04 July 2005

Dubya vs. The World

In the wake of the Live 8 concerts, which stressed idealism and action, and left me in a rather good mood, The Guardian today carried an interview with George W. Bush (I refuse to call him the President, as he does not represent me, and his election results were questionable both times).

Bush was quoted as saying that he would put America's interest first, ahead of the developing nations. Sure, it sounds patriotic and good. Except that he has not been putting the interests of the average American first, ever. He is watching silently as American jobs continue to be outsourced to sweatshops in China, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and other places. There is almost nothing left for the average American worker to do. Perhaps his compassion and aid consists of handing these countries American jobs, because a sweatshop job is better than no job, I guess. The only Americans Bush cares for are the ones running the corporations responsible for these outsourcings (and much of Bush's political contributions).

Based on what I've noticed when I lived in Arizona, a state of the working poor, I feel that when the average Americans lose their wealth and spending power, the economy can no longer sustain itself, and neither can the processes of capitalism. The small-scale entrepreneurs who are always credited with driving the American economy (conservatives from Sam Walton to Bush himself have praised them all the time) will no longer have customers with enough of a disposable income to buy their products and services. I know it, having tried to do sales in Tucson, where even experienced engineers barely get paid $30,000 per year thanks to a slew of anti-labor laws. Only the elite few would make any money in this kind of economy, which would have more in common with feudalism than with capitalism.

Moreover, expanding this to the global scale, aid to African countries is only good in the long run, because this creates wealth for the Africans, which they can use to buy products and services from American companies. The goodwill we would have built up in the process helps immensely as well. Bush does not see this. All he sees is an "us against them" mentality, where he feels that if someone else becomes better off, America loses. I think the lost potential goodwill is really hurting America as not only Africans, but Europeans and Asians, like America less and less, and stay away from American products and services as much as possible.

If Bush wants to truly put American interests first, the correct approach would be to offer generous aid and jump-start the failing African economies. After all, it can only generate new markets for American products and services, and that's always a good capitalistic thinking. Fostering international goodwill further by complying with the Kyoto Protocol and other global treaties will serve to establish the US as the global model citizen that other nations will envy and follow. I will discuss the Kyoto Protocol, and Bush's refusal to support it, in a separate post.