Archive - Sep 2007 - Editorial
In a slick move, the Bush administration has usurped Congress’ ability to write into law regulations to protect the public. The move came this week via an executive order that directed all federal agencies to brief the White House before any agency directive went into effect if the regulations had an economic impact of more than $100 million annually. The directive also puts a White House appointee as the gatekeeper over agencies that regulate domestic laws pertaining to public health, safety, the environment, civil rights and privacy.
“The executive order allows the political staff at the White House to dictate decisions on health and safety issues, even if the government’s own impartial experts disagree,” said Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. “This is a terrible way to govern, but great news for special interests.”
This past Tuesday the federal minimum wage was raised for the first time in a decade. Workers who had been earning just $5.15 per hour will see their pay jump 70 cents to $5.85. That’s meager progress, but the law enacted for this year’s wage increase also stipulated jumps of 70 cents per hour for the next two summers to follow — meaning the wage will go to $6.55 in 2008 and $7.25 in 2009. But is it enough?
A little math helps put the numbers in perspective: Someone earning $5.15 per hour and working a 40-hour week pulls in $10,712 per year; at $5.85 per hour, they’ll earn $12,168 annually; at $6.55, they’ll earn $13,624; and at $7.25, they’ll make $15,080. The net effect of the legislation, therefore, is an effective increase for minimum wage earners of $4,368 annually — a significant amount of money and huge percentage increase.
For the past four years, many Americans have watched in disbelief as the Bush administration has led this nation into war with Iraq under false pretenses, scared the public with lame threats of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, waved the flag of patriotism in times of political need (rather than national unity), and has changed the terms of engagement in Iraq. All of this has been done to suit the political needs of this president. This past weekend Bush was at it again — going on a surprise photo-op and propaganda blitz in Iraq to build support for continuing his failed policy.
The question Americans must ask themselves is plain: When are they going to demand an honest accounting and assessment of the war effort and consequent action that puts the needs of the nation ahead of domestic politics?
In a recent column in The New York Times, Paul Krugman poses a question that is less cynical and more sincere than it might at first appeal. “Future historians will, without doubt, see Katrina as a turning point,” he wrote. “The question is whether it will be seen as the moment when America remembered the importance of good government, or the moment when neglect and obliviousness to the needs of others became the new American way.”
In the past, such a cynical question could be answered positively with confidence. Today, unfortunately, the answer to that question is a matter of national soul-searching.
Just what kind of a country are we? Under this administration, policies have routinely and continuously passed that hurt the poor and favor the wealthy; they have benefited industry at the expense of our environment; they’ve worked to break down the public school system; have eroded our national infrastructure; depleted the nation’s armed forces and discredited the nation’s foreign policy on the world stage.