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Remember Barack Obama’s inauguration? An enormous number of people turned out to see the new President who had promised to save the nation. It was like the second coming of Abraham Lincoln, and after the devastation that had been wrought upon the country by George Bush’s inability to understand economics and the government’s  complete lack of oversight of the financial industry, people were breathing a sigh of relief that this new, stunning speech-maker had the vision, boldness, and determination to do whatever was needed to save the sinking ship. Unfortunately, we found out that the man who had been put upon a pedestal had feet of clay after all, and his greatest gift was sadly, speech-making. Remember the promise to close Guantanamo? We don’t hear much about that anymore, do we? Well, what about the economy? He fixed that didn’t he? I suppose, at least he stopped the car from going over the cliff – something George Bush could not do. But he ignored the advice of Nobel Prize winning economist, Paul Krugman and instead listened to Timothy  Geithner and Larry Summers, both of whom were part of the problem, because it was the policies of these people, and others, that directly led to the economic catastrophe. The result has been a tepid “recovery”, if you can call it that. 

And then there are the new rules about the government now having the power to arrest and detain indefinitely any U.S. citizen who it suspects might be a threat to the country. And – it is the military who will detain you indefinitely, without trial or any other rights guaranteed to all citizens under the Constitution. And Congress looks the other way. And the Supreme Court looks the other way. And everyone else goes back to watching football or baseball, soon forgetting all about these new, un-Constitutional rules. But the U.S. government hasn’t forgotten, and Barack Obama hasn’t forgotten.

Sure ,Obama has created a sort of National Health Care system – nothing that could compare with those of Canada or Europe or Asia, but he got what he wanted: the elimination of the possibility of being rejected for health insurance because of a pre-existing condition. I guess it was because his Obama’s mother had such difficulties with that issue that he wanted to make sure that U.S. insurance companies couldn’t do that to someone else’s mother or child. 

OK. So, Barack, is that it? Are you done? You seem to think the economy is OK. I don’t hear much more about health care reform. You nailed Osama bin Laden, you left Iraq, and you are about to leave Afghanistan. So….any other ideas? I was just wondering, how are you going to get unemployment down to a number like 6%? Is there a plan or do we just punt? By the way, how are things at Guantanamo? Oh, and can Americans who are picked by the Army be imprisoned there now? Or do they go to some secret military prison, never to be heard from again? I think it’s time for another speech.

And then there’s Romney. The father of Obamacare, he now vigorously denies being the parent of this odious thing that is the object of Republican loathing and retching. But he is. And he thought it was a good thing too. So, what is Romney’s plan – other than, “let’s not tax the job creators”. That would be him and his cronies, I suppose. Here’s the thing I don’t get: if Bain Capital takes over a company and makes it prosperous by outsourcing its jobs to China or India, how many U.S. jobs are they creating? Or, when he says he’s creating jobs, is he including all those jobs in China and India too? Here’s another thing I’m not too sure of: do the “job creators” really use their personal income to create jobs for other people? I mean, let’s say you work at Bank of America – that would be a good job, right? So, did you get that job because the President and CEO of Bank of America opened up his wallet and paid you a salary? That would be really generous, wouldn’t it? But, I thought they used the money from investors to create the jobs – you know like when you buy BoA stock, then they take your money (thank you very much) and they hire people. And if the Bank doesn’t do well their stock goes down and you lose your money. But the job-creating President and CEO still gets his mega-million dollar salary, doesn’t he? And my man Mitt wants the President and CEO to pay almost no taxes because he “created” your job. Awww…isn’t that special? I guess that how our Capitalist system works, right?

