Somehow I missed this last month, but when it popped up in my inbox this afternoon I nearly peed my pants. Wait, since when are there more classes than just the middle class? It's a bit long but at least check out the rap (yes, there was a rap in the House) at the end.
by CONGRESSMAN MAJOR R. OWENS
RULING CLASS HAS COMPLETELY PACIFIED SWINDLED CLASS
NOVEMBER 4, 2003
Mr. OWENS: Mr. Speaker, it is near the end of the session, and I have listened closely to the comments of my colleagues just leaving the floor, and I think they were all appropriate at this time for us to take a hard look at money matters most. I would like to discuss a number of issues which relate to resources and money.
I have chosen to sort of use a theme of class warfare. There is no class warfare in America. When we raise that issue, people get excited. I agree with everybody who says there is no class warfare. The problem is the ruling class has completely pacified the swindled classes. The swindled class includes more than the working class, I assure you. The simple?minded notion of the communist, that there is a war of working?class folks against the rich, et cetera, that is very simple?minded. It is much more complicated than that. There are swindled classes in our democracy, and they are not fighting back so there is no war. One of the duties of the Congress should be to make certain that we stir our people up and start a war, an overt war. That is what democracy ought to be all about, a war of ideas and a war of confrontations with policies and principles that guide the way we live.
The whole system of checks and balances built into our Constitution and our government in a very formal way is very important. Those checks and balances have kept the Nation going in some critical times. They have stopped the hysterical from overriding and overruling the logical and the reasonable. They have done a number of things, the formal checks and balances. But beyond the formal checks and balances, democracy has to have a whole lot of informal checks and balances. The labor unions, the town meeting maverick who gets up and challenges the school board. There is a whole set of people who are a part of a checks and balances system. The newspapers, the magazines, the media. All that is part of the checks and balances.
When some part of that checks and balances system goes silent or becomes dormant, then we are in trouble. I think that we have large numbers of people in classes who are silent and dormant, pacified at this point, and that is the problem.
This is my prevailing and my overwhelming thought as we near the end of the first session of the 108th Congress, that we are a Nation that has no class warfare because the ruling class has completely pacified the swindled classes. I think it is important to note that today is election day. In a democracy we should not ever minimize or trivialize any election day. But the Republican majority that runs this House has chosen to bring us back to Washington here on election day when every public official ought to be close to his constituency. If we think voting is important, then any election, whether it is a local election, a State election, it is important. It is ridiculous that we are here today. It is symptomatic of what is wrong in terms of a handful of people making stupid decisions. I think that the leadership of this House has done that in bringing us back here to deal with two ceremonial bills. We did not have to come back because the Nation needed some basic decision to govern, some decision related to the budget or some decision related to the war. We came back for two ceremonial bills. That is part of the problem, the way this House has been run.
As we approach the end of this session, we should reflect on that. In this session, Democrats have been shut out of any kind of meaningful participation. It is amazing how the Constitution is one thing, but the rules of the House are another. There is no check and balance built into the rules. In other words, the rules of the House are established, and there is nowhere you can go to appeal the way the rules are established or the way they are executed. In our checks and balances, we have a problem because the legislative body, the executive body and the Supreme Court, the judicial, are three separate bodies. There are checks on the executive body. There are definitely checks. Both the legislative body and the judicial body can check the executive section of our government. But there is no check on the rules of the House. There is nowhere to go. So we have had totalitarian rule in this House during this session. We have had the least amount of participation and the least productivity and the most totalitarian set of rules here in this first session of the 108th Congress.
As we come to the end, part of the process of swindling all the classes is certainly carried out by the ruling class of the majority Republicans here in this House. It is not a pleasant thing to stand here and say this and admit that we are the greatest and most powerful legislative body anywhere in the world at this point, but the Members of this body are treated in a very trivial manner. We are like ants. Certainly if you are a Democratic Member here, you are like an ant shoved aside.
Recent outrage was expressed by the gentleman from New York (Mr. Rangel), who stormed into a meeting, a conference meeting. He felt he belonged there. The school books and the textbooks still say that legislation is made in a certain way. Both Houses of Congress vote separately, the House votes, the Senate votes, and they come together in a conference committee to iron out the differences. That is what the civic book says. That is the way the Founding Fathers meant for it to happen. But with Republicans in charge of both the House and the Senate, they have chosen to just shut out the Democrats in the conference process, as they have chosen in many cases to bring legislation to the floor on very short notice, with no participation, and on and on it goes.
