The Healing a Divided America Act: Shocked and saddened by the divisive nature of the recent Presidential campaign, President Bush will attempt to reach out to and pacify the two warring cultures in our country. Accordingly, a twenty-foot-high concrete security wall, topped by electrified razor wire, will be constructed as a barrier between blue states and red. Democrats and Republicans will have thirty days to relocate to blue states and red states, respectively, or else they will be placed in attractive government relocation camps for their own safety and comfort.
The Deficit Reduction Act: To raise the funds necessary to cut the deficit in half, a few federal institutions will be sold, privatized, and renamed, the way sports stadiums are; e.g., the Rupert Murdoch Treasury Department and Mint; the Smith & Wesson Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; the Pfizer Food and Drug Administration; the Halliburton Pentagon; the Enron Department of Correctional Facilities; the House of Saud House of Representatives.
This is one of my favorites.:
The Tax Simplification Act: Beginning in 2005, all taxpayers in the top one-per-cent income bracket will pay a flat one-per-cent tax, taxpayers in the top two-per-cent bracket will pay a flat two-per-cent tax, and so on.
The Keeping Our Young People Out of Harm’s Way Act: All young persons age eighteen or over will be placed out of harm’s way in training facilities where they will be issued M-16 rifles and taught how to defend themselves in the event of an attack from a hostile power, or, if the country is not attacked, how to defend themselves when dropped off in countries desperately in need of regime change.
Not much change here:
The Equality in Education Act: In an effort to create equal opportunity for students of all capabilities, educational goals will be readjusted: A and B students will henceforth be characterized as snobbish overachievers. C students will receive scholarships to élite schools, since it is they who have the best chance to grow up to be President. And D students will be encouraged to excel by successfully spinning their failures, creating diversionary issues, and impugning the moral values of their teachers.
And of course:
The Separation of Church and State Act: There will be no separation of church and state.
NPR, the Guardian, the Houston Chronicle and other media are reporting that charges against Sears, Roebuck are being dropped in return for Sears' cooperation in an investigation of illegal campaign contributions allegedly accepted by Tom DeLay's political action committee. So far the investigation hasn't been able to link DeLay directly to this illegal activity.
Many of us who live in Texas have been waiting and hoping that one of the contributors will agree to cooperate, very possibly increasing the chances of nabbing DeLay for his participation in one of many illegal activities related to redistricting and campaigning. Here's an excerpt from the Guardian's report:
Three associates of DeLay also have been indicted in the ongoing investigation, but the lawmaker himself has not been.
``We're certainly delighted with the dismissal in that we had maintained all along that we had not done anything illegal. We're very pleased to put this past us,'' said Robert J. O'Leary, a Sears senior vice president.
The agreement says Sears will cooperate with Texas ``in its prosecution and investigation of any other person for any offense related to the corporate contribution'' that Sears made. O'Leary said Sears also will give $100,000 to the University of Texas for a campaign finance law awareness program.
The retailer also will provide public access and disclose corporate contributions on the company Web site.
Travis County grand juries have spent two years investigating contributions in the 2002 legislative campaigns. The election resulted in the first Republican majority in the Texas Legislature in modern times.
Ayn Rand institute says US aid to disaster victims is wrong, though private charity "may be entirely proper, especially considering that most of those affected by this tragedy are suffering through no fault of their own." (emphasis added)
I'm waiting to hear about the minority of victims suffering because of self-inflicted tsunami damage.
I think Marshall is being naive here. We know -- particularly if we've lived through the Reagan Revolution -- that most people are to blame for their misfortunes. Why should tsunami victims get off the hook? An added consideration might be whether most of the victims were not, unfortunately, born again and were therefore sinners of the worst kind.
But Holcberg goes a long way beyond intimating that some may have brought the disaster on themselves. He questions the whole notion of altruism and points out (very helpfully, for our budgets in the new year) that we are stepping over the line. We are condoning extortion:
The United States government, however, should not give any money to help the tsunami victims. Why? Because the money is not the government's to give.