Actually, it doesn’t work quite the way Mitty would like you to believe. Basically, he just wants the rich folk, who already own the Congress and the Supreme Court to also own the Presidency. The really interesting thing is that about half the American people seem to want that too. Not sure why…wouldn’t it just be easier to have a king and get rid of the sham democracy? And Barack, well he just wants to be President – not too sure why, he doesn’t seem to have any ideas about what to do. He hasn’t mentioned a new scientific leap forward like the space program that John Kennedy started.  He hasn’t mentioned anything of the magnitude like the Interstate Highway System like Eisenhower started.  He hasn’t mentioned anything like the Great Society and Civil Rights for all that Johnson started – oops, sorry, that one really bothered the Southern half of the country, didn’t it? Remember Johnson saying that he thought he had just turned the solidly Democratic South to becoming a Republican voting block? Well, ol’ Lyndon was right about that, wasn’t he? Being a Texan, he would know, too.

Anyway, Obama seems plumb out of ideas, now that his single idea of “no pre-existing conditions” has been enacted. I guess he’s just exhausted. And Romney, the opportunist, venture capitalist? Ahh, no ideas there either! At least he’s not talking about any…. Of course not, those venture guys aren’t going to share their secret plans with you or me – at least not the real plans.

So where are we? Obama did a lot of things we never expected and didn’t do a lot of things we expected. We can probably expect the same from Romney – so, it really doesn’t matter which is elected because they will wind up just doing whatever they want anyway – which will have little to no relation to their campaign promises.

So, wouldn’t it be simpler to just have a king?

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Today, South Carolina voters will decide who they think should be the Republican nominee for President of the United States. Recent polls indicate that he is currently in the lead – and South Carolina has a history of picking the eventual Republican Presidential candidate! Let’s suppose Newt not only wins the primary but also becomes the Republican Party candidate and eventually becomes President. Should we care? Would he really be all that different from Barack Obama, a man who is perhaps the greatest disappointment to liberals in recent history? After all, didn’t Obama appoint Geithner and Summers as his principal financial people, and weren’t they part of the team that caused the financial catastrophe under Bush? Didn’t Obama just sign legislation that says American citizens can be imprisoned by the Army without trial indefinitely because someone suspects they might be guilty of a crime? Hasn’t Obama pretty much followed the Republican agenda of George Bush? So – what difference would it make if a Republican named Gingrich became President? Wouldn’t it just be more of the same – no real change no matter who we vote for?

No. This time it would be different. Gingrich would lead us down a path to Hell with no return. I’m not talking about his lack of morality because he is now on wife #3. Sure, he lacks the morality of most American citizens with regard to sexuality and loyalty to one another. But maybe his wife switching wasn’t just due to an over active libido. Maybe he just has a habit of making really bad decisions – like if you buy a car that was made in France, for example. OK. I admit it. Being on wife #3 and probably on the lookout for wife #4 is a bad sign. It’s a sign that says he has an issue with loyalty, or maybe he has an insatiable sex drive, or maybe he doesn’t choose the right person for the job most of the time. Something like that, maybe. True, these are all disturbing thoughts and should be taken into consideration.

However, there is something even more disturbing about this Newt (what an amazingly appropriate name – sorry, I just have to say it…).  It is the things he says that makes me wonder if he has ever studied history, and if so, was if the Cliff’s Notes version in college? It seems as if he has missed entire segments of the past and the lessons learned from a vast amount of human suffering. Even worse, he is blind to his own ignorance, spouting off in puffed up grandiosity, holding forth like he is Pythagoras or Socrates himself as he talks about abolishing the child labor laws. Either Newt doesn’t know why we have these laws, or he thinks that the American population is as ignorant as he seems to be. The simple fact is this: the laws were a necessity to protect children, as young as 7 or 8 years old, or even younger, from working endless hours in mills full of dangerous dust and grime. Children worked with the large knitting and other machines because their small fingers could fit into parts of the machines that adults could not reach. Children worked in these mills – similar to the ‘dark Satanic mills” of England, famously referred to by William Blake in his poem, Jerusalem – until about a century ago when people with far more intelligence that Newt Gingrich outlawed this abuse of defenseless children in both England and the United States.

