Political Prisoners

Economic Gangsters

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

As Americans begin to taste the bitter dregs of recession, the economy spirals to the top of primary election rhetoric. Briefly displacing the issue of Iraq.

Both Republicans and Democrats join in rare bipartisan agreement on an economic stimulus package—a government dole out of roughly $800 per taxpayer—which, when received, will be spent, and this spending will stimulate, or boost, the lagging economy.

I don’t want to be a downer, but I feel compelled to say, if the economy can be sparked by so modest a boost, are the problems really that serious, or are they far more serious than politicians are letting on?

It seems to me that politicians are skirting the obvious: U.S. economic problems aren’t displacing problems in Iraq. In fact, Iraq—its costs in blood and treasure—are driving this period of economic instability, recession and job losses.

How? Well, while the defense industries, and related businesses of oil and mercenary-type outfits (like Blackwater) are making big bucks, this wealth is narrowly distributed. In past wars, workers were driven into factories to build the weapons of World Wars I and II, and so money was widely circulated, particularly among Blacks, newly arrived from the segregated South, or among women, who entered factories to work machines vacated by millions of white men who were drafted to man the war front (remember Rosie the Riveter?)

This new so-called volunteer army is largely the product of an economic draft, of poor and working class youth hoping to get a leg up in the rat race of attending increasingly unaffordable colleges.

While this hope and dream is often unrequited, what are the economic prospects of tens of thousands of men and women who return legless, armless—or mindless—after repeated tours in Iraq?

And the Iraq war, which will cost perhaps upwards of trillions of dollars before all is said and done, is really designed to economically benefit few—again, oil companies and their subsidiaries. And, of course, petroleum-based fossil fuels have their own ecological, and social costs that we’ve not even begun to tally.

While Bush and the Saudi princes do their sword-dance (ironic given the $20 billion Saudi-U.S. weapons deal Bush brings), the economy—and the ecology—burns.

Housing foreclosures are spiking; manufacturing flees to China; gas prices rise; neighborhoods decline into hellholes for survival; and schools resemble training camps for prison.

And prison? Perhaps they are America’s lone growth industry.

Wars are poor replacements for ailing economies. For they produce nothing, but pain, loss and ultimately—more war.

This war, started by neocon nitwits and the Texas/Bush Mafia, has produced pain, loss and death on an epic scale.

No politician now running has the barest notion of how to end the cycle—for they too are trapped in an imperial web, spun by big business.

They promise no solution, just an extension of the same, elsewhere., January 19, 2008