Dow Wow Wow
excerpted from the book
Stupid White Men
and other Sorry Excuses for
the State of the Nation
by Michael Moore
Your [Bush's] list of accomplishments-in
just your first few months in office - is brutally impressive.
* Cut $39 million from federal spending
* Cut $35 million in funding for advanced
pediatric training for doctors
* Cut funding for research into renewable
energy sources by 50 percent
* Delayed rules that would reduce "acceptable"
levels of arsenic in drinking water
* Cut funding for research into cleaner,
more efficient cars and trucks by 28 percent
* Revoked rules strengthening the power
of the government to deny contracts to companies that violate
federal laws, environmental laws, and workplace safety standards
* AIlowed Secretary of the Interior Gale
Norton to request suggestions for opening up national monuments
for foresting, coal mining, and oil and gas drilling
* Broken your campaign promise to invest
$100 million per year in rain forest conservation
* Reduced by 86 percent the Community
Access Program, which coordinated care for people without health
insurance among public hospitals, clinics, and other health care
* Nullified a proposal to increase public
access to information about the potential ramifications of chemical
* Cut funding for the Girls and Boys Clubs
of America programs in public housing by $60 million
* Pulled out of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol
agreement on global warming, ultimately signed by 178 other countries
* Rejected an international accord to
enforce the 1972 treaty banning germ warfare
* Cut $200 million from workforce training
programs for dislocated workers
* Cut $200 million from the Childcare
and Development grant, a program that provides child care to low-income
families as they are forced from welfare to work
* Eliminated prescription contraceptive
coverage to federal employees (though Viagra is still covered)
* Cut $700 million in funds for public
* Cut half a billion dollars from the
Environmental Protection Agency's budget
* Overturned workplace ergonomic rules
designed to protect workers' health and safety
* Abandoned your campaign pledge to regulate
carbon dioxide emissions, a major contributor to global warming
* Prohibited any federal aid from going
to international family planning organizations that provide abortion
counseling, referrals, or services with their own funds
* Nominated former mining company executive
Dan Lauriski as Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and
* Appointed Lynn Scarlett, a global warming
skeptic and an opponent of stricter standards on air pollution,
as Undersecretary of the Interior
* Approved Interior Secretary Gale Norton's
controversial plan to auction off areas close to Florida's eastern
shore for oil and gas development
* Announced your plans to allow oil drilling
in Montana's Lewis and Clark National Forest
* Threatened to shut down the White House
* Decided no longer to seek guidance from
the American Bar Association on federal judicial appointments
* Denied college financial aid to students
convicted of misdemeanor drug charges (though convicted murderers
are still eligible for financial aid)
* AIlocated only 3 percent of the amount
requested by Justice Department lawyers in the government's continued
litigation against tobacco companies
* Pushed through your tax cut, 43 percent
of which goes to the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans
* Signed a bill making it harder for poor
and middle-class Americans to file for bankruptcy, even when facing
overwhelming medical bills
* Appointed affirmative action opponent
Kay Cole James to direct the Office of Personnel Management
* Cut $15.7 million from programs dealing
with child abuse and neglect
* Proposed elimination of the "Reading
Is Fundamental" program, which gives free books to poor children
* Pushed for development of "mini-nukes,"
designed to attack deeply buried targets-a violation of the Comprehensive
Test Ban Treaty
* Tried to reverse regulation protecting
sixty million acres of national forest from logging and road building
* Appointed John Bolton, an opponent of
nonproliferation treaties and the United Nations, as Undersecretary
of State for Arms Control and International Security
* Made Monsanto executive Linda Fisher
deputy administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
* Nominated Michael McConnell, a leading
critic of the separation of church and state, to a federal judgeship
* Nominated civil rights opponent Terrence
Boyle to a federal judgeship
* Canceled the 2004 deadline for auto
makers to develop prototype high-mileage cars
* Named John Walters, an ardent opponent
of prison drug treatment programs, as drug czar
* Appointed oil and coal lobbyist. Steven
Giles as Deputy Secretary of the Interior
* Named Bennett Raley, who has called
for the repeal of the Endangered Species Act, as Assistant Secretary
of the Interior for Water and Science
* Sought the dismissal of a class-action
lawsuit filed in the United States against Japan by Asian women
forced to work as sex slaves in World War II
* Appointed as solicitor general Ted Olson,
your chief lawyer in the Florida voting debacle
* Proposed to ease the permit process
for constructing refineries and nuclear and hydroelectric dams,
including lowering environmental standards
* Proposed the selling of oil and gas
tracts in the Alaska Wildlife Preserve
Dow Wow Wow
As I'm sitting in a Michigan airport waiting
for my American Airlines flight to Chicago, a man in a uniform
sits down beside me and strikes up a conversation.
I learn that he is actually a pilot, for
American Airlines-or more precisely American Eagle, the commuter
airline of American Airlines, which like all commuters these days
is now adding jets to its fleets for flights of under two hours.
This saves the parent company lots of money, I guess.
The pilot who has approached me is not
scheduled to fly the plane I'm on. He's hoping to grab an empty
seat for the flight across Lake Michigan.
"Do you have to pay to fly if it's
a personal trip?" I asked.
"No," he replied. "It's
about the only fringe benefit we have."
He then revealed that the starting pay
for a pilot at American Eagle was $16,800 a year.
"What?" I asked, sure that I
had misheard the figure. "Sixteen grand per year?"