Now, this extraordinarily ignorant and selfish man wants to be President of the United States. And the people of South Carolina seem likely to vote for him. Are the people of South Carolina as incredibly dumb as Newt thinks they are? We shall soon find out. And if he is right, we may well next learn something about the intelligence of the average American. After all, they voted for George Bush, probably the stupidest man to ever be President (so far) – a man who nearly destroyed the country with his insane financial policies. Could Newt be more dangerous than W? Yes, because he truly believes in the exploitation of innocent children and cares nothing for their welfare or safety.

He is a real and present danger to the next generation of Americans: the small and innocent children of the land. And there is nothing more dangerous to America than that.

 

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Perhaps it was inevitable. After all, even the greatest of empires such as the Roman Empire or the British Empire – upon whose lands the sun never set – eventually collapsed. Their laws, values, and customs disintegrated as the people of the empire no longer cared enough to fight for them – as their ancestors had. Now the United States of America, an unacknowledged empire, but one nonetheless, is beginning to crumble, bit by bit. The barbarians are at the gates, held back only by a mostly mercenary army, lured into military service by steady wages, health and education benefits, college education benefits, and the promise of a secure, paid retirement. Meanwhile, the common people lead their lives as consumers of industrial agriculture, imported energy, and the goods of foreign lands. It is not the America envisioned by its founders; indeed, it is far from it. Gone are the citizen soldiers, the Minutemen. Gone are the self-sufficient family farms. Gone is the town meeting form of government where the citizens of a town met and agreed upon the town’s budget (except for a few anachronisms in New England). Now, an insidious erosion of American justice is underway, and as in the corruption of our economic system, the transformation of our military into a paid professional force, and export of American jobs to overseas sources of cheap labor and materials, the American people once again simply turn over on their sofas and click their remotes to see what is on the other channels.

However, this time it is different. This time, changes are happening that can undermine the very foundation of America and its ideals. The nation is threatened, not from external enemies, but from within. It didn’t begin today or yesterday. It started in earnest perhaps with the administration of George W Bush, although its roots go back at least to Ronald Reagan and the insidious replacement of pension plans with 401k accounts. It was the attacks on 9/11 that opened the doors of opportunity for Bush and Cheney, certainly the most despicable people to ever lead our government. Using the excuse of the necessities of war Bush and Cheney obliterated the rights of citizens to have private conversations without the government eavesdropping on their every word without a court order. Using the excuse that the country was in dire danger – more so that the threats that had come in a previous era  from Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan – Bush and Cheney developed a consistent policy of torturing prisoners, and in doing so became neo-Nazis themselves. These two individuals, entirely bereft of America’s sacred ideals, established a policy of indefinite confinement without trial for suspected terrorists, i.e. people who the U.S. government thought might be guilty – but for whom they had no proof of guilt. It was not a reasonable or sane policy. It is a senseless, literally insane policy, worthy only of a scene from Alice in Wonderland, “Sentence first – verdict afterwards!”

When President Obama campaigned for the Presidency of the United States he promised to end the indefinite detection of suspected terrorists in Cuba and have civilian trails for these people in the United States. They would be found guilty or innocent based upon American justice. However, it seems that it became apparent that virtually none of these people would be found guilty in an American court because their was insufficient evidence to prove their guilt. Under the rules of American justice they would have to be set free. So, like George Bush, Obama agreed to indefinite imprisonment and military trials for these people in Cuba. So much for the promises of Barack Obama.

Now, President Obama has signed into law a new act of a seditious Congress that will eliminate more rights of American citizens. This law will allow the detention, by the military, of American citizens who are suspected of being terrorists. No proof required. No rights of the citizen to a fair trial by his peers. No resort to the system of American justice. Instead, we citizens of the United States of America can be imprisoned without trial indefinitely by our own military. It will happen simply by having some official say, “I think he’s a terrorist.” We are witnessing the fall of the American Empire, we are seeing the rotting from within – a cancer on the Presidency, a corruption of the Congress, and a Supreme Court that has become nothing more than the begging servant of industry. And what do we do? We turn aside, grab a can of beer, and see what else is on TV.

