Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Ask Not...

A number of observers more qualified than I to pass judgment on George W. Bush’s State of the Union address earlier this week have noted the absence of the slightest trace of a call for Americans to sacrifice or to share significantly in the burden of the current crises that afflict us. It was all a matter of “trust”—a word that occurred at least a dozen times in the speech, and about which I am writing at greater length in my Huffington Post blog, to be posted shortly. It was a matter of “You trust us, we have the solution to every problem. Just do my bidding, and everything will be okay.” Well, this was the subtext, anyway.

Given the record of the Bush administration in coming up with solutions to serious problems, I say “Fat chance.” No more trust from this quarter, at least. Not that there ever was much anyway.

The most offensive part of the speech, for this listener, was the mockery this “President” chose to heap on those ready to make a sacrifice to help those less fortunate, and to get the country back on track. “Others have said,” he proclaimed, delighted with his own incisive sense of humor, “they would personally be happy to pay higher taxes. I welcome their enthusiasm. I’m pleased to report that the I.R.S. accepts both checks and money orders.”

Ha ha ha. It happens that I am among those pitiable people. I am not as fortunate as some, but more fortunate than many. From having lived for many years in Europe, I know how relatively little Americans are asked to pay in taxes, and I am always bewildered—and frankly irritated—by the whining self-pity that characterizes virtually every conversation on the subject over here. Speaking for myself, I would prefer to have good schools and transportation systems, a humane medical health care program, and care for the poorest of the poor. (I would prefer, of course, to spend a good deal less on weapons and the technology of destruction, and regret what I judge to be a misuse of the money that I pay, but that’s another issue.)

To be mocked by the childish sarcasm of this man is galling. It is doubly galling when he uses the privileged platform of his formal address to the nation to indulge in such inanities. I wish that the Congress of the United States had the balls to impeach him for his abuse of office and the Constitution, and for his lies.


robin andrea said...

That comment during the State of the Union struck me as juvenile and outrageous as well. I don't know how the subtext of "We are overtaxed, oh poor me" got started, but it summarizes how a lot of people feel about their taxes. I've received an email twice that goes on at length how over-taxed we poor Americans are. It infuriates me. I would gladly pay more for education, health care, and an alternative energy policy. I like fire departments, roads, and bridges. Taxes are the investments we make in ourselves. I detest the rich for bilking us of those important dollars and muddling the discussion with their cries about tax burdens. Yes, you definitely hit a nerve with this post. George Bush would have been struck down by lightning during the speech if my wishes had any power at all.

Bill said...

I blame at least part of the shallow attitude of many Americans regarding taxes on the lack of any Civics instruction in schools over the past decades. Many of the people I talk to have no concept of the variety of things that they take for granted that would disappear or degrade to unusability in short order were it not for taxes.

There seems to be a perception that we get nothing for them -- that they all go into some black hole that prevents their being used for anything useful to us common folks (like Interstate and other Federal highways, support of the system itself, the air traffic control system and airports that, along with the highways, insure that they have their daily dose of cholesterol to fuel the vitriol). These, of course, are the same people who complain about the homeless guys on the street corner, while complaining loudly at the expenditure of "their" taxes on aid for the mentally ill, addicted, and others who are unable to care for themselves. The metta runneth over. Not.

Thankfully, at least in Florida, that is about to change. Beginning this year Civics classes are mandatory for middle school students, and long past time. The dumbing of America has got to come to a screeching halt, or we'll all be in (as Bush 41 was wont to remark) "deep doo-doo."


PeterAtLarge said...

Thanks, both, for thoughtful comments. It's true, I think, that people at large have no idea how much of their own tax money comes back to them in the form of all those things we're speaking of. I've often thought that the "vast right-wing conspiracy" has thrived on its slow strangulation of public education.