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Optimism in the Headlines? Hardly!

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Message E. T. SIMON
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"This morning we got some good news: The nation added 121,000 new jobs
for the month of June..."
George W. Bush
News Conference - Chicago 7/7/06

In his July 7, 2006, George W. Bush celebrated the creation of 121,000 new jobs around the nation for the month of June. In a nation of millions of inhabitants, surely, 121,000 new jobs in one month is like trying to find spit in the vast oceans of this planet. Bush may have had an inkling about the fact that 121,000 jobs is really pittance in a nation as vast and wide as this and, hardly a cause for celebration because he added, "That's 5.4 million jobs since August of 2003." I will leave it to the statisticians to decide whether 5.4 million jobs since August of 2003 is a another one of Bush's cause célèbre, or not, but I will forever wonder, where on this earth, and in this country, or in this world, have these jobs been created?

The headline for the local newspaper yesterday, Sunday, July 9th, was, "Owners losing homes". Foreclosures are up. People around here are hanging on to their jobs for dear life. And, jobs that afforded them a worry-free breakfast in the comfort of their homes each morning, hardly affords them that worry-free breakfast anymore.

Bush plows on, however. "People are better off. Things are working." He says. Yes. Perhaps they are working for him, and for the Halliburton crowd, and the Exxon Mobile crowd, but I hardly think that they are working for county and city employees, pool cleaning services, fence installers, pipe fitters, office workers, or, I dare say, even for doctors who bill HMOs for services rendered to HMO subscribers only to have payment for services rendered slashed more than 50% by most of the HMO companies.

Keeping economic vitality alive, he says, is a fundamental question faced by himself and others in Washington. "What are the policies necessary to keep this growth strong?" He wonders. Get ready for the butcher's knife now because he wants to keep taxes low. "One policy is to keep taxes low. If you raise taxes, you take money out of the pockets of small businesses and entrepreneurs, which makes it harder to increase employment."
He said.

As a former solo practitioner in mental health counseling-something that qualifies me to say I once owned a small non-profit business, paying taxes never broke my back. And it made the nation better off when there was money, collected through our taxes, to keep up with our infrastructure; money to go to our States, to go to our counties, to go to the cities and towns in our counties to pay for the upkeep of our roads and highways and hospitals (hey! Those were jobs and people worked at them, and they got paid a salary, and they ate a breakfast free from worries in the comfort of their homes each morning as they prepared to go to work). As a result of a government which collected taxes, our property taxes were kept low and within easy reach of our pockets. Gasoline prices were affordable and people could commute to and from work, without having to worry whether filling up the gas tank was going to eat-up all of their hard-worked, hard-earned, wages, and whether they were going to have to quit work and hope to find some equal paying job near their homes. Food was affordable. The cost of transporting food from one state to another across our nation's highways was not prohibitive. Due to the cost of gas prices today, Supermarket prices are becoming mind-boggling and oxygen snuffing. Many tables go without, one or another, essential nourishment, but, I am willing to wager, that, like his father in 1992, Bush has no idea of what goes on in supermarkets and at supermarket counters across the nation where people tell cashiers, "This is what I have. If the amount on my shopping bag exceeds this, then I am going to have to put some things back."

I still fail to see how raising taxes makes it harder to increase employment. I am about to believe (or, I already believe) that tax collecting is about keeping the middle class healthy, thriving, and alive. Perhaps raising taxes, or tax collecting, is something that goes counter to the ambitions of power grabbers, elitists of any and every sort, garden variety snakes and evil sorts. It is certainly something that the Bushes have never believed in.

Bush also said, " way to make sure we continue to grow our economy is to have a work force that's capable of filling the jobs of the 21st century." He did not however clearly say what the jobs of our 21st century are.

Bush did go on to tout reading scores for Chicago area students. He said, "The mayor said something interesting. He said, reading scores are up. That's a good sign. It means people are measuring and teachers are teaching. And when you have the basic-you know, the basic foundation for a good education laid, then you can focus on math and science. So the truth of the matter is, we have to make sure our kids have got the math and science skills to fill the jobs of the 21st century."

But he seemed to leave an empty there, a void: what are the jobs of the 21st century that need math and science skills? And are we going to develop people with math and science skills without giving them the benefits of a well rounded education? An education which would also help in developing the side of their human equation which teaches them to think, to feel, to have empathy?

Or, has training in and learning of any of the Humanities become something to be had only by the elite and the children of the elite? Why do I think that Bush was only talking about masses of workers taught to press a level on an x-ray machine, or to press a key on a computer board, or ... But when all of that is done, then what? Should the masses not have an appreciation of philosophy, art, music? Should they not be able to go home and enter the land of those higher instincts and learning that have moved civilized societies forward from time immemorial? Has that no been the charge of education, including the masses?

Did Bush himself ever learn the basics of a good education? Is this the reason why our country has been set adrift by him?
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