Looting the treasury

The Bush administration’s economic policies are tantamount to looting the national treasury. And that is not just our opinion, but what Nobel Prize winner and economist Prof. Akerlof said to the German magazine Der Spiegel, July 29.

Between the deficits from the tax breaks for the filthy rich, which are not creating jobs, the huge military expenditures, which is not about ending terrorism, but building an empire – including paying for an illegal and immoral war and occupation in Iraq – privatization and cut backs to public, social programs, especially Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security the Bush administration is running the national economy into the ground. Akerlof warns the huge deficit will only worsen the markets and confidence in the U.S. government world-wide. Allowing mega-corporate mergers, unending war, attacks on union, civil and human rights, and environmental protection also depress living standards and feed instability.

The Bush administration is worried about this too, which is why they are huddling in Crawford, Texas, Aug. 13, for an economic summit. They are worried because they could lose the 2004 elections. But that is exactly why George W. Bush needs to be booted out of the White House and the ultra right out of Congress.

What is needed is a federal government willing to investment in the infrastructure of this country, woefully neglected for many years. Water and sewage systems, environmental clean-up, public transportation, schools, housing, parks, libraries and hospitals all need an infusion of capital. This would create jobs. More research in discovering renewable energy sources along with creating a real international solidarity fund to help undo the decades of destruction wrought by U.S. imperialism would also provide jobs and more stability.

These investments would have to be accompanied by strengthening anti-monopoly laws and corporate regulation; reversing privatization of public entities; upholding collective bargaining and civil rights; raising the minimum wage and college scholarships.

These steps would put our country on the right path both at home and abroad.

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Say no to police spying

Earlier this year Federal Judge Charles S. Haight Jr. released the New York City Police Department from almost all aspects of a 1985 consent decree prohibiting the NYPD from spying on political protests and groups. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly used the Sept. 11 terrorist attack to convince the court that the Handschu consent decree, entered into in 1985 as a result of a 1971 class action suit against police infiltration and spying on left political groups, was outdated and hampered the fight against terrorism. He argued that the NYPD’s own surveillance guidelines protected protesters’ rights.

It now comes to light that many of the New York antiwar demonstrators arrested in February on minor charges were interrogated by the police about their political beliefs. Questions included “Do you hate George W. Bush?” and “Do you think anything would be different if Al Gore were elected?”

The revelations have prompted Judge Haight to reinstitute federal court oversight of the NYPD’s own surveillance guidelines. If the NYPD violates these, they will be held in contempt of court.

All progressive and democratic forces should welcome this decision, but much more needs to be done – including at the federal level.

Attorney General John Ashcroft’s new proposals to expand the Patriot Act would make consent decrees against political spying a thing of the past. Patriot Act II would expand the antidemocratic powers of police agencies against people. It would free police officers from prosecution for illegal searches if they are “following orders.” It would permit the suspension of the right of habeas corpus. U.S. citizens, native or foreign-born, could be deprived of citizenship at the whim of the Justice Department. It would permit wiretaps and reading of e-mail without judicial oversight. It would create a gigantic “Terrorist Identification Database” that would be shielded from judicial review.

In short, Patriot Act II would be an antidemocratic nightmare. No supporter of liberty and justice should rest until it is scrapped.

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