Friday, September 3, 2010

The Tyranny of False Accusations

President Bush has been blamed for the downturn of the US economy, but is he the real culprit? When George W Bush first took office in 2000, the economy was beginning to dip into a recession. President Bush and the Republican congress, in spite of the woe pronounced by democrats, who claimed the cuts would significantly reduce the taxes paid to the government, signed tax cuts into law and implemented a stimulus package that put money back in the pockets of the tax payers. The result was increased jobs and increased money pouring into the government coffers. I recall an article in The Economist where they were so surprised that the taxes paid in had increased rather than decreased.

September 11, 2001 brought turmoil to our land, yet that did not negatively affect the economy. Congress and the majority of the population agreed that attacking Afghanistan was a good move. President Bush and congress debated about taking the war to Iraq. Intelligence agents said they did have weapons of mass destruction and Sadam Hussein was a ticking bomb. Most of congress agreed to take the war to Iraq. The US warned Hussein that we were coming if he did not meet our demands. He thumbed his nose at the US. After giving Hussein plenty of time to get those weapons out of Iraq, the US invaded the country. When no weapons of mass destruction were found, the rhetoric against President Bush began in earnest. According to Karl Rove in the July 15, 2010 issue of the Wall Street Journal, it was Ted Kennedy who “fired the first shot in an all-out assault on President George W. Bush’s integrity.” It wasn’t long until people all over the country were claiming that President Bush had purposely misled the nation even though he knew there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

The result of this character assassination was that despite a strong economy democrats were voted into office in the midterm elections in President Bush’s second term. One of the first moves the democrat congress did was to substantially raise the minimum wage, which President Bush signed. Within 6 months, our economy was beginning to slide into a recession.

Since my income is around that of those who were buying low-end houses, and since I am self-employed, I was in an ideal position to see first hand what happened to cripple our economy. Within a short time after the minimum wage increase, some people were laid off; employers who hired minimum wage workers had to let some go or lose their businesses altogether. A teenager who worked at a gas station told me that a recent hire had his wage raised to the same as hers, even though she had been there for over a year. She also reported that her workplace raised the cost of various items. It wasn’t long until grocery store prices began to climb as owners attempted to bring in enough to keep their workers. Slowly, over several months, those in the next brackets above minimum wage saw their wages rise. But those around $15,000 and up saw no wage increase, even though their expenses had gone up considerably. Some of my customers had to discontinue my services because they could no longer afford me, even though I had not raised my prices. Although I was blessed with other customers, I could not raise my prices to keep up with expenses. I heard of others who were also self-employed in my field who couldn’t find enough work. Only the more wealthy or those in desperate need continued to hire our services. And I was no longer making budget. I had to reduce or eliminate categories like “savings,” and “medical.” And I could not increase my “food” category, even though I desperately needed to. I had to buy only those items that were on sale. Liver, a lower priced item, became more popular as people chose to eat more liver in their struggle to keep their food bills down, which resulted in liver prices shooting up.

All that was bad enough. But around that time, gas prices began to soar as well. Remember, part of the soaring prices was caused by the increased wages of those working for the gas stations. The combination of raised prices due to the minimum wage hike and raised gas prices made it impossible for some home owners to meet their mortgage commitments. While some people likely did buy a house they could not afford, many more of them had originally been able to pay their bills, but now could not due to raised prices and stagnant wages.

The lies about President Bush continued. Everything was his fault; everything from global warming to the crashing economy to Katrina to anything else that went wrong. People bought what the mainstream media spewed out. Polls that were taken after the 2008 election found that a substantial number of people thought Republicans had control of congress before the election, and that our economic problems were the fault of the Republicans.

Thus Obama was voted into office based on the lie that the Republicans in general, and President Bush in particular had brought the recession on the United States. No one seemed to remember that the economy had been doing well before the midterm elections. They voted against Republicans primarily to stop the war in Iraq, and to get those people who they were convinced had no integrity out of office. They voted for “change,” not having a clue what change Obama was talking about. They turned a blind eye to Obama’s record and spouted the rhetoric that everything was President Bush’s and the Republican’s fault.

Now Obama and the democratic congress has forced health care reform into law, against the will of the majority of the people. This, too, is caused by the tyranny of false accusations against President Bush and the Republicans. When health care goes into effect, the cost to everyone except those who earn the least, will increase substantially. This, too, will cause more lost jobs, more unemployment.

Those who leveled false accusations against President Bush have a lot to answer for. It brought a huge increase in minimum wage, which began the economic downturn we are living today. It raised prices, it put people out of work, it caused people to be unable to pay their mortgages, it caused businesses to fail, which put more people out of work and caused more people to be unable to pay their mortgages, which caused banks to fail, which brought the government to sign a number of stimulus bills, which raised the national debt, raised the deficit, decreased the value of the dollar, and will raise our taxes, which will increase loss of jobs, and probably will take us into a depression. The dollar used to be worth a little more than the Japanese yen, but this year the yen is worth more than the dollar. (My daughter used up our savings to go to Japan).

Indeed, if congress does not vote to extend the Bush tax cuts, if they keep on spouting their false accusations against President George W Bush, and allow those tax cuts to expire out of spite that has been generated by falsehoods, I can expect to lose another round of customers. But this time there won’t be other customers to take their place. Ronald Reagan used to call it the “trickle down” theory. It turns out he was right. Even though we think the wealthy do not need the tax cuts, they are the ones who hire the middle class, and the middle class in turn hires me and others in the service industry. When the wealthy have their money taxed away from them, they cut their work force or stop being in business altogether. That hurts all of us.

I don’t like the idea of capitalism any more than the next person. Too many capitalists line their pockets at the expense of others. But I have learned that when socialism is instituted—even democratic socialism—those who are too heavily taxed lose their incentive to work and to make money. Instead, they choose to keep their incomes under the punishing thresholds, and the unemployment rate increases, bringing joblessness and suffering to an increased number of people, which reduces the work of the service industry. And like a spiral the unemployment rate will keep rising as more and more people are forced to close their businesses or reduce their work force.

And it is all caused by the tyranny of false accusations.

Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel" See A Mennonite woman fights to save her family yet keep her faith.

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