Every cent the government spends comes from taxation. Every dollar the government hands out as foreign aid has to be extorted from an American taxpayer first.
Interesting point. He continues:
Year after year, for decades, the government has forced American taxpayers to provide foreign aid to every type of natural or man-made disaster on the face of the earth: from the Marshall Plan to reconstruct a war-ravaged Europe to the $15 billion recently promised to fight AIDS in Africa to the countless amounts spent to help the victims of earthquakes, fires and floods--from South America to Asia. Even the enemies of the United States were given money extorted from American taxpayers: from the billions given away by Clinton to help the starving North Koreans to the billions given away by Bush to help the blood-thirsty Palestinians under Arafat's murderous regime.
The question no one asks about our politicians' "generosity" towards the world's needy is: By what right? By what right do they take our hard-earned money and give it away?
An appealing argument because the government gets up my nose most of the time, too. But I suppose an argument might be that they are our elected representatives and just as they can decide (in spite of the opposition of half of America) to invade other countries illegally, they can also hand over an amount slightly less than the cost of a presidential inauguration to help the families of those who may have induced a tsunami to carry them off. (Yes, yes. I know the inauguration ceremonies are being paid for by Republican supporters, but we know where they got their money from, don't we! From us! And often by means even less legal than those used by the IRS.)
But here is where Mr. Holcberg really warms to his subject:
The reason politicians can get away with doling out money that they have no right to and that does not belong to them is that they have the morality of altruism on their side. According to altruism--the morality that most Americans accept and that politicians exploit for all it's worth--those who have more have the moral obligation to help those who have less. This is why Americans--the wealthiest people on earth--are expected to sacrifice (voluntarily or by force) the wealth they have earned to provide for the needs of those who did not earn it. It is Americans' acceptance of altruism that renders them morally impotent to protest against the confiscation and distribution of their wealth. It is past time to question--and to reject--such a vicious morality that demands that we sacrifice our values instead of holding on to them.
By god, that's worth thinking about. There is a small point here, however, which I'd have to agree with. Don't allow politicians (in this case, George W. Bush) to accept the credit for donating your money.
Next time a politician gives away money taken from you to show what a good, compassionate altruist he is, ask yourself: By what right?
By the way, I just checked. Yes, the Ayn Rand Institute is a 501(c)(3) organization which means it:
In Indonesia, where the situation is the most desperate, there is evidence of bureaucracy (military, at least) getting in the way of delivering aid. An Australian plane, laden with goods, came into the airport, was greeted by an Indonesian general who said he was not yet empowered to have a conversation which would lead to receiving and distributing the aid. The Australian military plane was forced to take off -- encouraged to return 24 hours later -- even though they'd offered to do all the unloading. 24 hours is a lot of hours if you're suffering, dehydrating, bleeding, desperate.
This story was on NPR's All Things Considered this afternoon.
Sukabi, at All Spin Zone, has posted a really helpful list of actions which can be taken to uncover fraud in Ohio, Florida, New Mexico and elsewhere, and to urge Senators and Representatives to contest the vote before the cut-off date of January 6.
This is not about throwing a particular candidate out of office. This is about making damn sure we know what happened in this election in order to prevent a recurrence in 2006, 2008, and beyond.
It's time to be noisy folks. Get your Senator to contest AND investigate the vote. No more of the hacked up legislation like HAVA - which enabled more unverifiable voting to occur in the form of Diebold, ESS, Sequoia, TriAd, ect. "vote technology". It's time for actual standards to be employed, and a truly non-partisan, auditable, transparent voting system to be implemented.
To which I'd add: We are going to go into the Congressional elections of 2006 and most probably the Presidential election of 2008 with a fraudulent election system embedded in our dying democracy. Take a look at the links Sukabi has provided.
No more passing these investigations off as "tinfoil hat complaints." It's no-kidding-around time if we want real elections in America.
UPDATE: There are some interesting letters in today's (December 31) New York Times on this issue. See them here.