The cruelest lie

As fierce fighting rages in Iraq, popular agitation – in both the U.S. and Iraq – about the illegal U.S. war and occupation has reached a boiling point. One thing is clear: U.S. military might will not bring about Iraqi sovereignty and self-determination.

The new, intensified round of fighting was sparked by the U.S. shutdown of the Iraqi newspaper Al Hawza. The U.S. action obviously struck a nerve among the Iraqi people, setting off demonstrations that have escalated into widespread armed resistance. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is now clamoring to send more troops into the quagmire to supplement the 135,000 U.S. troops already there.

The Bush administration’s far-right ideologues refuse to own up to the lies they used to launch this war. We were lied to about Iraq’s alleged ties to Sept. 11. We were lied to about the alleged weapons of mass destruction. But the cruelest lie of all is Bush’s claim that the purpose of this war is to promote freedom and democracy.

This war is being waged to promote the U.S. corporate plunder of Iraqi oil. It also aims to strengthen the U.S. grip on the region, with the aim of maximizing corporate profits. Working people in both countries can only suffer from these policies – in additional lives lost and deepening economic misery.

As long as the United States occupies Iraq, the Iraqi people will have no chance, no matter what their religion or political perspective, to form their own government and achieve full democratic participation in the rebuilding of the country.

Now is the time to end the occupation. Congress needs to hear our voices. Senators and representatives should be called and visited. Ending the occupation is the only possible basis for Iraqi sovereignty and self-government.

The United Nations needs to facilitate a speedy U.S. exit from Iraq and assist in the transfer of all power to the Iraqi people. The slogan should be, “U.S. out, UN in.” The U.S. must get out of the quagmire before any more die for corporate greed.

Tax the rich

Nearly two-thirds of companies operating in the United States reported owing no taxes from 1996 through 2000 and even fewer foreign companies doing business here paid any taxes. This is according to a report released April 2 by the General Accounting Office. The number of such companies is steadily increasing.

Not surprisingly, several right-wing think tanks see nothing wrong with this. An “expert” at the Heritage Foundation, for example, said the reason companies aren’t paying taxes is “because they did not have any taxable profits.” Yeah, right.

Most Americans believe – wrongly – that the wealthiest people shoulder the heaviest tax burden to subsidize the poor. The truth is that people making between $30,000 to $500,000 a year are subsidizing the super wealthy and the corporations, who are not only not paying their fair share, but in many cases, as the data shows, not paying anything at all.

Then, of course, there’s the problem of where our tax money goes. Depending on whom you ask, military spending will suck up almost half of our hard-earned dollars in Fiscal Year 2005. The U.S. government says it’s only 18 percent, but they don’t figure in loans to finance past wars that still need to be repaid – just one example of what they don’t include. The Center for Defense Information puts the figure at 51 percent.

Look at it this way: the minimum cost to taxpayers in FY 2005 for the war in Iraq will be $125 billion. For the same amount of money, more than 67 million children could have health care. Let’s forego the $17.2 billion allotted for nuclear weapons and instead hire 302,000 elementary school teachers. Or skip the $14 billion in giveaways to the energy corporations and instead provide housing for some 2 million people. Instead of sending our youth into battle, why don’t we provide them with housing, an education and jobs? What a radical idea!