I am not going to waste anybody's time with a litany of the things that have gone wrong here. But I think the American people, and our colleagues, I am addressing the House, my colleagues, wake up. We are part of the process of allowing the ruling class to continue to overwhelm, pacify, and exploit the swindled classes.
I think it is important to look at the end of this session in terms of unfinished business, and some of that was discussed by my colleagues who preceded me. It all fits together. What is happening and not happening in one area flows into another, just as all the elections that are taking place at the various levels, State and municipal today, are interwoven with what we do and what we can accomplish here. Local governments are very important. They have an impact on people, probably greater than any other level of government.
I have served in every level of government. I served as a commissioner in New York City government. I served as a State senator in the State legislature, and I am a Member of Congress. Having served at all three levels, nothing is more important than the people who are on the front lines, who are the most important in the dialogue and delivery of policies and services and programs to ordinary citizens. They are on the front lines. It is the hardest job level in terms of governing that we have, the local level. Therefore, we should not trivialize city council elections, local county legislature elections. We should not tear our Congress-people away from that and bring them to Congress and have them do nothing and not have them participate in the process of the citizens dealing with that level of government in an appropriate way. We are making people suffer a great deal at the local level. We are setting our legislators up in counties and cities for very difficult jobs in terms of the way in which we are managing the resources of the Nation.
One of the unfinished agenda items is the appropriations process. The appropriations process is far from finished, including a very important area, Health and Human Services. The Health and Human Services appropriation has the appropriation for education. At the local level, nothing is more important than education. I want to salute my city's mayor. He is a Republican, but I will engage in some nonpartisan or cross-partisan praise here.
The Republican mayor certainly has kept his word in terms of making education a priority. I have watched skeptically as things have developed in his administration; and the issuance today of a $13.5 billion proposed capital budget for schools, building, renovation, restructuring, equipping with modern equipment, I think, was a step to show that for this mayor, education remains a high priority. I am not so naive as to believe that the development of the budget and the announcement of the capital budget of $13.5 billion means it is going to be achieved, that the funds will be there to carry it out; but he has made it a priority.
From some sources, some of that money will be found. It ought to be found, some of it, for school construction at the Federal level. Tip O'Neill said, ``All politics is local.'' All taxes are local. The only retreat to this whole business of the Federal Government has no role in education when it is convenient for us, it ought to be well established now that the Federal Government has a major role in education and has played a role throughout our history from the time Thomas Jefferson established the University of Virginia. If we had not had a major role in later on taking that University of Virginia model and expanding it into the land grant colleges, the education level of the American people at the time of World War I and World War II would have been inadequate for the challenges that it faced.
Not enough credit is ever given to the fact that there was a very educated population that made the productive capacity of America overwhelm Hitler. There was a very educated population even that hit the beaches of Normandy, engineers and a whole set of people who probably would not have been there with the same competence if there had been no land grant colleges spread throughout a whole Nation where we were teaching more than Latin and classics and English composition, but also teaching engineering and agriculture, et cetera. Education has always played a role.
We finally, under Lyndon Johnson, began to give aid to elementary and secondary education. This President as he came in made a statement and took action which showed that he considered education a great priority. No Child Left Behind is a law which was the outgrowth of the President mobilizing, marshaling all of the Members of Congress behind a bill that passed overwhelmingly. It certainly makes a great commitment to continue the role of the Federal Government in elementary and secondary education.
The problem is that before the ink was dry on the President's signature for the bill, he moved away from his commitment to provide funding at a level that would make the bill work, make the law work. The $6 billion that was promised is not there. That is part of our problem. The appropriations process for Health and Human Services is stalled, partially because there are some people who are trying very hard to regain that committed $6 billion or some portion of it. The appropriations process is stalled for Health and Human Services, I think, primarily because the majority party knows that it cannot go to America, it cannot go back home and admit that we have neglected certain basic needs in education.
We have maybe complicated the problem by adding mandates, requirements through No Child Left Behind that we are not willing to fund and made life miserable and more difficult for teachers and students, and school reform is suffering instead of being benefited. So the appropriations process with respect to Health and Human Services should go forward. I hope it will go forward with a break in the logjam that creates the funding stream that is necessary to make No Child Left Behind live up to its promise.
