dollars into every crap hole that sponsors terrorism, we're screwed.

The America we live in is being destroyed from within before our very eyes. Such thoughts are treasonous, according to Donald Rumsfeld, who suggested on Monday, Sept. 8, that any criticism of the administration's war efforts amounted to aid and comfort to the enemy.

So, the 54 percent of Americans who gave Bush a negative rating in the new Zogby poll? Well, you're all just a bunch of Hanoi Janes and Baghdad Jims.

Of course, as is usual with Bush pronouncements, the reverse is more true. How could the enemy not be comforted by Bush's own policies? America bogged down in a Middle Eastern quagmire and pouring blood and treasure down a rat hole, how sweet.

But it goes beyond Iraq. Our nation is pursuing global policies that are eroding the American way of life in order to increase the profits of the few, the proud, and the multinational. So-called free trade is draining this country of jobsespecially living-wage manufacturing jobs. Nearly 3 million such jobs have been lost in the last three years. America cannot finance the development of the rest of the world. Nor, as we're finding out, can our military police it. Our future "prosperity" seems contingent on a major downsizing of the lifestyles and expectations of the American middle and working classes, by design.

The original American ideal was that immigrants came here because they couldn't make it at home. We were the land of opportunity. Now, we're strip-mining American opportunity and shipping it overseas. We're tightening the borders to keep immigrants out, then sending them our jobs.

How generous. How imbecilic.

Now, we're being asked to ship countless billions of our hard-earned money to rebuild woefully mismanaged countries. We used to bail out Chrysler. Now we're bailing out the Iraqis and the Afghanis. We've put nation building on steroids. As we're shipping jobs to India and Mexico, we're also being asked to dump our taxes into rebuilding the infrastructure of Third World countries where even $87 billion is a drop in the bucket. And it will likely be more than that and still insufficient. Which might be fine if we had money to throw around. But if we're going to spend that kind of cash, let's do it at home to modernize the electric grid, rebuild our highways and water systems, restore the environment, and invest in domestic security. And what about remaking and retrofitting American industry?

But such ideas would mean questioning our Iraq policy, and that is treason.

WE LEARNED the hard way under Lyndon Johnson's Great Society that we couldn't fund a major war abroad and spend wildly on domestic programs. The current Texan in the White House has put a different spin on this by spending wildly abroad and cutting revenues. The Bush plan is worse than LBJ's because it balloons national debt while the benefits accrue only to non-Americans and a few multinational corporations. What will it cost to make this Iraq or the next Iraq a fail-safe, terror-proof country?

I don't know, but there's no treasury on the planet that's big enough.

In the meantime, America is being fundamentally altered. Instead of domestic investment, we're being indentured to endless debt. We're in hock to the company store. We've slowly watched as the one-income family became obsolete; now we're not only watching retirement funds disappear, but the whole concept of retirement is becoming obsolete (who can afford it?). While Bush expands government spending, he's also undercutting some of the basic institutions that provide public benefitlike seeking to privatize the running of our national parks. The only government programs he seems to like are those that benefit the rich and powerful, which is why our tax money flows to Iraq through the military, Halliburton, and Bechtel.

HOW DOES THIS make America safer? How does this make America more prosperous? How is democracy strengthened anywhere if we whittle away at America's foundations?

Bush speaks to us and says he is trying to save civilizationand that is worth any price. But Islamic terrorism is only one ugly bump in civilization's road. Chase the enemy, yes. Hunt down the killers and kill them, yes. Defend our borders, yes. Act as a global citizen and leader, yes.

But civilization is not aided by a weaker America, one that is squandering its fortunes and opportunity for its own citizens. Civilization is not aided by putting the political and economic interests of the few ahead of the many. Civilization is not furthered by attempting to build a world in our image. That is a global narcissist's dream, and there is no peace in that.

kberger@seattleweekly.com

 
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