189 Billion Lbs. of |Fried Chicken

     For 30 years I’ve been playing a little game at the supermarket. I estimate the bill by counting the number of items in the cart, and multiplying.
     Thirty-some years ago, I multiplied by $1. Thirty things in the cart, $30, more or less.
     Four years ago, it was up to $2. Thirty things in the cart, $60, or pretty close.
     This year I started multiplying by $3. This week I had to multiply by $4.40.
     That’s not a ruinous inflation over 30 years, but it’s pretty alarming inflation for the past 6 months.
     It’s an indication of the vicious economic tailspin the country is suffering, a cost runup that falls most heavily on the poor.
     Even more than gasoline prices, food prices demonstrate the disastrous economic stewardship of the Bush administration.
     Now it’s the Fourth of July weekend: the most patriotic holiday in a country whose people, perhaps more than any other in the developed world, pride themselves on their patriotism. For millions of Americans, me included, backyard barbecues will be a big part of this weekend’s celebrations.
     Corn on the cob? U.S. corn prices have quadrupled in Bush’s second term – and one-third of that corn will not feed people, but will be stuffed into cars’ gas tanks.
     Chicken cost $5.29 a pound at the supermarket last week. Regular chicken.
     That’s insane.
     Why is this happening?
     The national debt has increased by $3 trillion under President Bush.
     When a country runs a $400 billion annual deficit, it is inevitable that the government will inflate its currency, to make it easier to pay down the debt.
     When Bush took office, the euro was struggling to maintain parity with the dollar. Now a euro is worth $1.60.
     Sixty percent depreciation of the dollar, all by itself, would drive the price of a gallon of foreign gasoline from $2.50 to $4.
     At least half of that $3 trillion has been squandered, and simply stolen, in Iraq. The inflation and depreciation through which Bush is financing his war is economically laying waste our own country.
     One trillion dollars is a million million dollars. That’s enough money to make everyone in Cleveland, St. Louis, Charleston and Salt Lake City a millionaire.
     It’s enough to pay off the mortgage of every American family who lost their home to foreclosure in the past year – and to buy them another home worth more than the one they lost.
     It’s enough to buy every resident of Planet Earth 31½ lbs. of chicken to barbecue on the 4th of July – at $5.29 a pound.
     Bush has put our nation in thrall to a dying business – oil – while obstructing or ignoring the businesses of the future, renewable energy. It is as though, in the Internet age, Bush decided to bet all of our farms on the Mergenthaler linotype machine and the telegraph.
     Leave aside, for the moment, the government-sanctioned torture, the illegal wiretaps, the hundreds of thousands of dead and maimed, the war veterans dumped in filthy hospitals, and left without any medical care at all, and our national disgrace and loss of influence worldwide.
     Leave aside the sale of the National Park system to oil and gas companies, the toleration, indeed encouragement, of industrial air and water pollution, the corruption of the Department of Justice, and the millions of people losing their homes to corrupt mortgage companies and banks.
     On the price of bread and butter alone, George W. Bush is the worst president since Hoover, and the most corrupt one.
     And what, pray tell, are the hot issues in this year’s presidential campaign?
     None of the above.
     The campaigns, so help me, are fervently focused upon which candidate is the most patriotic: which one loves America more, and which one loves God more.
     Now, the classic wife beater insists, to his wife, to her family, and eventually to a jury, that he loved his wife. He loved her when he beat her, he loved her when he raped her, he loved her when he shot her, and he loved her when he killed her.
     It makes no difference whatsoever whether a wife beater claims that he loved his wife.
     And it makes no difference whether George W. Bush, or John McCain, or Barack Obama claims to love America more. What matters is what they do to it.
     If 300 million Americans continue to allow these men to ignore reality, and to stuff us full of meaningless tripe about patriotism and God, and if we allow our newspaper, radio and TV reporters to let them do it, then we will deserve whatever we get.
     I don’t know about you, my fellow, patriotic Americans, but I do not deserve it.
     Happy Fourth of July.

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