Another unfinished business here, I hesitate to even bring it up because it has not been discussed at all anywhere in any meaningful way, that is, the increase in the minimum wage. It is still stuck where we were more than 3 years ago at a $5.15 minimum wage. There is nothing on the floor, nothing at the committee level that deals with the increase in the minimum wage. It is just tossed aside as being inconsequential.
What does this have to do with swindling people? The working class, the working people at the very bottom are the ones who make the minimum wage. There are many more than you would imagine, more than 10 million in this country still at that level. $5.15 an hour. Those people are being swindled. Those people should be protected more by the government, if that is the only way we can get the wages up, deal with the realities of the 21st century and make certain that employers pay a minimum wage. It is not a living wage. Some States have passed what they call a living wage. They have calculated how much the cost of living is, and they have come up with a living wage. New York has one which they passed, but they are not implementing. It is 2 years away before they fully implement it. But they recognize that families cannot make it on $5.15 an hour, even when two members are working in a family of four. $5.15 an hour will not produce enough to take care of a family. So minimum wage is very important, if you care about working families, if you care about people at the very bottom.
Ninety?five percent of the troops in Iraq come from working families. Ninety?five percent of the troops in our military come from working families. They happen to be on the front lines now, but they are a class. They are mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters and they are children trapped in a situation where they cannot realize a decent wage. I will talk more about that later.
In health care, the same thing is true. They cannot depend on the government to help guarantee that their families back here have decent health care. Health care bankrupts the average middle class family. We are not talking about the poor. The very poor, thanks to Lyndon Johnson and the Great Society programs, Medicaid, for which not a single member of the Republican Party voted, Medicaid, Medicare, a fundamental safety net for health care for the poor.
But there are many who fall outside that net, and some of the people who fall outside that net are not working families in the usual sense. They are middle?income families who, for various reasons, do not have insurance, and when they have to start paying for medical care, some have gone bankrupt as a result of trying to pay for health care costs, a burden that no family should be asked to bear in certain cases. So we have the unfinished business of health care. Prescription drug benefits is on the table somewhere. That is just for senior citizens. We just started. The need for universal health care, the need for a single?payer plan, that is like minimum wage. Nobody will discuss that around here. All the industrialized nations of the world have something close to universal health care, but in our great American democracy, the richest Nation that ever existed on the face of earth, we will not even discuss a universal health care plan. This 108th Congress is no different. A discussion of the prescription drug benefit is frightening because there is an attempt to try to make that a means?tested program with overtones of welfare that would drive a wedge and set up divisiveness among our senior citizens and the families who have to support senior citizens.
Transportation, I understand, is stagnated. We will not have any major action on that. Home security and terrorism, two things that are high on the agenda of this administration, have made no great breakthroughs where they are needed most. I still have police stations in my district which have telephone systems that can only take three calls at a time. The police precinct serves something like 200,000 or 300,000 people in a New York police precinct, but the phone systems are so old that they can only take three or four calls at a time. We do not need a 9/11?type emergency to show us that we have got a problem. Everyday citizens are complaining about the fact that that system does not work. We do have 911, a number of ways to deal with that, but why such antiquated systems?
The firemen who lost lives in great amounts, more than 300 firemen died in the September 11 World Trade terrorism attack. They still do not have equipment that is up to par in terms of communication. Many of them died because the communication equipment was inadequate, and they could not be warned properly about what was happening outside as they went up the steps to rescue people. A simple matter of radios that were not tuned in to the frequency of police radios and things that we have known for some time were a problem. Those problems are not being corrected. In the House and the Senate, many Members have talked about security in our ports and how vulnerable our ports are, and I heard on some television station today about a new program that is being launched by the Secretary for Homeland Security, and that is welcomed, but it is just beginning to creep off the ground, slowly, because we have our priorities diverted into other areas. Each one of these items would be getting far more attention and could be dealt with in a more realistic way if we did not have the war in Iraq. The war in Iraq is a blunder, a quagmire that sucks down dollars. It sucks up the energy and the attention of the highest policymakers in our government. It destroys lives unnecessarily. So the great evil that hangs over this 108th Congress at this time is the great blunder of the war in Iraq.
