(FinalCall.com) — The United States is poised to launch a thoughtless war against Iraq while her own cities are deteriorating right before our eyes. The schools are in worse shape than the sewers.
Hundreds of mayors made these complaints in Washington recently at the winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington. They issued a stinging report, which revealed that since President George W. Bush took office, 213 municipal areas have lost a total of more than 646,000 jobs.
The President, however, may have the last laugh. In an impassioned, private speech before 300 mayors, Mr. Bush managed to convince many of them that he is their “partner,” and that he harbors the best of intentions toward their cities. The mayors came out of the meeting sounding like a cheering squad.
“Why we came out as a cheering squad? I think we came out, across party lines, because he was so passionate. He was on fire today, and he talked about the things that are of concern to us,” Senator Norm Coleman, the former mayor of Minneapolis told reporters at the White House, following their meeting with the President.
But Mr. Bush’s rousing speech may have masked the fact that he has chosen a course seeking absolute world military dominance instead of collective world security, and the price for this new military posture may be borne by local governments which will see their share of federal revenues decrease while military spending increases dramatically.
But cities are as important to national defense, as foreign military conquests, according to Felix Rohatyn, former U.S. Ambassador to France and former Chair of the Municipal Assistance Corp. of New York.
“We cannot tolerate a situation whereby we simultaneously spend hundreds of billions to fight a war in Iraq as part of a global fight against terrorism, and simultaneously have to lay off policemen in New York, who are our fist line of defense against domestic terrorism,” Mr. Rohatyn told the mayors’ closing plenary.
“The health of our cities is just as important as a security issue to homeland security, as making sure that we win in Iraq. We can’t win in Iraq and then lose the battle of terrorism at home because we haven’t made enough investments, whether it’s in infrastructure, health or whatever,” Mr. Rohatyn said.
The Bush administration does have an answer to the mounting problems of the cities. It’s his “Faith-Based Initiatives” and volunteerism. The President firmly believes that churches and synagogues and even mosques throughout the country are actually closer to the people in need than the government, and that they can deliver the assistance to help low income people, if bureaucratic red tape is eliminated and just a little money is made available to them.
Like his oversimplified scheme to invest future Social Security taxes in individual accounts in the stock market, Mr. Bush’s solution for the cities has not been tried, and it has not been proven to be more effective than the public agencies and employees his plan would replace.
A better strategy to present to the mayors would be to redirect his single focus of bringing down Saddam Hussein toward funneling the billions now being misspent into rebuilding the forgotten cities.
Unfortunately, even the mayors didn’t see it that way. And if they did, they didn’t have the nerve to say it.