Democratic Underground

Would We Have Won World War II if We Had Behaved This Way?
October 16, 2001
By Dave Conroy

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I am way too young to have direct memories of WWII. I am a student of history though and believe I have some idea of what went on. To be perfectly fair even though we lost fewer people at Pearl Harbor than we lost on September 11, the effort required to defeat Hitler and Hirohito makes the effort that will be required to defeat Osama look lame. That said, sacrifice will be required.

I have no problem with some sacrifices being made to defeat Bin Laden. For some amount of time, it makes sense to spend into Social Security to pay for this war and other needed things. We will need to pay to upgrade our public health and public security systems. We will need to rebuild New York. We will need to pay for armed marshals on our planes. These things will not be cheap. They are not the equilvalent of the Manhatten project or rebuilding our navy but they are not chump change.

The problem I have is that it seems the wealthy and well connected are not expected to do a thing. The behind the scenes story of the passage of the airline bailout is as sick as it is sad. Even with every plane grounded in the entire country the very first though of the airline executives was to get as much money as possible from the government. The government gave them more than they had asked for. They got a total of $15 billion. They even had the audacity to threaten a Texas Congressman with layoffs in his district for his daring to demand debate. They did the layoffs anyway.

The airlines have laidoff over 300,000 workers. As this is being written only one executive, the Chairman of Continental Airlines, gave back any of the millions in compensation they have recieved. As this is being written 44 Senators, all Republicans, have filibustered a bill providing a modest $1.9 billion in aid to those workers. I guess we know who is intended to sacrifice for this war effort.

The House is currently debate abstinence only in sex education. No you are not misreading this. The Senate passed a bill 100-0 to federalize the security at airports and the House is debating abstinence. Don't get me wrong, I know abstinence, I experience abstinence, abstinence is my friend. But abstinence is not going to save us on planes. It also will not cure anthrax. Why is the House debating abstinence? Because Tom Delay does not have the votes to prevent the federalizing of air security. The wacko right wing that runs our Congress hate government so much that even now they see no need for this.

Can you imagine a private Manhatten project? A call for the states to rebuild our navy? Of course not. If the people in charge of Congress can not see the need for a federal role now, they are hopeless. These are the same people who refuse to help the workers because that is not the American way.

As this is being written we hear that a high ranking official of the FAA quit because he refused to divert marshals from risky flights that did not have Cabinet officials to less risky flights which did. Also the President is taking yet another vacation at Camp David. Can anyone imagine Roosevelt taking weeks off at a time? Can we imagine him going to Camp David for D Day? During WWII King George and Queen Elizabeth, now Queen Mother Elizabeth, were told to leave Buckinham Palace. They refused despite bombs falling in their front yards. Princess Elizabeth, now Queen Elizabeth, toured the East End which had been heavily hit.

During WWII the highest tax rate was 90%. Now it is 39% and due to fall. There is talk of speeding up the decline of that rate. Can we imagine a tax cut for the rich being proposed during WWII? The estate tax repeal may also be speeded up. The alternate minimum tax on corporations, not individuals, may be repealed.

These are all supposed to help the economy. Does anyone think people will die sooner if there is no estate tax? We could return to the days when profitable corporations pay no taxes.

The message of all of the above is that sacrifice is for suckers. If you are rich and well connected you do not have to pay for this war. If you own an airline you don't have to lose any income. If you own an investment company whose customers have lost billions you can cash out. If you are a Republican Congressman or Cabinet member you can have a marshal on your plane but we can't even have competent screeners.

I am not calling for rationing. But I think it is not too much to ask that the wealthy and powerful at least not get handouts. They should at least pay their share. Their grandparents did.