Saturday, September 24, 2005
Purging the Poor
I haven't been quite this enraged in some time.
The Bush/Republican response to the Katrina disaster:
1.) to start using the military for law enforcement, effectively suspending the Posse Comitatus Act (can you say "Waco"?). Which also means, of course, funneling even more money to the military rather than doing something sane with it, like funding FEMA and making it a functional cabinet-level agency, or funding levee construction through the Army Corp of Engineers . . .
2.) suspend prevailing wage laws so that those suffering can suffer just a little bit more
3.) suspend environmental regulations (which simply aren't needed when there's an environmental catastrophe -- that makes perfect sense)
4.) hire Karl Rove (whose only credentials are that he is good at lying and getting away with it) to head the reconstruction effort
5.) give out the usual batch of huge illegal no-bid contracts to the crony capitalist corporations like Halliburton, Bechtel, Fluor, etc.
6.) capitalize on the disaster by using it as an excuse to push the right-wing ideological agenda with such things as corporate wellfare (including for casinos), subsidies for oil exploration (including in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge), de-funding alternative energy research, pushing school vouchers instead of funding the public schools, and (the old favorite) cutting taxes.
These bastards quite simply have no shame.
But what can we expect? They were re-elected; the American people (well, half of them, anyway) put their stamp of approval firmly on this corrupt -- can we just call a spade a spade?: fascist -- administration. And they saw that as a green light to keep doing what they'd been doing for four years. Hell, no one seems to mind, I guess we can get away with it. (Insert Bush's sniveling chuckle here.)
Do I use the word fascist lightly? Perhaps more lightly than I should. But applied in its literal/original sense (Mussolini), it is quite accurate: the merger between the Government and the Corporation.
(Consider, also, the "Karl Rove Playbook.")
The truth is that the White House's determination to turn renters into mortgage payers is less about solving Louisiana's housing crisis than indulging an ideological obsession with building a radically privatized "ownership society." It's an obsession that has already come to grip the entire disaster zone, with emergency relief provided by the Red Cross and Wal-Mart and reconstruction contracts handed out to Bechtel, Fluor, Halliburton and Shaw--the same gang that spent the past three years getting paid billions while failing to bring Iraq's essential services to prewar levels [see Klein, "The Rise of Disaster Capitalism," May 2]. "Reconstruction," whether in Baghdad or New Orleans, has become shorthand for a massive uninterrupted transfer of wealth from public to private hands, whether in the form of direct "cost plus" government contracts or by auctioning off new sectors of the state to corporations.
This vision was laid out in uniquely undisguised form during a meeting at the Heritage Foundation's Washington headquarters on September 13. Present were members of the House Republican Study Committee, a caucus of more than 100 conservative lawmakers headed by Indiana Congressman Mike Pence. The group compiled a list of thirty-two "Pro-Free-Market Ideas for Responding to Hurricane Katrina and High Gas Prices," including school vouchers, repealing environmental regulations and "drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge." Admittedly, it seems farfetched that these would be adopted as relief for the needy victims of an eviscerated public sector. Until you read the first three items: "Automatically suspend Davis-Bacon prevailing wage laws in disaster areas"; "Make the entire affected area a flat-tax free-enterprise zone"; and "Make the entire region an economic competitiveness zone (comprehensive tax incentives and waiving of regulations)." All are poised to become law or have already been adopted by presidential decree.
DemocracyNow! had an interview with Naomi Klein also.