The Peace Dividend
   by  John DePaola

When the cold war ended due to the internal collapse of the Communism,
none of us were really surprised.  After all, here was a group of nations who
couldn’t bake bread, let alone challenge the greatest country on earth.
Communism self-imploded, collapsing from their own weight, and we were
fortunate enough to be around when it happened.  But there was a big up-side
for the United States.  Remember the “peace dividend”?

For decades, our nation had been armed to the teeth just to defend ourselves
from the hapless Soviet block.  Now with the failure of this doomed system,
we were told by our leaders that finally, there would be more money available
for important national concerns.  But only after President Bill Clinton fixed the
economic disaster left to him by Reaganomics.  So with wise political decisions,
fiscal responsibility, and a brilliant slate of economic advisors, the Democratic
president focussed “like a laser beam” on our nation’s economic woes.

His successes are legendary.  A stock market that went from 3,200 to 10,800;
an unemployment rate that went from 7.3% to 4.0%, a $290 billion annual
deficit that became a $230 billion yearly surplus.

So it worked.  We finally had the country on the economic right track
and thankfully had proven that supply side economics was a big lie. Now
it was time for the peace dividend. Time to help those at the lower end
of the income spectrum who had not done as well as those at the top.
But suddenly, this peace dividend is nowhere to be found because it will
all been given away in Mr. Bush’s ill-conceived tax cut.

How about building an education system for all children, so we honestly
could brag about being “world class”? What about cleaning up our
polluted air and water, and investing in clean cars and clean energy to
build an environmentally sound future? What about helping senior citizens
with a prescription drug benefit to reduce the burden of soaring drug costs.
Maybe healthcare for 43 million uninsured citizens?  Better highways and
national infrastructure? How about a new air traffic control system that really
works?  And, since, as the only remaining superpower, we wouldn't be needing
such a large defense industry, what markets might exists for our defense companies?
This is America.  We can do anything if we just work together to solve our
pressing problems.

Wrong again.  The money is now gone, crippling our nation for years to
come because of the stranglehold the tax cut will place on the
appropriations process.  And things will only get worse, simply for the
fact that after the tax cut, there just will not be any money left to do
important national works.  President Bill Clinton worked hard to ensure
that we as a nation received a substantial peace dividend that was due
all of us.  Mr. Bush and his congressional cronies have just given it all away.

John DePaola
Spotsylvania, VA

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