Corruption and Chaos
December 3, 2002
By Bob Volpitto
Historians characterize Franklin D. Roosevelt's first eight
years of his presidency as divided into three parts: Relief,
Recovery and Reform. Contemporary historians will divide George
W. Bush's first two years in the Oval Office also into three
parts — Confusion, Corruption and Chaos.
In pre-911 America, Bush found himself sinking into a morass
of confusion. He and his administration found themselves in
the beginning throes of a faltering economy. (Which, of course,
they determined was due to the policies of the late Clinton/Gore
The Dow Jones Industrial average began its slow but ominous
downward spiral from a lofty 11,000 points. Tech stocks followed
suit, tumbling from an equally lofty 5,000 high water mark.
Unemployment began to rise, industrial production dropped,
consumer confidence began to erode. Retail sales and construction
began to slump despite Alan Greenspan's first of 12 prime
These rate cuts, by the way, have done little more than encourage
credit sales and refinancing of home mortgages. Thus followed
the largest rise in bankruptcies in the past 30 years. Blind-sided
optimists point enthusiastically to economic stagnation as
signs of recovery, smiling broadly as once bulging inventories
shrink and are not replaced.
Corporate corruption was next.
Sometime shortly prior to 9/11 and briefly after that fateful
day when terrorists transformed a floundering presidency into
a patriotic symbol diminished in stature only by the Statue
of Liberty, signs of corporate corruption began to emerge.
Still Bush was riding high. Given a slicker, a bullhorn and
a firefighter to lean on, Boy George, with the help of a captive
media, was morphed from a confused and rapidly depreciating
head of state into an unblemished emblem of strength, purity
and virtue that represented true leadership to a wronged nation.
Soon, however, the ugly heads of corporate evildoers began
to peek over the horizon. The Enron disgrace was followed
by the demise of WorldCom. Then came Tyco, the banking, accounting
and investment mini-scandals. Bush and Cheney denied having
even minor roles in the widely spreading corporate scandals
despite the storm that broke over their heads in the form
of Harken Energy and Halliburton.
Collusion also played a part. The American People vs. Dick
Cheney remains stalled in litigation as Bush's second-in-command
refuses to divulge how he arrived at his disputed energy program.
Sadly, a number of Democratic senators and Congressmen cry
"mea culpa" and quiver in the shadows of Bush and Cheney,
fearful of being caught in the same entangling web of corruption.
Did those 19 terrorists who drove commercial passenger jets
into the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center, into the Pentagon
and caused a fourth to crash somewhat mysteriously into the
ground in western Pennsylvania know the ramifications of their
cruel deeds? Did they know they were to be the catalyst that
shaped the destiny of the United States into a form of a corporate-owned
military-controlled dictatorship? Did they realize the collateral
damage they were doing to those who stood ready to replace
the incompetent Bush and his crowd of corrupt amateurs?
Now we live in a community of chaos.
We exist in the fear that our most sacred private actions,
the very heart of our once proud democracy, are about to be
an open book to a convicted felon named Admiral John Poindexter,
a disgrace to his uniform, who will hand our privacy over
to a mind-warped Attorney General named John Ashcroft. This
fear will breed future chaos much as it was envisioned by
George Orwell in his prophetic work: "1984." (Despite Poindexter's
criminal past, George Bush characterizes him as one "who served
his country well.")
The creation of a Department of Homeland Security will so
totally confuse our bureaucracy that it will become little
more than 170,000 career government employees too worried
about their jobs and eventual retirements to perform their
tasks efficiently. The current Bush estimate is that it will
take two years to complete the work of reorganizing 20 or
more government agencies into the DHS with the proved incompetent
Tom Ridge as its stumble- bumbling head. With the sure-to-come
interdepartmental squabbling I'd guess it will consume five
to ten years to complete the task, if not more.
The ensuing chaos resulting from over zealous "uniters and
dividers" will invite more terrorist attacks. Take lessons
from history. Pre-World War II France was so hopelessly disorganized,
corrupt and politically divided she was unable to mobilize
an adequate defense against the crushing onslaught of a German
blitzkrieg. Nazi Germany, too, suffered from bureaucratic
chaos, bringing it to its ultimate defeat. ("Jews pray to
God, Germans pray to paper," was a line spoken by Eli Wallach
in the made for TV movie "The Wall".) The Soviet Union fell
of its own top weight with politicians contending, even killing,
for power and position to the detriment of the people they
were supposed to serve. Risking a pun, there was also just
too much "red" tape in the Soviet bureaucracy. In all three
cases confusion, corruption and chaos doomed the central government.
So it will in the United States under Bush.
Calamity lies ahead.
Look no further back in history to the regime of Phillip
II of Spain. His excessive military budget bankrupted that
once proud and mighty Iberian nation. His ventures into empire
building via the war route, like Bush's, brought his nation
to economic ruin from which it never fully recovered.
Nothing exists in a vacuum. When Philip's Spain fell, England
and France replaced it. When Bush's America falls from its
dominate slot China will become the world's next and only
superpower. Does this sound like a radical conclusion? Wait
Nazi Germany's Adolf Hitler, Fascist Italy's Benito Mussolini
and Emperor Hirohito of Japan strove to construct invincible
military forces that would be capable of conquering their
neighbors and extending their spheres of influence around
the globe. All failed but all tried to dominate other nations
by force of arms just as the current U. S. administration
is attempting to do today. Will we face a calamity no less
severe as did those three tyrants? I suspect we will.
That enormously bloated $400,000,000,000-plus annual war
budget coupled with tax relief for the affluent 1% of taxpayers
added to the demise of the Federal Estate Tax combined with
free reins given to corporations and the military will sink
this country's economy beyond all hope of recovery. The fiscal
policies of the Bush Administration, aided by an all too eager
to please GOP controlled House and Senate, will lead us further
away from national solvency until we become the mirror image
of Spain's Philip II.
Further calamities are seen in Bush's obvious attempts to
wipe out the environment, to circumvent corporate regulations,
eventually to destroy the existence of the middle class and
promote a militarily enforced government run by an oligarchy
that counts among its core adherents fanatical theocrats.
Facing this certain and unhappy future, I am reminded of
the title of a book written by President Theodore Roosevelt
— Where Are We Heading? He may have wondered, but you
and I know.
Bob Volpitto is a retired weekly newspaper owner/publisher
now living in the Southwest. He is also a liberal Democrat
and damn proud of it.