Maybe We Deserve to Be Ripped Off By Bush's
> > Billionaires
> > By Matt Taibbi, RollingStone.com
> > Posted on February 20, 2007, Printed on February 21,
> > 2007
> > http://www.alternet.org/story/48278/
> > While America obsessed about Brittany's shaved head,
> > Bush offered a budget that offers $32.7 billion in
> > tax cuts to the Wal-Mart family alone, while cutting
> > $28 billion from Medicaid.
> > "Now, after she shaved her head in a bizarre episode
> > that culminates a months-long saga of controversial
> > behavior, it's the question being asked by her fans,
> > her foes and the general public: What was she
> > thinking?"-- Bald and Broken: Inside Britney's
> > Shaved Head, Sheila Marikar, ABC.com, Feb. 19
> > What was she thinking? How about nothing? How about
> > who gives a s***? How's that for an answer, Sheila
> > Marikar of ABC news, you pinhead?
> > I'm not one of those curmudgeons who freaks out
> > every time that Bradgelina moves the war off the
> > front page of the Post, or Katie Couric decides to
> > usher in a whole new era of network news with photos
> > of the imbecile demon-spawn of Tom Cruise and Katie
> > Holmes. I understand that we live in a demand-based
> > economy and that there is far more demand for
> > brainless celebrity bullshit than there is, say, for
> > the fine print of the Health and Human Services
> > budget.
> > But that was before this week. I awoke this morning
> > in New York City to find Britney Spears plastered
> > all over the cover of two gigantic daily newspapers,
> > simply because she cut her hair off over the
> > weekend. To me, this crosses a line. My definition
> > of a news story involves something happening. If
> > nothing happens, then you can't have "news," because
> > nothing has changed since the day before. Britney
> > Spears was an idiot last Thursday, an idiot on
> > Friday, and an idiot on both Saturday and Sunday.
> > She was, shockingly, also an idiot on Monday. It
> > will be news when she stops being an idiot, and
> > we'll know when that happens, because she'll have
> > shot herself for the good of the planet. Britney
> > Spears cutting her hair off is the least-worthy
> > front page news story in the history of humanity.
> > Apparently, from now on, every time a jackass sticks
> > a pencil in his own eye, we'll have to wait an extra
> > ten minutes to hear what happened on the battlefield
> > or in Congress or any other place that actually
> > matters.
> > On the same day that Britney was shaving her head, a
> > guy I know who works in the office of Senator Bernie
> > Sanders sent me an email. He was trying very hard to
> > get news organizations interested in some research
> > his office had done about George Bush's proposed
> > 2008 budget, which was unveiled two weeks ago and
> > received relatively little press, mainly because of
> > the controversy over the Iraq war resolution. All
> > the same, the Bush budget is an amazing document. It
> > would be hard to imagine a document that more
> > clearly articulates the priorities of our current
> > political elite.
> > Not only does it make many of Bush's tax cuts
> > permanent, but it envisions a complete repeal of the
> > Estate Tax, which mainly affects only those who are
> > in the top two-tenths of the top one percent of the
> > richest people in this country. The proposed savings
> > from the cuts over the next decade are about $442
> > billion, or just slightly less than the amount of
> > the annual defense budget (minus Iraq war expenses).
> > But what's interesting about these cuts are how Bush
> > plans to pay for them.
> > Sanders's office came up with some interesting
> > numbers here. If the Estate Tax were to be repealed
> > completely, the estimated savings to just one family
> > -- the Walton family, the heirs to the Wal-Mart
> > fortune -- would be about $32.7 billion dollars over
> > the next ten years.
> > The proposed reductions to Medicaid over the same
> > time frame? $28 billion.
> > Or how about this: if the Estate Tax goes, the heirs
> > to the Mars candy corporation -- some of the world's
> > evilest scumbags, incidentally, routinely ripped by
> > human rights organizations for trafficking in child
> > labor to work cocoa farms in places like Cote
> > D'Ivoire -- if the estate tax goes, those assholes
> > will receive about $11.7 billion in tax breaks.
> > That's more than three times the amount Bush wants
> > to cut from the VA budget ($3.4 billion) over the
> > same time period.
