One Bush Left Behind

Here’s your question, class:

In his State of the Union, the President asked Congress for $300 million for poor kids in the inner city. As there are, officially, 15 million children in America living in poverty, how much is that per child? Correct! $20.

Here’s your second question. The President also demanded that Congress extend his tax cuts. The cost: $4.3 trillion over ten years. The big recipients are millionaires. And the number of millionaires happens, not coincidentally, to equal the number of poor kids, roughly 15 million of them. OK class: what is the cost of the tax cut per millionaire? That’s right, Richie, $287,000 apiece.

Mr. Bush said, “In neighborhoods across our country, there are boys and girls with dreams. And a decent education is their only hope of achieving them.”

So how much educational dreaming will $20 buy?

* George Bush’s alma mater, Phillips Andover Academy, tells us their annual tuition is $37,200. The $20 “Pell Grant for Kids,” as the White House calls it, will buy a poor kid about 35 minutes of this educational dream. So they’ll have to wake up quickly.

* $20 won’t cover the cost of the final book in the Harry Potter series.

If you can’t buy a book nor pay tuition with a sawbuck, what exactly can a poor kid buy with $20 in urban America? The Palast Investigative Team donned baseball caps and big pants and discovered we could obtain what local citizens call a “rock” of crack cocaine. For $20, we were guaranteed we could fulfill any kid’s dream for at least 15 minutes.

Now we could see the incontrovertible logic in what appeared to be quixotic ravings by the President about free trade with Colombia, Pell Grant for Kids and the surge in Iraq. In Iraq, General Petraeus tells us we must continue to feed in troops for another ten years. There is no way the military can recruit these freedom fighters unless our lower income youth are high, hooked and desperate. Don’t say, ‘crack vials,’ they’re, ‘Democracy Rocks’!

The plan would have been clearer if Mr. Bush had kept in his speech the line from his original draft which read, “I have ordered 30,000 additional troops to Iraq this year — and I am proud to say my military-age kids are not among them.”

Of course, there’s an effective alternative to Mr. Bush’s plan — which won’t cost a penny more. Simply turn it upside down. Let’s give each millionaire in America a $20 bill, and every poor child $287,000.

And, there’s an added benefit to this alternative. Had we turned Mr. Bush and his plan upside down, he could have spoken to Congress from his heart.

Greg Palast (Rolling Stone, Guardian, BBC) is the author of the New York Times bestsellers, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits and the book and documentary, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. His latest film is Vigilante: Georgia's Vote Suppression Hitman. Read other articles by Greg, or visit Greg's website.

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  1. Bill said on January 31st, 2008 at 6:25am #

    I like so many thinking americans will be SO glad when this psychotic fool of a president is out of office. No doubt we will be cleaning up his messes left behind for generations to come.

    Imagine what kind of country we could have had if all the money given to the rich and spent for war were actually spent on the country itself? We could have had an updated infrastructure; a more sound economy, help for the poor and better schools.

    Instead, we get to see the constant deterioration of our place in the world. As things collapse more, the political rhetoric of our over paid politicians increases and Britney Spears as a news topic reaches almost laughable proportions.

    But yeah, if the blind and greedy politicians want to have endless wars for profit under the guise of pretecting the “homeland” while ignoring the problems that exist outside of their palacial gated communities, they will soon find themselves in a country not much worth protecting.

    God(dess) help us all.


    PS – If your are a God fearing Christian and you are offended of my use of the word goddess – hold your tongue. It is by the support of your fellow sheep….errr – followers who gave the powers that be support for their destructive endeavors in the first place. They threw at you a couple of emoti0nal crumbs to choke on, i.e. GAY MARRIAGE and RIGHT TO LIFE – While pushing their agenda for war. And you ate that crap up like maggots.

    At this point I don’t give a damn who’s sleeping with who or what a woman choses to do with her body. Those issues are the business of the people involved in the situation.

    You scream for right to life until the person is of military age then you can’t go to war fast enough to go after a perceived NON-Christian enemy.

    BTW – Who WOULD Jesus bomb?