OK. I've never been a fan of George W. Bush.
I have disagreed with the Bush administration on most of its policies. I have been disgusted at its willingness to put the interests of the richest Americans ahead of the long-term national welfare. I have been outraged at the lies and dissembling it has offered as explanations for many of its actions. I have been appalled at the incompetence it has applied to such tasks as rebuilding Iraq or responding to this hurricane. I have shaken my head and sighed at the way it values loyalty and cronyism over competence and integrity.
But starting today, I really, actively hate the man.
Here's why. Ever hear of the Davis-Beacon Act of 1931?
"The Davis-Bacon Act, as amended, requires that each contract over $2,000 to which the United States or the District of Columbia is a party for the construction, alteration, or repair of public buildings or public works shall contain a clause setting forth the minimum wages to be paid to various classes of laborers and mechanics employed under the contract. Under the provisions of the Act, contractors or their subcontractors are to pay workers employed directly upon the site of the work no less than the locally prevailing wages and fringe benefits paid on projects of a similar character."
On Thursday, by executive order, Bush suspended the Act with regards to reconstruction contracts in the areas stricken by Hurricane Katrina.
The White House isn't exactly trumpeting this action. I'm sure if asked, they would maintain that it will help keep the costs of reconstruction under control and speed up the recovery process.
Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit.
Here we have a situation where hundreds of thousands of people have lost their homes and practically everything they have. So many businesses were damaged or destroyed that unemployment is certain to surge in the short term. This hurricane hit mainly in areas that were already among the poorest in the nation, and now untold thousands have no idea what the future may hold.
The one possible cause for optimism is that clearly the clean-up and rebuilding of the stricken areas is something that's going to require thousands of people, of all levels of skill: from professional engineers and architects, to skilled carpenters, bricklayers, equipment operators, and so forth, down to entry-level unskilled labor.
Now the President is going to let the companies our government is hiring with our money pay these people -- meaning the ones at the low end, of course; I'm not so worried that the engineers will be starving -- poverty-level wages as they strive to re-create infrastructure and housing in the area of the worst natural disaster in the nation's history. (The "prevailing wage" in the area has been cited as around $9/hour for these kinds of entry-level construction jobs -- hardly an inflated wage.)
How much is that worth to you, Mr. President? How much is Haliburton going to kick into the Republican coffers for this favor? How much are their profits going to go up next year? Or do you expect that they'll pass those labor savings on to the taxpayers? Oh, please!
Never mind that wages for workers and the middle class have declined in real terms over the past few years, while wages in the upper brackets have skyrocketed (and their taxes have declined). Never mind that the purchasing power of the minimum wage is the second-lowest it's been since 1955, and the lowest against the average wage paid non-supervisory workers since 1949. Never mind that while gas prices soar to $3 a gallon and more, and we are continually warned of shortages in refining capacities and future price increases, the major oil companies are continuing to rake in record profits every quarter. I don't expect this administration to give a damn about any of that.
But this is just over the freaking top. First the administration completely screws up the reaction to the disaster; now they're preparing to directly screw the workers yet again. Did it even occur to him that well-paid recovery workers would be able to spend the money and create even more jobs in the stricken area? Did it maybe occur to him that it would just be the fair thing to do, rather than using the disaster as an excuse to take advantage of an already desperate populace?
Fuck you, Mr. President. I've held off saying that up to now out of respect for your office. But you don't deserve that respect. You have no compassion and no conscience. You are a liar, and a poor one. There may be little I can do about it but to vent about how I feel; thank God you haven't managed to take that right away yet.
I expect to see you in Hell, Mr. President. And I expect you to try to convince me you're surprised to be there. Because you haven't got an honest cell in your brain or body