We are no different from the empires of Rome and Greece and Egypt and Great Britain and so many more. These all had one thing in common. The people stopped believing in their ideals, the empires collapsed from within, and the barbarians tore down the gates of the cities while a complacent people drank wine and watched the circus.

It is a sad day for America.

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I never supported the Iraq war. I believe the entire affair was no more than a vendetta instigated by George Bush against Saddam  Hussein. Perhaps it was due to Saddam’s failed assassination attempt against George Bush Senior. Who knows? It certainly wasn’t about weapons of mass destruction. Nor was it about the “War on Terror”. Whatever the reason that Bush/Cheney had for it, they waged a war that caused the loss of many American soldier’s lives. Similarly, the war in Afghanistan is also questionable. After all, nearly all of the Al Qaeda terrorists who commandeered the aircraft on September 11th were from Saudi Arabia. One might think it would have made more sense to retaliate against Saudi Arabia – Osama bin Laden’s homeland. However, in the odd workings of the Bush/Cheney mind – the mind that condoned torture of prisoners, illegal wiretaps on American citizens, and the use of trials by military tribunals for people suspected of supporting terrorists, instead of using the U.S. justice system – America freely attacked two countries without cause. (It doesn’t make sense to say that America attacked Afghanistan because they had trained Osama bin Laden because it was America that had taught the Afghans these same tactics. In essence it was almost as if America had trained Osama bin Laden.

Once the wars began, George Bush/Cheney was anxious to hide the cost of war – American war dead from the American people. Thus the war dead were brought to Dover Air Force base in secret with no news coverage. The American people were not to know the human cost of the war – George Bush had learned that lesson from the Vietnam war. He knew that by managing the news the American people could be kept under control. He didn’t need any demonstrations in the streets.

There was, however, another problem for George Bush/Cheney.  What should be done with unidentified body parts of dead soldiers? For example, suppose a young Army volunteer soldier steps on a land mine and get blown into dozens of pieces? Or what about the soldiers who are flying to a battle and their helicopter crashes and they are burned beyond recognition? Or what should Bush/Cheney do about the soldier who takes a direct hit from a mortar shell and is split into three or four pieces? Should the military hold funerals for these people? It seems that Bush/Cheney decided that wasn’t necessary because by virtue of being dismembered these young men were no longer people – they were “medical waste”. Bush/Cheney apparently decided that the best thing to do with the remaining pieces of the young volunteer soldiers was to just throw them into the dump in Virginia.

So they did. The remains – i.e. arms, legs, fingers – whatever – were simply incinerated and literally dumped into a landfill, along with the garbage. That, apparently, is what hospitals do with “medical waste”, and it seems that is what America’s volunteer soldiers had become – medical waste. A sort of road kill – that’s all. And the government didn’t bother to tell the families of the soldiers what they had done. The complete lack of honor accorded to these soldiers by the U.S. government is horrific. The treating of war dead as garbage is reminiscent of the utter lack of humanity in the Nazi concentration camps. It smacks of the depravity of Pol Pot in Cambodia. It sends a clear message of a government that has lost its soul and humanity – it has simply become a heartless killing machine caring nothing for those on whom it drops its bombs and caring just as little for American soldiers who get shredded into pieces while fighting for…for…I wonder – just what are they fighting for?

So where is the outrage from President Obama? Where are the voices of Congress? Where is the American Legion? It was a news story for a day. OK, everyone. Let’s move on to the next thing. And so it goes in today’s America. No one is accountable. The desecration of the war dead is of little to no interest to the public. Life goes on. I wonder what’s at the movies this weekend…

Bring on the bread and circuses! Ave imperator! Moritori te salutant!

