Monday, August 6, 2007

While Bush Fiddles and Iraq burns

It came to me in a flash. I know Al Qaeda's plan for taking over and controlling the United States. Simple, really.

It is the old diversion tactic. While we funnel billions of dollars into Iraq, send our youth there to either get killed, maimed, or forever changed, and argue about weapons of mass destruction, Al Qaeda will wait.


Why not? Our money is not being used to keep our country safe. It is not being used to repair what is needed. It is not paying for health care or feeding the hungry. And it most certainly is not being used to educate.

So while Bush fiddles and Iraq burns, the United States falls apart at the seams for want of leadership and funds.

Do you really need evidence of this cagey plan? Repairs -- Manhattan's steam pipe break and the Minneapolis bridge disaster. We have two of those each month and we won't even think about Al Qaeda. We'll be lying awake nights wondering if it is safe to drive to work or drink the water. (And don't forget oil prices and supply and demand....)

Here in Florida some employees at the Orlando airport have been caught running guns. They were part of the 'homeland security' system. I'm not sure that too many of our leaders and CEOs are any less guilty of crimes committed against the country. But that aside, how do we deal with additional demands for security and infrastructure repairs? Our beloved governor reduced property taxes. That means $100 more in my pocket each year. For the wealthy landowners, business owners, and developers -- it means a great deal more money in their pockets.

For our county and city governments it reflects millions of dollars no longer trickling into their budgets each year. Just how much will they be able to spend on homeland security? They're still trying to deal with the polluted FEMA trailers in some parts of the state. At least the blue tarps are gone from most of the roofs damaged in the 2004 hurricane season. When we visited that year, we thought Florida had adopted a new flag.

At least with the budget cuts, we are seeing quite plainly which counties and cities were good stewards of the money paid to them and which were not. Fortunately I live in a county with responsible oversight. Each department is quickly trimming their budgets by about 20 percent. Not much fat to trim, but a lot of hopes and plans are being scrapped. The museum addition -- forget it. Offices will probably close one extra day a week. The county issued a hiring freeze months ago, and they are pushing a green campaign to run each department with a more environmentally friendly attitude that should also cut costs. But, the millions missing from the budget means less amenities for the citizens.

Come January we are to vote on another tax break. I can't seem to find out the specifics or the targeted portion of the population it will most benefit. If, like this past tax break, it goes to help the wealthiest 10 percent, then I can only dread life in Florida with yet more millions removed from our county and city budgets. What about roads, infrastructure, security, sanitation, street lights, disaster relief, jobs.... What about disaster centers, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, special needs homes.... The first to lose their services are those with the least resources, and the least power.

Yup, a right smart plan those terrorists have in mind. Just wave a few guns now and then, plant a bomb here and there in Iraq, kill a few more U.S. soldiers and keep us running around like ants whose hill has been stepped on. By the time we realize we've been hoodwinked....

It seems like our own leadership has terrorized us as much or more than any foreign terrorist ever has. But with political greed at such an all time high, the gap between the wealthy few and the middle class widens while the ranks of the middle class dwindles. Poverty increases, quality of life falls and expenses raise. Healthcare has turned into a vicious, evil joke, and job opportunities continue to decline.

Is there a bright spot in all of this? Americans are beginning to open their eyes and realize that all of those promises to 'take care of you' are empty and it is up to us to ensure our own care. We must teach and train up our children, we must be stewards of our own money, property and investments. We must save for our future and spend wisely. We must be conscious of environmental problems and do our part to fix them. And, if we see our leaders proceeding with plans that will fill their pockets and empty ours, then we must speak up. We must question. We still have our right to speak out -- thanks to a courageous few who spoke up against the government's plans when our media stood mum. And hopefully we will all start asking questions:

1. What aren't they saying?
2. What does it mean to me?
3. What is the long term consequences?
4. Why aren't we getting good leadership?
5. What can we do to make a difference?

We must fight for our country with our voices and our votes. One may seem like a lonely number. Yet each one of us can make a difference.

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