> > Some other notable estimate estate tax breaks,
> > versus corresponding cuts:
> > a.. Cox family (Cox cable TV) receives $9.7
> > billion tax break while education would get $1.5
> > billion in cuts
> > b.. Nordstrom family (Nordstrom dept. stores)
> > receives $826.5 million tax break while Community
> > Service Block Grants would be eliminated, a $630
> > million cut
> > c.. Ernest Gallo family (s***ty wines) receives a
> > $468.4 million cut while LIHEAP (heating oil to
> > poor) would get a $420 million cut
> > And so on and so on. Sanders additionally pointed
> > out that the family of former Exxon/Mobil CEO Lee
> > Raymond, who received a $400 million retirement
> > package, would receive about $164 million in tax
> > breaks.
> > Compare that to the Commodity Supplemental Food
> > Program, which Bush proposes be completely
> > eliminated, at a savings of $108 million over ten
> > years. The program sent one bag of groceries per
> > month to 480,000 seniors, mothers and newborn
> > children.
> > Somehow, to me, that's the worst one on the list.
> > Here you have the former CEO of a company that
> > scored record profits even as it gouged consumers,
> > with gas prices rising more than 70 percent since
> > January of 2001. There is a direct correlation
> > between the avarice of oil company executives and
> > the increased demand for federal aid for heating oil
> > programs like LIHEAP, and yet the federal government
> > wants to reward these same executives for raising
> > prices on the backs of consumers.
> > Even if you're a traditional, Barry Goldwater
> > conservative, the kinds of budgets that Bush has
> > sent to the hill not only this year but this whole
> > century are the worst-case scenario; they increase
> > spending generally while cutting taxes and social
> > programming. They commit taxpayers to giant
> > subsidies of already Croseus-rich energy
> > corporations, pharmaceutical companies and defense
> > manufacturers while simultaneously cutting taxes on
> > those who most directly benefit from those
> > subsidies. Thus you're not cutting spending --
> > you're just cutting spending on people who actually
> > need the money. (According to the Washington Times,
> > which in a supremely ironic twist of fate did one of
> > the better analyses of the budget, spending will be
> > 1.6 percent of GDP higher in the 2008 budget than in
> > was in 2000, while revenues will be 2.6 percent of
> > GDP lower). This is something different from
> > traditional conservatism and something different
> > from big-government liberalism; this is a new kind
> > of politics that transforms the state into a huge,
> > ever-expanding instrument for converting private
> > savings into corporate profit.
> > That's not only bad government, it's bad capitalism.
> > It makes legalized bribery and political connections
> > more important factors than performance and
> > competition in the corporate marketplace. Beyond
> > that, it's just plain f**** offensive to ordinary
> > people. It's one thing to complain about paying
> > taxes when those taxes are buying a bag of groceries
> > once a month for some struggling single mom in
> > eastern Kentucky. But when your taxes are buying a
> > yacht for some asshole who hires African eight
> > year-olds to pick cocoa beans for two cents an hour
> > .... I sure don't remember reading an excuse for
> > that anywhere in the Federalist Papers.
> > I also don't remember reading much about this year's
> > budget. It was a story for about half a minute when
> > it came out two weeks ago. It barely made TV
> > newscasts, and even when it did, only the broad
> > strokes made it on air. There was some fuss about
> > the Alternative Minimum Tax and a mild uproar over
> > the fact that the 2008 budget failed to account for
> > estimates of the costs for wars in Iraq and
> > Afghanistan. But overall, the budget was a
> > non-starter as a news story. As it does every year,
> > it takes a back seat to hot-button issues like gay
> > marriage, the latest election scandal, etc. Already,
> > the 2008 election presidential campaign has gotten
> > far more ink than the 2008 budget. As entertainment,
> > bullshit politics always triumphs over real
> > politics.
> > Here's the thing about the system of news coverage
> > we have today. If the Walton family, or Lee Raymond,
> > or the heirs to the Mars fortune actually needed the
> > news media to work better than it does now, believe
> > me, it would work better. But they have no such
> > need, because the system is working just fine for
> > them as is. The people it's failing are the rest of
> > us, and most of the rest of us, apparently, would
> > rather sniff Anna Nicole Smith's corpse or watch
> > Britney Spears hump a fire hydrant than find out
> > what our tax dollars are actually paying for.
> > s***, when you think about it that way, why not
> > steal from us? People that dumb don't deserve to
> > have money.
> > Matt Taibbi is a writer for Rolling Stone.
> > Ã‚Â© 2007 Independent Media Institute. All rights
> > reserved.