"That's right," the captain
responded. "And that's high. At Delta's commuter airline,
starting pay is $15,000 for a pilot; at Continental Express, it's
"Thirteen thousand ? For the captain
of a commercial airliner? Are you messing with me?"
"No, I'm not messin' with anyone.
It gets worse. That first year as a pilot, you have to pay for
your own flight training and your own uniforms. After that's all
deducted, you end up with about $9,000."
He paused so that could sink in. Then
he added: "Gross. "
"I can't believe what I'm hearing."
My voice was now getting to a level where others around us began
"Believe it," he assured me.
"One of our pilots last month went down to the welfare office
and applied for food stamps. No kidding. With four kids, at his
level of pay as a pilot, he was legally eligible for assistance.
The front office at American found out about this and sent out
a memo that said no pilot was to apply for food stamps or welfare-even
if they were eligible for it! Anyone who did apply would be let
"So now my buddy just goes down to
the food bank on his way home. They don't ask for anything from
you that would get back to American Airlines."
I thought I'd heard everything by now.
But t-his story was beyond frightening. I did not want to get
on that plane. You see, there's something about us humans and
our basic animal instincts for survival-and one of those instincts,
probably traceable back to the caveman days, is: Never, ever let
someone fly you up in the air who's making less than the kid at
I got on the plane, but only after I convinced
myself the guy must have been feeding me a line. How else could
I justify risking my life like that? The following week, though,
I made some calls and did some research. Much to my horror, that
pilot's figures were right. While captains who had been with these
commuter airlines for a number of years were pulling in the big
money ($40,000/year!), first-year rookies in many cases were living
below the poverty level.
I don't know about you, but I want the
people taking me with them to defy nature's most powerful force-gravity-to
be happy, content, confident, and well paid. Even on the big jets
for the major airlines, the flight attendants-another group of
employees whose training may one day be critical to saving your
life-start out at somewhere between $15,000 and $17,000 a year.
If you don't want to take my word alone, then let me offer you
some neutral, objective statistics about just how well those at
the top are doing:
* From 1979 until now, the richest 1 percent
in the country have seen their wages increase by 157 percent;
those of you in the bottom 20 percent are actually making $100
less a year (adjusted for inflation) than you were at the dawn
of the Reagan era.
* The world's richest two hundred companies
have seen their profits grow by 362.4 percent since 1983; their
combined sales are now higher than the combined gross domestic
product of all but ten nations on earth.
* Since the recent mergers of the top
four U.S. oil companies, their profits have soared by 146 percent-
during what we were told was an "energy crisis."
* In the most recent year for which there
are figures, forty-four of the top eighty-two companies in the
United States did not pay the standard rate of 35 percent in taxes
that corporations are expected to pay. In fact, 17 percent of
them paid NO taxes at all-and seven of those, including General
Motors, played the tax code like a harp, juggling business expenses
and tax credits until the government actually owed them millions
* Another 1,279 corporations with assets
of $250 million or more also paid NO taxes and reported "no
income" for 1995 (the most recent year for which statistics
Forbes magazine estimates that corporate tax shelters cost us
average Americans over $10 billion dollars a year (and we have
to make up the difference, by paying more taxes or by losing services).
Next time you can't afford to fix the furnace or replace the computer,
you can thank all those fat cats who've got you repeating the
line "the economy isn't doing too well right now."
Instead of collecting this money that's
being stolen from us, how is the IRS spending its time these days?
They've decided to go after you. That's right. They've thrown
up the white flag, they're surrendering their efforts to get the
rich to pay their taxes. Their new policy is to focus on squeezing
those who make the least. According to the General Accounting
Office, those who earn less than $25,000 a year have seen their
IRS audits double-while those earning over $100,000 have seen
their audits drop by over 25 percent.
What does this mean on the balance sheet?
It's resulted in a drop of 26 percent in the amount of taxes corporations
pay, while you, the average American, have seen your taxes go
up by at least 13 percent. In the 1950s, taxes from corporations
made up 27 percent of the revenues for the federal government;
today that number has dropped to less than 10 percent. Who has
made up the difference? You and your second job.
Part of the reason you're hearing so much
about how bad the economy is these days is that many of those
who are getting their pink slips are the friends and family of
those reporting the bad news. Unlike the massive layoffs of the
eighties, which were all but ignored by those who went to good
colleges and made good money, the layoff massacres today are mostly
white-collar and professional. Lay off a few hundred thousand
of these people, and you're gonna hear about it. Why? Well, because
IT'S . . . IT'S . . . IT'S SO UNFAIR! I mean, these high-tech
guys paid their dues! They played by the rules, gave their heart
and soul and first marriage to the company. They were there for
every company retreat, never missed a late-night "think session,"
attended every charity event the chairman and his friends threw.
And then one day. . . "Bob, this is an employment counselor
we've hired to help you with your transition, which we'd like
to make as easy for you as possible. Please hand me your keys,
and this gentleman with the badge and gun will escort you to your
cubicle so you can collect your personal belongings and leave
the building in the next twelve minutes."
There is no downturn. Are businesses earning
less than last year? Absolutely. How could they not? The nineties
saw these corporations post surreal, over-the-top profits, a once-in-a-lifetime
bonanza that had nothing to do with reality. Compare any year's
figures to those, and you're comparing apples and windfalls. There
was a headline the other day that said GM's profits were down
73 percent from last year. That sounds bad-but last year was nothing
short of a profit orgy. Even with that 73 percent drop, GM will
still pocket over $800 million profit in the first half of 2001.