Thursday, April 26, 2007

George W. Bush: Homegrown Terrorist

I've read two interesting stories this week about the Bush administration's treatment of working people in America, and both stories lead me to one conclusion: Bush and his cronies are terrorists. Indeed, between the unnecessary deaths of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and the unnecessary deaths of workers in American industry, Bush and his operatives are responsible for killing more people than any of the terrorists of 9/11 or thereafter.

Take, for example, a story in the New York Times this week about how Bush appointees in OSHA have gutted the system of regulations that protect workers from job-related injuries and force employers to provide a safe working environment for employees. According to the Times, "Across Washington, political appointees — often former officials of the industries they now oversee — have eased regulations or weakened enforcement of rules on issues like driving hours for truckers, logging in forests and corporate mergers. . . . 'The people at OSHA have no interest in running a regulatory agency,' said Dr. David Michaels, an occupational health expert at George Washington University who has written extensively about workplace safety. 'If they ever knew how to issue regulations, they’ve forgotten. The concern about protecting workers has gone out the window.' "

I was also reading a great book - Big Coal - which examines the U.S. coal industry in terms of safety, environmental impact, labor practices, and energy consumption. Once again, the Bush administration has gone out of its way to place a former coal industry lobbyist in charge of the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) . In fact, the head of MSHA from 2001 until 2004, Dave Lauriski, spent years lobbying the government to loosen the rules against dangerous levels of coal dust - the main cause of black lung - in underground mines. Huh?! The coal industry already has a long history of lax safety enforcement. Shouldn't Lauriski have been the last person considered for this position?

It's just another example of Bush and the Republicans "letting the wolf guard the henhouse." How can American workers accept this kind of behavior? Yet even when injured workers try to change conditions in the workplace, corporate lawyers and Bush appointees in governmental agencies muster their considerable resources and influence to derail court battles and stifle bad publicity.

And the ultimate goal? Profit is more important than human lives. Sure, a pro-regulatory climate is good for worker safety and productivity. Yet more strict regulation of industry lowers profits. And unfortunately, we've become a society more interested in how a company's stock performs on Wall Street than in how a corporation benefits society through its products and innovations or treats its employees. The problem is only exacerbated when a president hands the keys to government to the corporations.

We've had corrupt or ineffectual presidents before. Unfortunately, the American people have a bad habit of elevating mediocre politicians to the nation's highest office. Look to the late 19th century, for example. The administration of Ulysses S. Grant was punctuated by scandal and graft. Yet Grant himself could scarcely be regarded as a malevolent or consciously corrupt chief executive. Most of the administration's failures can be attributed to Grant's ignorance and lack of experience. Move forward to the early 1920s and one finds a complex web of corruption surrounding the administration of Warren G. Harding.

The difference today is that the Bush administration - specifically Bush, Cheney, Rove and Rice - represents an "axis of evil" no less dangerous than Fascist Germany or Stalinist Russia. It is aggressive, corrupt, dismissive of citizens' most basic liberties, and ideologically myopic. Bush and his cronies display a poor understanding of history's lessons and act with a seeming disregard for the long-term consequences of their actions. Moreover, in its efforts to subvert the freedoms and protections guaranteed citizens, the Bush administration has violated the Constitution - and the rule of law - time and time again. Bush the terrorist is a cancer on the body politic and should be excised the way one removes a life-threatening tumor. Then, after committing the Bush administration to the dustbin of history, our nation can begin to right the wrongs and abuses of eight miserable years. Unfortunately, it will take far longer than eight years to restore Americans' faith in their government and the world's faith in the United States.


One Wink at a Time said...

You can bet I'll be back here to read this on the weekend... ;-)
...along with all my other catching-up. Hope you're doing well.

One Wink at a Time said...

I wasn't aware of the easing of OSHA standards. How disturbing.
I used to write for a UMWA Newsletter and living in a coal-mining part of the country, am aware of the importance of Mine Safety and the tragic results of the absence of the necessary rigidity of such. I agree with your "wolf guarding the henhouse" observation 100%.
Your presentation of our current and past administations is straight and sadly accurate... Time for change. Time for we, the People to wake up and see that we are setting ourselves up by baring our throats to the guillotines in power.