The state of the union? Resistant

Paul O’Rourke-Babb is a health practitioner who works at Feather River Tribal Health in Oroville. He has also visited Iraq in recent years.

State of the Union speeches traditionally have been times for presidents to give “stump” speeches, to jolly us up about our “potential” or our great “duty.” So I wasn’t expecting much from G. W. (Global Warming) Bush’s contribution to this fiction. A responsible address could find much to say about dealing with what troubles us as a nation, but why bother? Fear-mongering as foreign policy produces that much-needed paralysis—a prerequisite to the rich 5 percent stealing everything the rest of us create.

Domestic policy? Empty-headed and cynical plans for $870 billion in revenues (taxes) to go out of the public economy (that’s us) and into the same corporate hands that destroyed the pensions of 650,000 older Americans and laid off 680,000 workers as part of our last “jobs bill.” Sixty percent of the richest corporations now don’t even pay any taxes. But one child in five goes to bed hungry.

As for health care (42 million with no insurance in the most expensive system on the planet): Contrary to all rational risk pool insurance rules, Mr. Bush wants to break up Medicare (3 percent overhead) and give elderly people their “choice” of more expensive private (24 percent overhead) plans—if the HMOs will take them. In return he’ll give them a prescription benefit that pays for 20 percent of typical costs.

Even more outrageous, with 20 million people living under the poverty level, middle-class bankruptcies increasing, and one adult in five reading below fifth-grade level, the Bushites have nothing to say about education, living wages or housing.

A healthy environment is of primary importance to Americans. Mr. Bush’s plan is to roll back safeguards, circumvent protections and make the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration exempt from Freedom of Information Act rules requiring public access to information. Of course he forgot to mention that, too.

Back to foreign policy. The U.S. military drops radioactive bombs on Afghans. This administration gives billions of dollars to a new biological-weapons manufacturing program in Livermore, Calif. It pulls out of the ABM treaty, threatens countries with first-strike “pre-emptive” nuclear weapons, refuses to participate in the International Court or a world conference on racism. It won’t join 100 nations in a treaty to get rid of persistent organic pesticide poisons. It helps international corporations force genetically sterilized seed on developing countries and poisons Colombian farmers with aerial pesticides. Then, after continuing to impose sanctions that have killed 1.7 million Iraqis, it wants to make war on that country because its leader poses a threat. Is it any wonder we’re worried about the State of the Union?

The real state of the union is that we’re not putting up with it anymore. There were 117 million calls to Congress in three months, 40-to-1 against the war. Hundreds of thousands in our streets and local communities are developing concrete alternatives. American labor unions, environmental activists, old people, youth and small-business people want peace, jobs, health care and justice. Join in, plug in to alternative news sites, and we all win.