lundi, octobre 18, 2004

What's In a Name?

This weekend I read with interest about the "American Jobs Creation Act of 2004," legislation which passed both houses of Congress by wide margins and was promptly signed into law by President Bush.

The name of this bill was brought to you by the same folks who brought you the USA Patriot Act, the Clean Skies Initiative, and the Healthy Forests Initiative.

A common adjective used to describe these naming conventions is Orwellian.

The USA Patriot Act is the most significant assualt on the Bill of Rights in the modern era (well, except the sacrosanct 2nd Amendment). All Patriots abhor the Bill of Rights, so it's good that we have a nice label there.

The Clean Skies Initiative can only be designed to address the pesky problem of clean skies (I'm so tired of breathing clean air), and the same can be said of the Healthy Forest Initiative (I have to admit that fewer trees might help my golf game).

The American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 may create a job or two (not in proportion with it's corporate give back - and most will agree that with the same money, we could have created a lot more jobs), but it really is a gift to corporations with lobbyists. Economists speculate that most of the gains will be used to pay down corporate debt, not create jobs.

As the article just cited notes:

However, nothing in the legislation requires or even encourages businesses to use their tax breaks to make the investments that will likely create jobs. And in fact, one of the provisions of the bill, a section that even the Wall Street Journal calls a "tax windfall," will result in billions of dollars used to pay down debt and to improve corporate balance sheets. Not much immediate job creation there.

The specific section of the bill allows American companies to have their overseas profits taxed at a one-time rate of 5.25 percent rather than the usual 35 percent. That will mean a one-time "windfall" of almost $4.3 billion for a company like Hewlett Packard. HP has already stated that they will likely use much of the money for "debt payment." Not much immediate job creation there.

Without question what saddens me most about the Bush administration is how they have proven (and continue to prove) how easy it is to hoodwink Americans. If you say the right things (especially if you invoke God or stand in front of the flag), you can count on widespread support. If Bush wins a second term, to me it will stand for how willing people are to say that the emperor is dressed exquisitely even when he is totally naked.

My favorite example right now is that, with our troops over-extended and back-door drafted in Iraq, with Al Qaeda essentially ignored and growing stronger, with North Korea developing nuclear weapons, and with muslim extremists running wild in Eastern Europe, the whole Security Mom phenomenon even had 15 minutes of fame. We're fighting a war in Iraq that has been universally recognized as not having anything to do with terrorism while claiming that we are winning the war on terrorism. Nice.

But of course Bush will keep us more secure than Kerry. You know how I know, because he said so, and in Bush/Cheney America, not only is reality subject to perception (sure, Mr. Vice President, sure, there is a link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, of course there is - you keep saying there is so it must be true), but words speak louder than actions.

Can't wait 'til those jobs start coming in...can't wait to be safe from terror...can't wait to breathe clean air in healthy forests.

And I must add - Mr. President, you look great in that cloak!