Accountability for the war in Iraq is unfinished business. We do not, as a Congress, have the accountability that we should be able to expect. As part of a system of checks and balances, certainly we should get more information, we should have more dialogue, we should be told more about what the gentlewoman from Ohio (Ms. Kaptur) had called an exit strategy. She talked about a plan to train people, the Iraqi police force, the army. When are we going to declare that we have sufficiently done that and say we can go home. There are a number of questions that she asked earlier tonight that go to the heart of the accountability question. Beyond the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and they complain that they do not have respect and they are not given the kind of accountability that they deserve, but there ought to be more general accountability to the Congress and the American people about just how we spent the money. Seventy?nine billion dollars was appropriated earlier. Now, another $87 billion, and yet the question with respect to the helicopter explosion, and it is pretty much conceded now that it was a Stinger?missile?type, shoulder missile which we call our Stingers. We perfected that in the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. We taught the Taliban how to do that. We gave them those modern weapons which helped drive the Soviets out, but we learned they are very skilled. The terrorists who came out of the Taliban in Afghanistan are very skilled in the use of shoulder missiles; plus I understand that they are so well?designed that they are fairly easy to use. The helicopter was probably hit by that kind of surface?to?air missile fired by one or two people. One question being raised is did the helicopter have a device that has been designed to protect aircraft from heat?seeking missiles? Was it equipped with it or was it not? And the very fact that the question is being raised and there is no immediate answer tells me that it was not. If it was equipped and it failed, we would have known. We would have been told that by now: It was equipped properly, but it failed.
There are some other questions about how the troops inside the helicopter were protected. And these kinds of micro-management questions are being raised all the time. The bulletproof vests, there are two types, they say. One just protects them from flak and shrapnel. Another protects them from flak, shrapnel, and bullets. And many of our troops only have the old one. And on and on it goes. My colleagues who have visited Iraq, Republicans as well as Democrats, this is not a partisan matter, are very upset by the shabby way in which some things have been done. We should have a chance to talk more openly about what is going to be done to correct all of this or what exactly is happening. If Rumsfeld is the kind of person who just does not want to talk to Members of Congress, it is one more reason to call for Rumsfeld's resignation. Several people have called for his resignation. I would like to add my voice to that. I think in a situation like this, he should have been asked to resign long time ago. The President is elected. The buck stops with the President. But we ought to say to the President that if he wants to show that he is trying to deal with this problem, then he has got to get rid of the chief planner, the chief policymaker, the person who made the mess. It does not make sense to keep Rumsfeld on as the Secretary of Defense if he wants to convince us that he is trying to solve this problem. We would like to have a dialogue with the President about why he insists on keeping Rumsfeld there when such a mess has been made on so many different levels. The failure to plan for postwar, what happened after the war, is totally unacceptable. It is an outrage because we have been in these situations before. There was so much experience and so much knowledge available, so much history, that we cannot comprehend how basically intelligent men and women could have done such a bad job of anticipating what happened. These are not basically intelligent people; these are brilliant people. Intellect was not a problem. The problem is mindsets and old men indulging in juvenile fantasies about war. All that is part of what has happened, and I make these charges and statements, and I would love to have a dialogue with somebody to tell me they are not true.
The punishment of corporate crime is part of an economic swindle, probably the biggest swindle that the swindled classes suffer from, and I repeat, what I am talking about tonight is there is no class warfare in America. There is a ruling class which has completely pacified the swindled classes, and the present administration here, along with its Republican rule in both Houses, have demonstrated how the ruling class can be very efficient and very effective in executing its policies, even when the policies are wrong. Tax cuts to make the ruling class stronger and more powerful at a time when the economy is in trouble.
Yes, the economy suddenly surged forward, more than 7 percent growth in the last quarter, but that is more disturbing than if the economy was just dragging along. When we look at the surge forward that took place, and we look at the number of jobs that still were lost in the last quarter, 47,000 jobs to make up the total of 3.2 million jobs that have been lost since the Bush Administration came into power, we are having a terrible economic situation develop where the economy can improve, profits can go up, wealth can increase, but there are no jobs for the working families. There are no jobs for college graduates soon because our jobs are being exported. The ruling class has decided they can get computer specialists, they can get Ph.D.s, they can get all kinds of people by traveling around the world, and they can get them for less than one?quarter of the price that they pay here. Computer specialists, now the best school for training for computers is not MIT, computer and related matters, not MIT and some of the first?rate American universities. At the very top is the University of India, and everybody is clamoring for their graduates from our corporations. Beyond that, at lower levels, people who can do computer work are the beneficiaries from India, Pakistan, a few other places. They just merely have to learn English. They can be beneficiaries of lower?level jobs related to computer services.
