The Patch

January 25, 2007

Thursday 25th January 2007 – Preach on with the message of “Go fuck thy neighbour.”

Filed under: International News — Phil @ 11:59 pm

Two days ago, President George W. Bush delivered his penultimate State of the Union address before Congress.

I hope I’m not stepping on Alan’s toes here, and I hope this column isn’t becoming too Americo-centric, but it’s hard to do a column on international news without mentioning the most powerful nation in the world a little bit.

He started off with some very professionally given but ultimately quite unconvincing congratulations to the democrats and I think that was pretty much the high point.

His first points were economic:

First, we must balance the federal budget. (Applause.) We can do so without raising taxes. (Applause.) What we need to do is impose spending discipline in Washington, D.C. We set a goal of cutting the deficit in half by 2009, and met that goal three years ahead of schedule. (Applause.) Now let us take the next step. In the coming weeks, I will submit a budget that eliminates the federal deficit within the next five years. (Applause.) I ask you to make the same commitment. Together, we can restrain the spending appetite of the federal government, and we can balance the federal budget. (Applause.)

I’m sorry, have I missed something here? I want to remind you now who’s talking here – this man:

President George W. Bush

George Walker Bush, 43rd President of the United States of America. He went into office in 2000. According to the “Citizen’s Guide to the Budget” that accompanies the federal budget for fiscal year 2002, the federal surplus for the fiscal year 2000 (read: immediately before Bush got involved) was USD 268 billion. If Bush had carried on the financial management of the budget started by the Clinton administration, by 2012, 2 trillion dollars of national debt would have been retired.

Prior to 1989, the largest federal deficit was about 150 billion dollars (excuse the vagueness, I’m reading off a graph). Between 1989 and 1992, the deficit grew from ~120 billion to 290 billion dollars. From 1992 to 2000, this was turned into a federal surplus of 268 billion dollars. From that date, this surplus, which was widely predicted to carry on increasing, has become a deficit. In fact, in 2006 Bush celebrated a projected deficit of 296 billion dollars. The more astute amongst you will have noticed this is in fact a bigger deficit than that of 1992, the largest to that date, so why the celebration? Because the deficits for 2003, 2004 and 2005 were 378, 413 and 318 billion dollars respectively.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says these numbers could swing to a surplus by 2012, but only if Bush’s tax cuts expire in 2010. And that says it all really. Bush handed out tax cuts he could not afford to people that could easily afford to pay them. The only way he can balance the budget is to raise those taxes again. The only way he’s closing the gap is by having the IRS chase taxes owed by lower income families more vigorously than ever. He is kidding himself to think that imposing spending discipline on its own will be enough. History should tell him it will not be enough. The only reason there is a problem is because he cut taxes for higher income families and the only way to reverse that consequence is to reverse that action. Or start “rehabilitating” the Enron accountants.

He pledged to start reducing fossil fuel usage and increase the use of renewable resources, which is great start but I remain unconvinced. Once the US starts showing it’s commitment, not in none-binding public statements but in ratifying international treaties and enacting domestic laws to effectively limit and reduced carbon emissions, I’ll be a much happier bunny.

And he’s still referring to a “war on terror”. In fact, the word terror, in some form, was uttered 22 times during his speech. I’d be a hell of a lot more comfortable if I had any idea what the hell we were fighting against. For a far more localised example, look at the “Irish Troubles”. Fighting fire with fire only served to make things worse. Whilst the British government took a militant stance on the issue, the bloodshed continued. With more dialogue and less guns, things are starting to develop. Are they anywhere near perfect? Not even slightly, but at least I can go into town on polling day. At least we don’t have people blowing each other up for the cause.

Instead, we have “Islamic extremists” blowing themselves up for a different cause. The best thing about this war is how little sense it makes. “The West” is, apparently, fighting to protect themselves against the dangers “the Terrorists” present to our society. “The Terrorists”, on the other hand, and fighting because of “the West”‘s interference in their societies.

If any of this were really about national security, there’s an easy way out. If any of this were really about religion it wouldn’t be happening. National security does not require the invasion of countries that cannot pose any threat to your nationals assuming they don’t go to said country and begin taunting the local armies. Religion does not require killing other people.

I don’t know what the answer is, but this can’t be it. I’m not sure the answer isn’t to leave the hell alone. Terrorism, in my eyes, should never be the concern of the Army. It’s a domestic problem for the Police to stop. Retaliation is never the answer. An eye for an eye leaves us all blind. A bomb for a bomb leaves us all scattered across the world in many little pieces.

I’m not going to say nothing Bush said was good, but what he said that WAS good was mostly sentimental and unnecessary. Mere vote winners that would have been discussed around congress whether they were included in the address at all.

The State of the Union is pretty damn abysmal if you ask me. Roll on 2008.

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4 Comments »

  1. you’re speaking from my heart. i refuse to watch thte state of the union because it fills me with rage, and you have pinpointed exactly why. praise phil.

    Comment by Amie — January 26, 2007 @ 5:29 am | Reply

  2. That’s because I’ve stolen you heart and keep it in a little box attached to my brain to give me ideas for this column!
    But seriously, I haven’t had time to actually watch the address, I couldn’t get it to work on this computer, but I have read the transcript through and it got my annoyed enough as words on paper, so god knows what it would have been like coming from his mouth.

    Comment by Phil — January 26, 2007 @ 10:06 am | Reply

  3. People, seriously, there is no need to worry about if you’re “stepping on my toes”. By definition, what we’re doing here overlaps significantly. Do what you will, and I’ll deal with it in my own way. ALL-CONSUMING INNER RAGE.

    Comment by freshlysqueezedcynic — January 31, 2007 @ 12:15 pm | Reply

  4. Alan, you’re ace. Enjoy your rage 😀 Ooh, Phil is ace too…

    Comment by Claire — January 31, 2007 @ 8:24 pm | Reply


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