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Spin it as you will, there is no denying the facts.  Massachusetts, formerly the bluest of the blue states, the champion of universal health care and mandatory health insurance for all has had a change of heart.  Scott Brown a Republican state senator has won. He has done more than just win, he won on a promise that he would vote against health care if elected to the U.S. Senate.  Who knew that the people of Massachusetts were so unhappy with their own universal health care that they would repudiate the legacy of Ted Kennedy, a man they elected to the U.S. Senate for more than 40 years? Who would have expected that Massachusetts, that most Puritanical and prudish of all the states would give a rousing affirmation for a man who posed for a nude centerfold? The home of the bean and the cod has certainly come a long way, baby.

So, one must ask, what does this portend for the fortunes of the Democrats and President Obama in particular?  Will the Dems be swept from office in November? Is Obama already a lame duck? Can Obama possibly govern when his staunchest ally in the entire country has deserted him? Et tu, Massachusetts?  It is a sad and shocking day for the Democratic Party and it must be even more so for the President.  What went wrong? Should he have listened to the Tea Party wackos?  Was Sarah Palin right?  Do the American people just want to be left alone?  What is the message of Massachusetts anyway?

OK, I suppose part of it was that Coakley screwed up when she said that Curt Shilling was a Yankee fan.  That must have lost the entire Red Sox Nation for her right there.  Could that be the explanation? This was the revenge of Red Sox fans? No…. No, it had to be something else more substantive.  Mustn’t it?  Let’s remember that Brown only had one issue he was running on, he wanted to kill health care.  In the end that has to be it.  The people of Massachusetts don’t want the Obama health care bill. Hmmm…I wonder…could it be that maybe they figure they already have their own mandatory health care, thank you very much, and they don’t want to pay for health care in the other 49 states too?  Well, that sure sounds like those flinty old Yankees of Massachusetts.  Maybe that’s it. Maybe the message of Massachusetts is this: You other 49 states are on your own down there, we’re already taking care of ourselves up here with our own mandatory health insurance program. Now that sounds like a Republican message if I ever heard one.

They say that all politics is local and it looks like Massachusetts has proven the truth of this axiom.  The question we now must ask is this: what next? Can the other 49 states go it alone on health care and write off Massachusetts?  Will President Obama decide to actually lead this country, or will he remain content to let Congress try to figure out how to proceed?  Will this Congress ever be able to get anything done at all and why is it that George Bush had no problem passing the legislation he wanted with far fewer Republican seats in the Congress than the Democrats have now?  Is this Massachusetts election result, at least in part, due to a failure of President Obama?

It sure is. It is due to a failure to lead.  The President seems to strongly favor ruling by consensus, by a majority vote. This was never one of George Bush’s failings. He just did what he wanted to do.  Illegal wiretaps? No problem. Torture prisoners? Sure. Stonewall the Congress? Why not? Lie to the U.N. about Iraq? Certainly.  Ignore the people of New Orleans while they drowned? Naturally. Turn his back on the people who were inundated by the Southeast Asain Tsunami? Absolutely. George Bush was a leader and he done got done what he wanted to git done.

So what should President Obama do about health care now? He should study George Bush. He should decide what he wants to do and then lead the fight to get it – just like George Bush. Remember George Bush was elected  (sort of ) twice. The time has come for this President to lead as a President must.  That is what the country elected him to do.  That is the real message of Massachusetts.

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Today, the national unemployment rate is at 10%.  So far, the Obama administration has spent only about $200 billion of the allocated economic stimulus money- about 1/4 of what has been appropriated. One might conclude that President Obama doesn’t have a sense of urgency about the country’s economic situation.  While the President’s attention has been turned to health care and Afghanistan, American’s have continued to lose jobs every month since he was elected – and for many months before he was elected. George Bush was equally unable to create jobs for Americans. Why?

