Monday, September 12, 2005

Of Some of the People, By Some of the People, For Some of the People

The administration is spending billions of dollars in response to Katrina. One is supposed to be grateful that they have finally decided to do something, but it is quite likely that they are going to waste an enormous amount of public money in the process. The same cost-plus, no-bid contracts that were awarded to Bush’s political allies in Iraq are very much a feature of the current relief effort. Of course from a purely partisan point of view, this sort of looting of the treasury is not a waste at all since it’s going into the right pockets; but for those of us who aren’t in on the swag, it’s just more looting. And the damage is not merely fiscal. Bush et. al. are past masters of using emergency situations as cover for passing laws that continue their settled policy of dismantling unions and weakening environmental protections.

The Republicans harm us, as much when they are driven to address genuine public needs as when they pursue more overtly selfish ends. Last year’s Medicare bill, for example, ostensibly enacted to provide drug benefits to seniors, has turned out to be a gruesomely expensive boondoggle that provides minimum help at maximum cost while containing a host of deal sweeteners for the political connected drug firms. No bill at all would have been much preferable to this measure, which not even the conservatives have bothered to defend except as a more or less necessary piece of political cynicism in an election year.

In lieu of encouraging the government to do anything at all over the next three years, responsible politicians need to follow a consistent program of obstructionism. Nothing good will come from this corrupt crew, whose defenders are more accurately described as accomplices than supporters. What we have here is a new version of the Grant administration, except that it was possible to believe that the President in that case was simply na├»ve. It was said that Grant never met a businessman he didn’t trust. But Bush is a businessman who, absent amnesia, should surely know better than to trust himself.

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