Imagine a world where people are at peace, where education and other social needs are cheaper and where everyone can work, make money and not worry about huge bills. Wow, what a nice place that would be.

Thankfully, President Bush is doing his part to make sure this is the result — on a few conditions. First, you cannot live in Iraq. Second, you must be filthy rich and make over $300,000 a year and third you must not expect anything from the government — only from private companies. After all, this is the “compassionate conservatism” that President Bush laid out to the American public in his State of the Union Address and his plans towards making our nation better.

Bush said his first goal to help the nation was to fix the economy. In the two years Bush has been around we’ve seen the opposite of what is considered a good economy. In Bush’s insane view, the idea is to give the richest Americans more money back through more tax cuts — a.k.a. Voodoo Economics. Tax cuts are a great idea, but wouldn’t it be best to give them to the majority of the people and not the few richest? This year many of us will be graduating, but don’t count on finding a good job.

President Bush argued in his speech about averages and how people will be getting more money back. In reality, the money coming back will be smaller than his estimates and do little to help the public pay for the increasing costs of living.

It makes sense, instead, to suggest an increase in the minimum wage to a working wage and extend emergency unemployment benefits to the millions of people put out of a job.

Most importantly, Bush should balance the budget and get us out of a deficit. I doubt that an increase in military funding will make our nation significantly safer. However, by devoting this money to social programs we can surely help increase the quality of life.

Bush’s speech begs for fiscal discipline, but the New York Times estimated that the President plans to spend $2.5 trillion over the next 10 years. Or wait — I get it — Bush is trying to bring back the wonderful, sunny, happy 1980s. Oh joy, what a happy and prosperous time we’ll be having in our future.

Compassionate conservatism goes farther than that. To begin with, where is a mention of affirmative action? A plan designed to help minorities and the less fortunate attend college is ignored in the President’s speech.

Perhaps Bush thinks that only people with his economic status deserve an education. By not increasing the funding for our grants and loans to keep up with inflation, it is estimated that students will lose $1.4 billion that should have gone to them. Remember this as you see your tuition bill increase this year.

Not that our education is important. After all, our wise President has a plan to keep us alive. By overhauling Medicare, it is most likely that you’ll be stuck in an HMO when you get older.

Instead of offering solutions that help all Americans, the President wants to put government services into the hands of religious organizations — organizations that are free to refuse service to anyone they choose. It makes me wonder if Bush has ever heard of separation of church and state or helping others without demanding something in return. Oh well, I guess we should be thankful if our President can speak a phrase and understand it.

The upcoming war with Iraq is an important issue. There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein is an evil man who has done many bad things. But what about our allies’ support? France, Germany, Russia, China, and others have demanded more time for inspectors. To expect that they will be able to find Hussein’s weapons in a short few weeks is ridiculous.Instead, Bush has made a war with Iraq inevitable. Nearly all Americans and Iraqis believe this.

Bush made the war on terror the focus of his speech, and also the focus of his budget increase. As a man with a strong belief in accountability, I ask where Osama Bin Laden is. Did he disappear? After all, Bin Laden was the one who caused September 11– shouldn’t he be the one we go after while we keep Hussein busy with inspectors? By going to war with Iraq, Bush loses the focus of the war on terror. No doubt, a war in the Middle East will only exacerbate problems and give America the image of a bully. Funny to think at one time our nation was well-received in the world.

Fortunately, Bush did propose some good ideas in his speech. Money to help fight AIDS had been fought over for years and it’s nice to see Bush paying attention. Hydrogen cars seem like a really cool idea and will help to reverse the damage that Bush’s environmental policies cause our planet. But while adding a few other programs to help people, Bush basically skims over the details and leaves us with a good feeling that he is helping us. However, you can bet your red rider that his plans aren’t as simple and nice as they seem.

A focus on the rich, a war in Iraq and a decrease in social spending is the Bush solution to nearly everything. Is simply throwing money the solution to our current problems? Doubtful, but taking Bush to an elementary school for some addition and simple grammar would be a start. The President needs to put away the frivolous ideas in his State of the Union Address and focus on more critical issues that affect the common man in America today. Without a change in policy or action, President Bush is essentially telling the American people to “go home and die.”

Gifford is a senior and can be reached at jgifford@campustimes.org.



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