And, also, simple matters like telemarketing, telemarketing now is being outsourced at a very rapid rate. Listen carefully, if my colleagues have the occasion when somebody calls them about an item, especially something related to a big corporation, a utility, listen carefully and sometimes we do not have to listen carefully. They have been trained to disguise their voices, and those who call Brooklyn from India, some of them have got a Brooklyn accent, but I picked up phone the other day and there was a person talking from AT&T who had a bit of an accent. So I said, ``Where are you calling from?'' And she said, ``Why are you asking that?'' I said, ``Are you calling from India or Pakistan? Where are you calling from?'' So she got a bit ruffled and she fell into her real accent. So I knew very well she was not an American, and she was calling from some foreign place, having learned to speak English very well.
Telemarketing is not a great job. That is one of the jobs where we might call it an entry?level job. A lot of college graduates have got out of college and drifted around, cannot find anything else. Telemarketing is one of the places they go to get a start. A lot of people who have not been to college can find a lot of jobs in telemarketing. Telemarketing jobs are going rapidly, and it will go right up the ladder. Anybody who thinks they are exempt because they have a Ph.D. or a master's degree are going to find that the master's degrees of India and Pakistan, even Russia, China, those master's degrees and Ph.D.s will be competing at much lower wage levels if we do not do something about policy.
What we do in our government has to deal with the fact that we have got a standard of living that is being steadily eroded by this kind of exporting of jobs. But corporations are doing that, and there is no countervailing force. We waste our time here on ceremonial bills and do not even tackle the problem.
Finally, the failure to punish corporate crime is one of the greatest swindles of all that has taken place in the last few years, one of the derelictions of duty that has taken place, the worse dereliction of duty that has taken place in the last few years.
The failure to deal with corporate crime, to have the appropriate investigations, to have the appropriate follow?up and to punish people who have been stealing from the investing class, the middle class, the investing class, people who are well off enough to have invested some portion of their income, they are the worst victims; not the working class, but the middle class, upper?middle class in particular, who had extra income to invest.
I do not know what the figure is, but my colleague who just left the floor from North Carolina said it is $4.6 trillion; $4.6 trillion has been lost in investment income. It is an astounding figure.
People have lost that kind of money, many of them. Of course, pensioners, people whose pensions got caught up in this. But $4.6 trillion has been swindled away. These people have been swindled, and they are not really fighting back, and nobody is fighting for them. The ruling class has prevailed, and they do not even call hearings in Congress to really deal with it in a forceful way.
Enron, the criminals at Enron are still at large. There are a few that they put in handcuffs and paraded before the cameras, but it was a massive, massive swindle. WorldCom was even larger. Then every day there is some new revelation about the way in which the banks are in collusion with these swindles. Even the stock market has finally been exposed to be riddled with conflicts of interest and all kinds of questionable dealings that resulted in income being lost by this class of people that had enough money to invest.
Investors have lost a tremendous amount of money. The ruling class has completely prevailed over these investors, and the investors, the middle class, upper middle class, educated people, they are now part of the swindled class. They join the ranks at the very bottom who cannot even get an increase in the minimum wage.
If there is anything that stands out, it is the way we have failed as a Congress to protect our people from the ruling class swindles that have taken place. The greatest economic swindle on jobs is the worst. Corporate swindles against small investors is probably the most far?reaching and the most devastating in terms of the volume of stealing that is taking place.
We have got a surge with our jobs lost which shows we are going to have more of a swindling taking place at another level of what used to be the middle class. We have lost manufacturing jobs. We have given up on that.
We joined in the great argument in many cases. The great argument was that we are America, we are ahead of everybody in the area of high?tech production. We will be the high?tech gurus of the world. We will provide high?tech services. And we still do lead everybody else in terms of nations. But the assumption that this is automatic, that, as we surrender manufacturing jobs, that automatically we will benefit from the new world order, where global trade will mean trading services as well as trading goods, and we will trade our services, we will provide the innovations, we will provide the science, all of those assumptions might have made sense 10 years ago; but you would have to be blind not to see that China is not waiting to develop its high?tech class, its high?tech workers. Russia certainly always has had high?tech workers; they have just been out of the world markets, and many other nations have, as a matter of national policy, set out to take over certain sectors of the high?tech economy.
