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As Long as We Remember...

March 3, 2003

The New Bush Economic Plan: Scare All Americans

Mike Kuster

Rush to the store and buy up all the plastic sheeting and duct tape you can get your hands on. Then, rush to the grocery and buy all the canned foods and bottled water in the store. Finally, call your doctor or the health department and demand to be vaccinated against every and all biological and chemical agents.

In a stroke of desperation, the Bush Administration recently implemented their newest economic plan. Facing a tremendous budget deficit and fledgling economy, the administration instructed citizens on the East Coast to rush to the stores and buy, buy, buy!

The tactic was flawless. Feed off of the fears of Americans to inject money into the economy.

Millions of citizens emptied the shelves of businesses. Duct tape is now the most coveted item in Wal-Mart and Lowe’s. Manufacturers of duct tape, plastic sheets, and bottled water expect their stocks to soar!

Of course, everyone should be prepared for any emergency by having three days worth of food and water. Duct tape and plastic, however, are not needed unless you plan on painting the walls and fixing, well, anything.

Duct tape and plastic will do nothing to protect citizens in the event of a chemical attack. First of all, you are not going to be able to seal yourself into your house tight enough to keep out these agents. If you did, you’ll suffocate before you are told to let yourself out. Lastly, the chances of any place outside of major cities being exposed to lethal amounts of chemical weapons are too slim to recommend this to the entire country.

Americans would get the same result if they all grabbed a plastic grocery bag and tied it around their necks. They run out of air and do not keep chemical agents out of their bodies.

So, the Bush administration announced an Orange Alert and urged people to buy up everything they need. Their plan worked, too. The news quickly featured poor lambs sealing their entire homes with duct tape and plastic.

One woman said she did it to prove to her children that she was actively working to protect them. Unfortunately, she was also sentencing them to poor air quality and possible suffocation.

In the meantime, state and local government agencies were left to deal with the real effects of their new economic plan. My office (in the Frederick County Health Department complex on Montevue Lane) has fielded countless calls from citizens wanting to know how much plastic, what kind of plastic, how much duct tape, what kind of duct tape is best, etc. They want their vaccinations promptly. Some even tried to use their relationship to elected officials to demand vaccination. State and local agencies are left with the brunt of work and forced to be the one’s to explain that people should not do what the federal government is recommending.

The largest problem with President Bush’s response to terrorism lies in the details. The President placed large sums of money in the budget for terrorism. This money, however, is staying largely at the federal level. There has been little money trickling down to the state and local agencies feeling the crunch of all of the new mandates and security measures.

His latest economic plan, a.k.a. Orange Alert, places further burden on the state and local agencies, and the retail outlets not prepared for an onslaught of duct tape and plastic sheet purchases. Who picks up the bill for all of these things? Maryland and almost every other state in The Union face large deficits. Those economic woes trickle down to county and municipal governments.

That is the only thing trickling down to the local government despite the pleas of mayors, county leaders, and governors to the President.

The President knows that his re-election in 2004 will have more to do with the economy than anything else. James Carville’s political advise in 1992 still applies; It’s the economy, stupid!

So, let’s drive people to spend their money every once in a while by raising the alert level to Orange. Next, we can pretend there’s going to be a dirty bomb and get people to purchase vitamins to keep radiation out of their thyroids.

The result is two-fold. First, people spend money to keep the economy limping along. Second, like the mother trying to show her children that she is protecting them, President Bush can point to all of his alerts to show he was working to protect us the best he could. We won’t mention the fact that he’s subjecting us to poor air quality and suffocating us.

Of course, we should all be prepared for the worst. We should heed our national security alert levels and do our best to contribute to the nation’s security. The first way to do this is to avoid panicking.

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