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Confusion, 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 Administration.)

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 rate cuts.

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.

Came 911.

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 and see.

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.

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