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As I See It

In 1980, in his campaign against incumbent President Jimmy Carter, challenger Ronald Reagan asked America the pertinent question, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” Today that question could be expanded to include: Are your children and your grandchildren better off? Is our country better off? Is Iraq better off? Is the world better off? Is anyone better off?Are we better off than we were four years ago? Average family income is down $1,500 in purchasing power since 2000. The number of families living in poverty has increased from one out of nine to one out of eight. The number of children living in poverty has increased even more. In Colorado, both the unemployment and under-employment rates have doubled over the past four years to more than 5 percent and 10 percent, respectively, and the number of families without health insurance is up 12 percent, to one family out of every six. Mortgage foreclosures and bankruptcies in Colorado have risen to the highest levels in ten years. And the minimum hourly wage has been held at $5.15 despite a nearly 20 percent increase in the cost of living since the last adjustment in 1997.Are your children and grandchildren better off than they were four years ago? As a result of the Bush administration’s huge tax cuts for the wealthy and its refusal to pay for his war in Iraq, our national debt is spiraling out of control from $5.67 trillion in 2000 to $7.2 trillion in 2004, and is headed for $8.67 trillion by 2008. That is an increase of over 50 percent in just eight years. This is a legacy of the Bush administration’s “borrow and spend” policy that will pass on to our children and grandchildren a debt burden of nearly $30,000 per person to pay for Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy and his personal vendetta against Saddam Hussein.Is our country better off than four years ago? Due to our unilateral pre-emptive invasion of Iraq, we have alienated most of the nations who used to support us, have created a groundswell of anti-American feeling all over the world, and have fueled a wave of hatred in the Muslim world, converting thousands to the terrorist cause and increasing the terrorist threat throughout the entire world, including here in the United States. The cost of protecting our commuter trains against terrorist attacks is estimated to be $6 billion; yet Bush’s funding is only $100 million. The cost to equip our airports to screen baggage for explosives is $3 billion; the Bush budget is $400 million. In the meantime, the Iraq war is costing us $9 billion every month.Is Iraq better off? While Saddam Hussein was in power as a brutal despot, Iraqis were relatively safe so long as they didn’t step out of line, and they could go about their daily life in relative security. Today, the country is on the verge of anarchy, there is no security, and death comes at random from street battles, and from U.S. air attacks intended for insurgents but taking a toll of civilian deaths running into many thousands. The country’s infrastructure is in shambles. Electricity and water and sewerage systems are hardly functional, and people do not have jobs, and are afraid to send their children to school or go out onto the streets.Is the world better off than four years ago? Terrorism is on the rise, attacking in any country throughout the world that supports the United States and Bush’s ill-advised policies.Then who is better off? The wealthy and large corporations, who get huge tax breaks, shifting an ever increasing proportion of the tax burden onto the struggling middle class.This is what four years of George W. Bush have brought us. Do we want more of the same for the next four years?Glenwood Springs resident Hal Sundin’s column runs every other Thursday in the Post Independent. Do to an editors’ error, his column was inadvertently left out of Thursday’s paper.Glenwood Springs resident Hal Sundin’s column runs every other Thursday in the Post Independent. Do to an editors’ error, his column was inadvertently left out of Thursday’s paper.


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