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The Philadelphia Jewish Voice
October 2005 > Katrina

Losing Both Gulf Wars

President Bush is losing both Gulf Wars: the one in the Persian Gulf and that on the Gulf of Mexico, and part of the reason for failures in our own Gulf is the military misadventure in the other one. Until now, when disaster struck America one of the major forces we could depend on was the National Guard, which could immediately be mobilized to assume control of chaos and catastrophe. Today, however, those Guards are in Iraq, daily being killed as a result of the social and religious anarchy we caused by our invasion two and a half years (and 1900+ American deaths) ago.

Another thing we could count on was FEMA, the agency created by Jimmy Carter in 1979 to combat disasters in America. The brilliant successes of FEMA during the last series of hurricanes in Florida have been overshadowed by the gross incompetence of the response to Katrina. The difference between then and now is the subordination of Emergency Management to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the cannibalization of its budget and mission to feed other portions of the DHS budget.

Finally, once upon a time, America was a rich nation with a can-do government. The taxes we paid allowed the government to fulfill its constitutionally mandated missions, to "... establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity..." .

Since Ronald Reagan in the 1980s preached the gospel of government as a problem that needed to be controlled by reducing its revenues, a Hallelujah Chorus of right-wing tax-cutters has hamstrung our government, curtailed its ability to fulfill any promise except "Defense", and sapped its strength to respond to domestic emergencies. President Bush's ill-considered tax cuts have created our nation's greatest deficit ever, while the unnecessary Gulf War sucks critical dollars out of the dwindling national bank account.

One result of this perversion of the national mission was the diversion into the Gulf War and other areas of dollars intended to maintain and improve the levees of New Orleans. The Gulf Coast disaster was in great part man-made; Katrina had just bypassed New Orleans when those inadequate levees broke and the city was destroyed.

While the President's tax policies create the greatest gap between wealth and poverty in recent memory, the bonds floated to support those policies make America ever more dependant on the kindness of stranger nations like China.

It is time for Americans to raise their voices in defense of appropriate taxation to allow a competent government to achieve our national mission. Otherwise we will lose our land of opportunity and become another banana republic, with massive inequality of wealth that must march to the beat of the foreigners who own our debt.

by Kenneth Gorelick