First of all, we need to admit that the U.S. government does create a lot of jobs for Americans. About one half of our entire national budget is spent on defense. So, if you work for Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics or other defense contractors, or if you work at one of the national labs that does defense research, or if you are in the military – Uncle Sam has created your job. The problem of course is that these types of jobs do not create additional revenue. i.e. the only customer, by definition, is the U.S. government.  So the income that people receive from these jobs is sort of like taking money out of one pocket and putting it in the other – the total wealth of the country doesn’t increase – and by the way, for many people, the money to pay for these jobs is coming out of their pockets and going into the pocket of someone else. Remember – that is fully one half of all the money our government spends, and we have been doing that for many years.  It’s a big part of our economy – such as it is.

The rest of our economy is in a shambles.  We all know that.  That’s why we have been depending on a real estate Ponzi scheme to make money for us for the past several years. Now that the bubble has burst, it is pretty clear that we can’t re-inflate that particular bubble anytime soon.  We’ll have to find another way to make money for the part of the population that doesn’t feed off the defense budget.  And this is where the problem lies. This is Obama’s Dilemma.

There are many places we can turn to illustrate the roots of Obama’s Dilemma, but perhaps none are so illustrative of the problem as everybody’s favorite store: Wal-Mart.  The problem with Wal-Mart can be found in their motto: Save Money, Live Better Wal-Mart.  We all like to save money and it is difficult to find any place that sells stuff for less than Wal-Mart, but that is exactly the problem, and it started a long time ago. Next time you go to Wal-Mart see if you can find anything (except food) that carries the label “Made in USA”.

For those of us old enough to remember, we know that once upon a time television sets were made in the USA. So were refrigerators and other appliances; so were cars; so were airplanes; so were clothes; so was furniture. I guess you can see where I’m going here. We, well not exactly we – but the wealthy people who actually run this country and it’s government – found that they could make a lot more money by building stuff in China and India and Mexico and Costa Rica and Egypt and almost anywhere that much cheaper labor could be found. These “Americans” who own the multinational businesses that make our stuff exported our jobs throughout the world. While the American people played Ponzi real estate bubble, the wealthy class exported our jobs. We now live in a multinational economy but the problem is that we can’t compete because our wages are too high.  We can buy, but we can’t sell.

So, while businesses like Wal-Mart and many, many others flushed our economy down the toilet – while they made fortunes for themselves, most Americans were unaware of what was happening. Now we face a hard reality. The jobs are gone and they are not coming back. The bubble has burst and we can’t play bubble games anymore.  We are a bunch of high rollers who have spent our last few dollars and our credit is no longer any good at the banks.  We need jobs but, outside of more defense jobs, the government is unable to create anything that would have much of an effect.

So, President Obama dabbles with Green technology ideas – as if that will put ten or twenty million Americans back to work.  We have cash for clunkers and rebates for first time home buyers and other little tricks that give temporary surges.  It’s like when your car is out of gas and you add a pint of gas to the tank. It doesn’t take you very far. The question we all need to ask is this: can this thing be fixed?  The answer is no – at least not very soon.

Our wealthy “un-Americans” have enriched themselves at the expense of the entire country’s economy.  Globalization has been a boon to some Americans in the short run – but the short run is over – now we are in for a long-term disaster.  Globalization means flattening, that which is high is lowered (that’s us) and that which is low is raised (that’s China, India, and soon to be Africa).  A few of John McCain’s class will benefit but many, many more will suffer and our government has let this happen, slowly, over the past twenty to thirty years. There are many people to blame, but Obama is not one of them.  Even so, he will be blamed if he can’t solve the dilemma.

The problem is that the solution is not palatable to the wealthy, ruling class.  The solution is to scale back globalization.  The solution is to level the playing field via tariffs on imported goods so that American made goods can compete again.  Only then will there be jobs in the U.S. again.  Our economy won’t be healed until we once again build televisions and furniture here. We won’t have stability until we build quality cars in this country that compete in price with foreign-made cars. We won’t have good technical jobs in this country until we have more than one company building commercial airplanes and at least one company that builds commercial ships.