It is not by accident that China sent a man up in space. They have been sending up satellites for some time. The man in space in China is just one more piece of evidence that shows you how hard they are working at this high?tech development of high?tech personnel brain power.
The brainpower is the question, not military power. Military power is backed by brain power. That is why we won the war in Iraq so rapidly. It was by a tremendous amount of brain power that went into developing the weapons system. But that is not the way of the future. We have done it probably for the last time, made the mistake of believing we can really gain a greater foothold for democracy or for our economy or anything by military action against a nation as large as Iraq. It is a pitfall, a bottomless pit that we have fallen into, and we must get out of it and get out of it with honor. But we cannot do that unless we make some radical changes in the way we do things, the swindle I will come to later, because lives are being swindled away from American citizens.
The refusal to consider the minimum wage, I want to come back to that. The refusal to consider the minimum wage increase is the most hard?hearted, cold?blooded piece of mindset that we are faced with. It originates from Democrats and Republicans, unfortunately.
We have an economic guru, a person who has been guiding our economic policy in this country for some time now, Alan Greenspan. Alan Greenspan does not believe in the minimum wage. Alan Greenspan thinks we should not have a minimum wage. He is a disciple of Ayn Rand, the individualist, great fascist, rugged individualist, in my opinion.
Ayn Rand said the government should never be involved in the lives of people, it should never interfere with business; we do not need government until we have a war. Ayn Rand said we need government only for wars. So the government should use its power to send soldiers off to die to protect the rugged individuals, the capitalists, the Greenspans, the Rands. People should go off to die to protect them, but it should ignore their health care, ignore laws which establish minimum wages and allows them to earn a decent living. All that should be ignored. It is all unnecessary.
I marvel at how long they have gotten away with this and how revered Mr. Greenspan is in this Capitol still by Democrats and Republicans. He has been reappointed twice by a Democratic President, and nobody wants to touch Mr. Greenspan.
I think we should dwell for a moment on the fact that all the surveys show that the soldiers fighting in Iraq, like the soldiers who died in Vietnam, like the soldiers who died in Korea, mostly come from working families, people who would benefit from government actions such as an increase in the minimum wage.
We have a situation where basic questions need to be asked, about whether or not an individual should have the right to refuse to go to war. We had a draft in the case of Korea; we had a draft in the case of Vietnam. If this administration is reelected, and I say this standing here on this 4th of November, 2003, if this administration is reelected, there will be a draft, because there is only one way to solve their problems, and that is more manpower.
I would like to see them put more manpower in Iraq right away, because I think part of the solution to the problem in Iraq is you have to secure the place and you need bodies to secure the place. You need soldiers to secure the place. For political reasons they want to keep the number of soldiers involved in Iraq down low, but by that political decision we are going to lose more lives. Every life lost in any war is unfortunate, but a life lost in the war in Iraq, a war which never should have been, a blunder, a disgrace, that life is much worse, the tragedy is much worse, because it is needless. We are going to lose more people because of the politics of not putting enough troops in place to secure Iraq.
While I am on the subject, I would like to mention there is a conference being scheduled by my colleague, the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Davis), sometime next week, I think it is the 14th of November, a conference on the black male and the problems faced by black males in America. Of course that conference will have to deal with the first and greatest problem, the tremendous unemployment problem faced by black males, by young people in general; and our society as a whole better take note that things that happen to blacks always get multiplied and transferred into the larger society.
There was a time when drug addictions and problems related to drugs started out in the African American community. The hustlers and the criminals and organized crime took advantage of the weaknesses in the African American community. They got a base there. They capitalized and expanded and got such a tremendous base until there is nowhere in America right now, small towns, large towns, nowhere, where the menace of drugs, particularly for young people, is not there.
So the menace of unemployment on a mass scale, unemployment of a group of people, will not stay just with the black males. But right now it is very high, 25 percent. Before you get into the figures of how many unemployed there are, look at the figures that relate to the lack of jobs and the lack of any stabilizing factors in their lives, like the figures, the numbers in prison, on probation and on parole. Staggering numbers of young black males are in prison, on parole or on probation.
