Monday, September 19, 2005

Why The Poor Will Always Be With Us 

Digby is kind enough to post a Wall Street Journal piece a friend sent him so ALL non-subscribing readers can have strokes. Dancing on the graves of those who died to provide them this opportunity, Republican zealots in Congress are crowing about enterprise zones, the murder of union representation, and wresting the legal system from those who might want to complain. Here's some of what gets these necrophiliacs hard:
"Just yesterday (the Bush administration) waived some affirmative-action rules for employers with federal contracts in the Gulf region."
Well, yes, because you know how hard it is to find blacks and Asians down there, and hell, you can hardly find women anywhere.
"Now, Republicans are working on legislation that would limit victims' right to sue, offer vouchers for displaced school children, lift some environment restrictions on new refineries and...Yesterday, the House overwhelmingly passed a bill that would offer sweeping protection against lawsuits to any person or organization that helps Katrina victims without compensation."
Last thing you want is for people to demand recompense for losing their loved ones or everything they own by suing the assholes who could have prevented it. And never mind that much of the damage caused by the hurricane was the result of the destruction of the wetlands barrier around NOLA thanks to a callous disregard for environmental concerns over the last 20 years. Who needs environmental restrictions when there's lots more money to be made by the people who won't have to live with the result? School vouchers? All the better to eliminate that nasty universal free education cancer that resulted in all these over-educated drones thinking they actually had the right to expect a decent living. And as for protection against lawsuits for those helping Katrina victims, think of the experiments that could be done? All those folks exposed to toxic chemicals and bacteria! Why, I'll bet the EPA would have a field day mining that rich vein of poor people! Just offer them a nice baby bib and a video camera.
""The desire to bring conservative, free-market ideas to the Gulf Coast is white hot," says Rep. Mike Pence, the Indiana Republican who leads the Republican Study Group, an influential caucus of conservative House members. "We want to turn the Gulf Coast into a magnet for free enterprise. The last thing we want is a federal city where New Orleans once was."
Many of the ideas under consideration have been pushed by the 40-member study group, which is circulating a list of "free-market solutions," including proposals to eliminate regulatory barriers to awarding federal funds to religious groups housing hurricane victims, waiving the estate tax for deaths in the storm-affected states; and making the entire region a "flat-tax free-enterprise zone."
Members of the group met in a closed session Tuesday night at the conservative Heritage Foundation headquarters here to map strategy. Edwin Meese, the former Reagan administration attorney general, has been actively involved."
That's right, you old fogeys who can remember his name...Edwin Meese, the Alberto Gonzales of the Reagan years, who gave his sound legal imprimatur Reagan's secret plan to sell weapons to Iran.No doubt he'll be useful here. This kind of weasel-work is right up his alley. Does anyone elese here think this sounds like some kind of vulturine star chamber?

And just in case you thought they learned anything from the spike in gasoline prices right after the hurricane, you can just disabuse yourself of that:
"Republicans, meanwhile, say they will also press for a new round of energy concessions, including incentives to rebuild and expand offshore drilling and clear the way for new refineries that were dropped from a 500-page energy bill that passed last month.
House Energy and Commerce Chairman Joe Barton of Texas and Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman James Inhofe are working on bills that would encourage refineries to build new plants and expand existing ones by rolling back environmental rules and making it easier for refineries to navigate regulatory channels in Washington."
Oh, those poor oil companies! All those bulging government subsidies and record-breaking profits, but it's never enough, is it? No, theyve got to be coaxed into making more money:
"The National Petrochemical & Refineries Association would like lawmakers to reduce the depreciation period from 10 years to five years in order to stimulate investment."
Because, you know, they're just so gun-shy about making investments in refinery-building, what with the fact that we're running out of product to refine and how the hell else are they going to maintain those profits unless they can convince the American taxpayer to keep throwing money down that black hole?

If they porked up this kind of deal to benefit the poor and infirm, reactionaries all over the map would be screaming about "responsibility" and "hand-holding" and how we're actually hurting the poor by helping them. But when it goes to a good cause--making money for those who already have it--why, no kickback is too outrageous, too shameful to propose.

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