Wal-Mart is not the cause of globalization, but it is the poster child for the siren lure of cheap foreign imports. Our economy won’t be finally healed until the Mom and Pop clothing stores and hardware stores on Main Street can compete fiercely with Wal-Mart. However, that is something that is abhorrent to many, if not most, of our very wealthy Senators and Congressmen, their sycophantic lobbyists, and the hidden oligarchs of our society.

Even so, it must be done, and how to make that happen is Obama’s Dilemma.

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I suppose it might be difficult for some members of the extreme right wing to accept, but God did not invent Capitalism.  Another fact, equally hard to accept for the extreme right wing is that Jesus did not condemn Communism.  I know.  It’s hard to believe. After all, if Jesus was alive today, wouldn’t he be a Capitalist?

Of course there is the difficulty of some of the things Jesus is quoted as saying.  I am referring to expressions like, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven”. Or, “Sell all you have and follow me.”  I wish I could find a Republican extreme right wing Christian who could explain these discrepancies to me, because I just can’t figure it out. And, since the Christian right wing seems to be exclusively Republican, I figure they must know the truth about this.  Please feel free to explain this to me.

Meanwhile, I’ve been wondering.  Have you noticed in our Capitalist economic system, where everybody supposedly has an equal chance to be a millionaire, how it seems sort of like the system is sort of rigged in favor of the people who already have a lot of money?  For example, take a look at our laws on taxing estates – that’s what is left over when you die.  Under the administration of President Bush the tax on estates of less than $3.5 million was reduced to zero. Yes, zero dollars.  The wealthy can pass on their gains to their heirs and pay absolutely no tax on anything under three and a half million dollars.

What about income tax?  Surely the wealthy pay their fair share there, don’t they? Well, under President Bush’s “tax cuts” the tax on the wealthiest Americans dropped by almost 40% while the tax on the poorest Americans dropped less than 1%. Our American tax system favors the wealthy. Why? Well, for one thing who do you think writes the tax code? It surely isn’t the poor people. Senator Kerry is the richest man in the Senate, worth close to a billion dollars.  A lot of the Senators are worth many, many millions of dollars. Overall the median (not the average) net worth of U.S. Senators was $1,700,000 in 2007. For Congressmen it was $684,000.

President Obama has talked in the past about restoring the tax rates to be the same as they were under President Clinton.  At that time the wealthy paid a larger share of the country’s tax burden.  However, since his election there hasn’t been much talk about tax reform, even though one might think that recirculating some of that tax money might help to stimulate the economy.  I get the impression that Congress is not too eager to vote for a tax increase on their own pay. So the money of the wealthy just continues to sort of clot up in their bank accounts.

Here’s something to consider: the bonuses for the bankers on Wall Street are growing astronomically while everyone else’s salary is just sort of keeping up with inflation. Goldman Sachs employees will receive bonuses of about $700,000 apiece this year. How fortunate for them!  And even more so because of George Bush’s tax cuts:  they will have to pay very little tax on their bonuses. Aren’t you glad for them?

Meanwhile, average Americans are continuing to lose their homes to foreclosure.  Millions are out of work and can’t find a job.  One can only ask one question: is this right? I don’t mean in a legal sense – of course it’s legally right – the laws of our country have enabled this. The question is this: in a moral sense, is it right? The thing I find it hard to understand is how the “Christian” right – those diehard Republicans who claim to be true Christians and just love the George Bush style of government – reconcile this with the teachings of Jesus. Are we reading the same Bible here?

It’s a simple question. Are the Capitalist values of America and the resulting coagulation of wealth for a very small number of people in America, at the expense of the vast majority of people, compatible with the teachings of Jesus? A simple yes or no will do, but if anyone can explain how they truly are compatible I would love to hear the explanation.

And here’s a second question for the Republican “Christian” right: if you cannot answer my first question then why do you call yourselves Christians?  I would love to hear that answer too.

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