Even Secretary Rumsfeld brought up the subject of education in one of his interviews, where he talked about the dilemma that we face as we fight terrorism in the world. The dilemma is that the terrorists are always training more people. They have sort of an unlimited supply of potential terrorists; and they are even training them formally, openly, in the madrassas, madrassas, particularly he mentioned madrassas of Pakistan.
Well, that is an appropriate observation, because the Taliban came out of the madrassas of Pakistan. The Taliban did not organize themselves by themselves, but the cannon fodder, the personnel of the Taliban, are graduates from the madrassas of Pakistan. These are schools that were set up by the fundamentalists, Islamic fundamentalists. They taught them reading, writing, science, and hatred. They still are going.
I visited Pakistan. Because I have a large Pakistan community in the lower part of my district in Brooklyn, they kept inviting me to come visit. Three years ago I visited Pakistan. Because I was most interested in education, I was taken around to various places, three cities, and talked to people, visited schools, et cetera. It became apparent to me after one day that they had no respect for their education system.
Public education was a very low priority in Pakistan. So the public education was receiving pennies, while they were spending money heavily, of course, on the military and in a number of other places. But public education was still being treated as though it was trivial, inconsequential. So the madrassas, the religious private schools, step in and fill the vacuum by providing reading, writing, science, math, food. You get a meal. A mother who sends a child, they are mostly males, sends her son to a madrassas, knows he is going to get a decent meal, be taken care of all day, and get basic education.
If you have no public school system, then who can blame a mother or father for sending their child to what does exist? The madrassas of Pakistan and a number of other places, these madrassas, by the way, are able to do what they do because they get funding from Saudi Arabia and some other rich oil countries, but mostly Saudi Arabia, because they are based on the Wahhabi sect. I am not well versed enough to know whether it is a sect or not, but there is a group that pushes what they call Islamic fundamentalism. It is based in Saudi Arabia, and they have financed these madrassas in Pakistan and other places. So they will keep going. Our ally, Saudi Arabia, has not indicated they will stop funding it.
But for a parent, it is an alternative that makes sense, if you do not have a public education system. The public education system in this country in areas where the black males are concentrated has been treated as a low priority, trivialized.
Obvious problems have not been dealt with. You can look at the physical facilities and the lack of equipment and supplies and books and before you get to the quality of construction and see that there is a great difference, it is almost as if you had de jour, de jour segregation in our big cities. When you look at the contrast between the way our big cities look in one section versus in another, or the way our big city schools look in the cities, the inner city versus the suburbs, you can see the great difference, as if somebody had consummated a decision to give inferior education to the African American students and to not deal with their needs.
The greatest need, of course, is outside of school, and that is income. Families need income in order to support children in school. School children's families are struggling to survive and are inevitably going to suffer. They are going to suffer. I do not see that it is inevitable that they will not succeed, because I came from a very poor family. My father never earned more than the minimum wage, and he had eight children. So you cannot get much poorer than we were and, yet, just about every member of my family has to some degree achieved some degree of success.
We have those stories of very strong families and people who overcome. The African American community would have withered away a long time ago if we did not have these people who overcome: the super people. But that is not human nature. Most human beings faced with tremendous adversity do not overcome, they succumb. They succumb to drugs, they succumb to the easy money on the streets selling drugs or other kinds of crime, and our dilemma with the black male conference is that we do not know how we are going to get out of this without the help of government. It is such a monumental problem, such a huge problem, we do not know how to get out of it.
Of course, the prejudices in our policymaking do not help at all. The fact that our prisons are already full of people who really should not be there and that many of the black males who go back on the street after serving time in prison, never should have been put in prison because they had drug problems, drug addiction problems. And all intelligent people agree that the first avenue of attack for a drug addiction problem ought to be treatment. But these people have never been in treatment in large numbers, and it is generally considered a luxury to provide treatment for a drug addict.
Of course, if a drug addict happens to be Rush Limbaugh, not only does he get the best treatment in the world because he can afford it, but he also does not admit that he is an addict. I do not know whether what he did was criminal or not, but I do take exception, and I resent the way in which the information about Rush Limbaugh's situation is being handled. I know of many young people who have been put in prison and served terms for the kinds of things that are implied in Rush Limbaugh's behavior. Definitely, he was an addict seeking drugs that were not prescribed, or seeking amounts of drugs that were not prescribed.
