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Are you better off today? 

If you're a billionaire, the answer is a resounding yes!

A sure sign that at least one of George Bush's wars is going well is that you never read about it. I'm not talking about Iraq or Afghanistan, and, no, Bush hasn't stealthily devastated some other bedraggled-but-oil-soaked Third World nation. The conflict I have in mind is class warfare -- which, although not described in those terms, is the favorite entree on the menu offered at last week's Republican National Convention in New York. Put another way, the real game that's afoot in our country is a massive redistribution of wealth that would make John Dillinger's bank robberies seem charitable by comparison.

You didn't hear the party platform trumpeted as a jihad against working Americans, but that's what it is. And the Fifth Column aiding the Bushites is the servile press. Just as the media failed America in seldom questioning what really led to 9/11, and just as the media failed America in refusing to be skeptical over the smoke-and-mirrors charade that got us into Iraq -- so, too, has the media failed America in concealing the information and the context about what has really happened in the economy.

And that undisclosed truth is: You're screwed.

Nor do you ever get the information that would enable you to understand that the media owners have little in common with their customers. When it comes to economics -- dense stuff on a good day -- the news stories report facts, but seldom are you given the tools to understand those facts. Opinion pages -- either muddled messages or rightwing rants in most papers -- buy into the myth that American corporatism is basically good for everyone, if we could just tweak it a bit. In short, if you relied on the daily rags to understand the economy, you'd be lost in a swamp with no compass.

It gets worse. To get the picture of how much worse, let me offer an anecdote. I had a great uncle who was a lighthouse keeper in Key West about 80 years ago. Most of the good citizens of that island relied on "wrecking" -- salvaging ships that had run aground -- for their livelihoods. So, my great unc's job wasn't to turn on the lights. His mission was to douse them and ignite fake signals that lured ships onto the reefs. What he did was good for business, and I'm sure he earned many free beers at Sloppy Joe's.

The media counterparts of my uncle are the talk show hosts -- the big fat liars such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Neal Boortz. They're luring listeners to their doom with a never-ending drumbeat: Tax cuts for the rich through some sort of voodoo alchemy help everyone ... it's righteous for money to dominate the political process (a perversion of the First Amendment whose corrosive impact is ensuring that only the wealthy have free speech) ... eliminate virtually all constraints on how companies treat workers ... scrap environmental protections ... crush unions ... abandon the minimum wage ... supercharge "globalization" (whose most immediate impact is shipping your jobs to offshore sweatshops).

Anything that jacks up corporate profits is good, no matter the social costs.

Add to that the biggest deceit of Republicans: While touting themselves as "fiscal conservatives," they have crafted the biggest expansion of government in modern history, funded by $2,750,000,000,000 (yes, that's $2.75 trillion!) in deficits over the next decade. That borrowed money will be paid by your grandchildren, who may find the bill a little steep since about the only jobs left in America in 30 years will be as Wal-Mart greeters.

The scam of deficits was first crafted by Ronald Reagan -- and the covert strategy then as now is truly evil -- to bankrupt the federal government, forcing a shutdown of education, health and almost all social spending. You see that strategy at work in Florida, as the Dark Prince Jeb Bush lards taxpayers' money onto "economic development" (that is, paying back campaign contributors) while stripping funds for the state's neediest and weakest.

Similarly, at the national level, George Bush is slashing critical money for schools, the elderly, national parks, veterans -- just about everybody except the wealthiest 2 percent. Corporations are being shoveled your money -- hell, they get tax breaks for eliminating American jobs. And there's always a few extra billions for Halliburton, Bechtel and the Bush family's very own defense contractor, the Carlyle Group.

A Top 40 hit on talk radio -- Limbaugh and Boortz have both sung the tune in recent weeks -- is that American business is more productive than the weenies in Europe, and stripping away more regulation will make us even more macho and productive. This is, of course, spin emanating from the Republican National Committee and the Heritage Foundation, and is the economic equivalent of raising the terrorism threat level every time Dubya lurches into some new disaster. It's the charlatan's old trick: Watch this hand so you don't see what the other hand is doing.

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