New Year's Questions That Predict A Gloomy Future
By Dave Chandler
I'm not psychic. If I were I'd be rich enough to pay Bill Gates to figure out why my computer freezes up every other day. However, I do think that informed, intelligent people can ask questions that may reasonably foreshadow the direction of future events.
That's what I've done here for the year 2001 and beyond. I've taken my anti-royalist, anti-Bush bias and constructed a few questions about the future that - when answered - may tell us what we have to look forward to during the next four years. My bias comes from the premise that George W. Bush is the least competent individual to reside in the White House since Warren Harding and that past - the first George Bush regime - is prologue.
Someone could draft an alternative set of pro-Bush questions, but I'll leave it to the lesser informed and the monarchistically-predisposed to paint the picture of the utopia they fervently hope young George and old Dick Cheney will visit upon America.
So here goes.
Eight years of solid Clinton-Gore economic policy have allowed Americans to enjoy the greatest prosperity in human history. Bush and Cheney have pledged to change direction, promising a huge tax-cut. In all likelihood responsible Democrats in the U.S. House and Senate will rein-in this give-away to Bush's super-rich friends, but if they get a big enough tax-cut:
* How high will the inflation rate rise?
* When will mortgage rates top ten percent?
* Unemployment will top-out at what percentage of the work force?
* In what year will we see the first return of federal deficit spending?
* When will the Bush recession kick-in?
Young Bush seems to think that former President Bush employees Dick Cheney, Colin Powell and 'Condi' Rice will bring experience to U.S. foreign policy. He maybe hoping that with this kind of 'stature' staff he never will have to learn the names and capitals of all those foreign countries. But the so-called "Powell Doctrine" is that you don't use the military unless you can project overwhelming force and win completely. Now that sounds simple enough but it severely restricts your options in a not so simply world. So if George II really leaves foreign policy to his father's old strategists:
* How long will it be until the U.S. is engaged in an all-out military confrontation?
* Where and how will Saddam Hussein seek his revenge upon the Bush-Cheney-Powell gang that bloodied him up but left him in power? Will we see Gulf War 2, especially if Bush is in political trouble?
* Since Bush said during the campaign that U.S. involvement in Haiti was a mistake, if a Caribbean crises arises where will Haitian, or Cuban, or Dominican Republic refugees be housed? Jebby's Florida, maybe?
* Since Powell believes in overwhelming force, if China and Taiwan go to war, will the U.S. be ultimately compelled to use nuclear weapons to defeat Beijing?
* Since Bush doesn't believe in "nation-building" (unlike his daddy and President Clinton) how many authoritarian regimes will be embolden to massacre how many of their own citizens?
The Environment and Energy
Since Bush apparently believes in less federal and more state and local control (except when counting presidential votes, of course), when it comes to environmental and energy decisions there will be adjustments. We can probably expect a revival of the so-called "Sage Brush Rebellion" of the Reagan years that purported to want less 'Warshin'ton gubment' influence in the west. Environmental concerns will certainly take a backseat to the interests of corporate profits, so:
* How hard will Bush and his oil patch buddies push to open-up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling?
* When will Dick Cheney announce a reevaluation of the ban on off-shore drilling along the California coast and in the Gulf of Mexico?
* How large an increase in the federal budget will be proposed to subsidize more road-building in national forests for multi-national corporate loggers?
* Bush and the GOP ridiculed Vice President Gore for his promotion of new energy technologies, consequently there will be increased reliance on fossil fuels. When will we be paying $3.00 a gallon for gasoline?
* Will rolling electrical blackouts move from the west coast to the rest of the nation?
* What military steps will be contemplated or taken to ensure that Middle East oil flows uninterrupted to the U.S.A?
Finally, though the Nation Rifle Association and the religious right-wing kept quiet during the 2000 presidential campaign to help grease the skids for the Bush Restoration, they will certainly want their political pay-off. But during the Clinton years abortion, crime, welfare rolls, etc., have all declined. What do Charlton Heston, Jerry Falwell, and Pat Robertson really want?
* When will repeal of the Brady Bill be offered? Who will propose that the ban on the importation of assault weapons be lifted?
* How much of an increase in the federal budget will there be for tobacco subsidies to multi-national corporations so they can sell more cigarettes abroad?
* After Roe v. Wade is reversed by the new Bush Supreme Court, what kind of anti-birth control case will make its way up the judicial ladder?
* What will the Bush legislative proposal to punish the entertainment industry look like?
* Most of the recent Republican concern over moral decline was arguably a cover under which to attack the Clintons. How long before radical Senate Republicans suggest some sort of investigation of Sen. Hillary Clinton? What kind of pretext will radical House Republicans come up with to launch post-presidential investigations of Bill Clinton?
* How soon will Bill Bennett and congressional Republicans become the new 'moral relativists' and claim that corruption and ethical misbehavior in the Bush White House is "different"?
I suppose some will say that these questions set up false choices and are based on false premises, but this is politics. Whoever said government and politics operated under the rules of logic? The point is that most of the above questions are based on the big issues and problems confronting the nation - now. The answers, at least, imply what kind of future we will all be facing very soon.
The point of considering these questions is to seriously alert Americans - most of whom voted for Al Gore - that our peace and prosperity depends upon them writing their congressional representatives and imploring them to continue the successful Clinton-Gore economic and foreign policies.
Or we can just hope that everything will turn-out fine and that the good times will keep on rolling without a hiccup for the next four years .... Yeah, right.
Dave Chandler lives in Arvada, Colorado.
He is publisher of the environmental and political web site earthside.com