Saturday, April 30, 2005

More Trees Less Bush

I watched some of the President’s news conference the other night. He’s such an effacing, aw shucks kind of guy that it’s hard, preliminarily, not to like him. He’s sort of a doofus and it’s right there that it gets dangerous. He’s easy to like and while he’s slapping you on the back he’s got his hand in your wallet and he’s leading you to the brink of disaster.

This Social Security thing; on TV he’s challenging the Democrats to come up with a plan. The Republicans, he said, have a plan, they’re the party of preparation. Well, I read in the Boston Globe today that the plan he’s putting forth to the American public is one that he’s just recently grasped at – like literally a week ago. He knew he needed something to tell America about how he’s going to “change” Social Security and so he eventually found something. It wasn’t him, his advisors or his political party that came up with the idea. They found it in an article in the Washington Post. “Hey, that sounds good. Let’s use it.” That sure demonstrated a lot of forethought and academic thinking.

At least now people know that if you’re in what is considered the middle class, you’ll get fewer benefits; if you’re really poor you’ll continue to get just enough to maybe keep you alive and if you’re rich you still won’t have to care. What bugs me is that he’s completely lying about the insolvency of the Social Security system and his desire to fix it. The only folks who would benefit under his “reform” are the Wall Street brokers, the only ones - and they are the ones who are really targeted in his plan - targeted to get the American public’s money, every last one of us.

Everyone who is even remotely aware of the stock market knows that there’s no such thing as a sure thing on Wall St. In fact, I’ve always been told not to invest unless I’m willing and able to lose my money. Don’t invest in the stock market unless you can afford to live without the money you’ve invested. The stock market goes up and down; sometimes people lose it all, sometimes they make out. But generally, only the already rich get richer. If you have it and you can afford to lose it, then you can also afford to give it away and so you don’t care either way.

But, just as in the legal system in which the only people who make out are the lawyers, on Wall St. the only ones who make out for sure are the investment brokers. You could lose your entire life savings on a bad investment; however, the investment broker you gave your money to will still get his share. And Bush wants me to give them the only income I’ll have in old age.

Recently I’ve been studying up on the Medicare Modernization Act. That’s not its full name but it’s a fool’s game. This is another Bush program in which the Americans who need it the most are going to suffer. In this game, the only people who make out are the pharmaceutical companies. On January 1, 2006, the Act goes into effect. I won’t try to get too technical here, but just know, for example, that if you are a retiree and you get a pension but need to supplement your income with Social Security and you also have to take a bunch of drugs for your health and so you are in the Medicare system, you are going to find that this program will take your money and give you a whole lot less than you had before. Now I could be wrong, but I don’t think I am, but my belief is that things are going to get very ugly for America’s senior citizens, poor folk and people with disabilities. It may well come down to the choice being, for Americans who need to use Medicare, whether to use their limited income to purchase drugs off of a limited menu to keep them alive or to eat.

It might be a good idea to invest your Social Security money in pharmaceutical stock and the stocks of the dog and cat food manufacturers. Trading futures in the stocks of the funeral industry might be a good move, too.

I was also reading about Bush’s plan to dismantle the Rehabilitative Services Administration (RSA). The former director of RSA, Joanne Wilson, quit several months ago. She accused the Bush Administration of quietly moving to get rid of the whole agency. Recently I learned that the Bush Administration has eliminated the RSA regional offices and is planning to consolidate the agency into some other, yet to be determined, federal agency. While we in the disability community always debated about the wisdom of the state agencies that received RSA money, we always knew that they were trying to find jobs at competitive wages for folks with disabilities. People with disabilities who received services through the state agencies were able to get needed education, training, durable medical equipment, and other goods and services that allowed them to go to work. Then they could become taxpayers instead of tax burdens.

Now, with the dismantling of RSA, the money that would have been going to invest in the American people can go to someplace where it’s really needed – like to continue to support the war in Iraq – and wherever America needs to be next to spread the voice of freedom and democracy across the world and God Bless ‘Em Real Good for doing that.

One irony of this whole war thing is that Bush has cut benefits and services to vets who have been wounded in the war. Think about that for a while while thinking about what I’ve written about so far.

Then we get to the Terry Schaivo case. If there’s one good thing that’s come out of her death it’s that everyone’s now aware of the need to consider having a living will and a health proxy. I have one that I made with my sister prior to my going to South America. It wasn’t because of Terry’s situation that I did it but I’m glad I have one. The shame about the whole Schaivo thing is how the Bush Administration jumped on it to further their cause of Right to Life. They didn’t care about Terry and her family and her husband and what he did or didn’t do or might have done, the Bush Administration’s whole issue was to promote their Christian Conservative views on America. No, their whole issue was not really to promote their views; rather, it was to shove them down America’s throats, like it or not.

I read recently that in the states where the abstinence only programs have been instituted is where the highest instances of teenage pregnancy occur. In addition, in those states that are the most fervently against same sex marriage are where the highest instances of divorce are. And, in those states that support the No Child Left Behind program, have, guess what, the highest rates of school dropout and lowest rates of literacy.

What are these people thinking?

Bush and his Administration, and his supporters, are very scary and they are taking America down a road that is heading toward the apocalypse. America is becoming a two class society – the middle class has all but evaporated; the democratic values of America have been seriously eroded. I believe we are heading into a depression. I only hope that America wakes up and smells the garbage we’re being force fed.

We may well be living in a dictatorship under an oppressive government that is telling us that they are the voice of freedom and choice. What the Bush Administration is doing in the other countries in which their hands are in is almost not as bad as what they are doing to us here at home. The hardest thing to swallow about all of this is that they truly believe that what they are doing is best for the country. That is what makes it so scary, for all of us – Christian, Muslim, Jew, Agnostic, Atheist, black, white, yellow, red, straight, gay, young and old.

This is a time in which our environment is eroding, our social services are eroding, our principles and our lives are being compromised. Trees, on the other hand, clean the air, provide life to birds and support the very fabric of life. Trees are the symbol of strength, of courage and freedom, and of growth. Trees are the voice of the future.

We need more trees and less Bush.


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