I have been told that it is intemperate, it is bad manners, it maybe is uncivilized to criticize Rush when he is down, but if there is anybody who ought to be criticized when he is down, it is Rush Limbaugh. Heartless, merciless, he specialized in ridiculing people. He is the kind of person who calls for drug addicts to be put in jail. So why not comment on the fact that there is one standard for the black males and females who happen to get caught up in drug use, drug users, and another standard for another set of people. The swindled set of people. There are large numbers of blacks, but the number of whites is increasing all the time. The number of other groups is increasing. The number of females is steadily increasing who are caught up in using drugs, and they get into the criminal system that refuses to provide adequate treatment, but will spend $15,000 or $20,000 a year to keep them in prison, and $15,000 is a low figure. Some prisons in New York and a few other places, it is $30,000 a year to keep a person in prison. Half the people in prison are there for nonviolent crimes relating to drugs. But Rush Limbaugh can go to a private place and people are afraid to say he has committed a crime.
I would like to read a bit from an article that appeared in the Miami Herald on October 12 related to Rush Limbaugh's situation. The article was written by two reporters, and I will not submit the entire piece for the RECORD, but I want to read some sections. Lisa Anderson and Raoul Mowatt wrote this article and I quote from certain sections of it. One quote: ``Limbaugh did not specify if the medicines he abused had been prescribed. And he did not address allegations by his former maid, Wilma Cline, that she had procured OxyContin, Lorcet and other painkillers for him.''
``At the present time, the authorities are conducting an investigation,'' Mowatt said, ``and I have been asked to limit my public comments until this investigation is complete.''
Quoting again, from the article, ``I do wonder if it is going to cause any softening in the way he perceives personal failings and weaknesses in others,'' said Rendall, who coauthored the book ``The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error.'' A critic of him said, ``I wonder if this is going to cause any softening in the way he perceives personal failings and weaknesses in others.''
Maybe we should all pray for Rush Limbaugh. Why not pray for him as we pray for other addicts. But I think somewhere there ought to be an acknowledgment of the fact that he is an addict and some request for forgiveness.
To continue from the article, ``He has been incredibly uncharitable. He has relentlessly exploited the personal weaknesses and failings of others. He has not extended the same understanding one suspects he would like to be getting right now,'' said Rendall. ``Some of his listeners are bound to be shaken by the fact that Rush has feet of clay.''
``While humility has never been the style of the bombastic Limbaugh, a dose of it might not hurt his image,'' said Harrison, another person who was asked to comment. ``Well, I guess he has to now join the rest of humanity and fess up to the fact that some of us are not as strong as others. If he is a hypocrite, well then so be it. He is not the only one.''
``Indeed, Limbaugh hardly is the first prominent conservative figure to tumble from the realm of sanctimony to shame. Once wildly popular television evangelists Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggert famously fell from their pulpits in the late 1980s, undone by missions of adultery and addiction to pornography, respectively. And just 5 months ago, former Reagan administration education Secretary William Bennett, best?selling author of such moralistic tomes as ``The Book of Virtues'' was revealed to have a major gambling habit. In Limbaugh's case, many thought his conservative listeners would be compassionate. This is a beloved man to his listeners. It would only draw them closer like a family gets closer in a time of crisis. The worst thing Limbaugh could do is to return to the air in too chastened a form,'' said one commentator. ``The only thing that can destroy Rush Limbaugh's career is Rush Limbaugh suddenly becoming a boring person, and it doesn't seem that he is about to become that,'' implying that to be compassionate is to be boring. To be tolerant is to be boring.
The excitement of Rush Limbaugh is that he has no mercy on people in trouble. It is another way in which the ruling class dominates the swindled classes. Rush Limbaugh is a jester. He is a joker. The kings had jesters, you know, and jokers. Sometimes they were very well paid. He stands for the ruling class and provides laughs for them by denigrating the poorest people who are being swindled at the bottom.
The great education reform swindle takes place because we do not recognize the problem that I just cited in Pakistan. If we do not educate people, we run the risk of them falling into the hands of a Taliban. I am not going to make any extreme projections, but Islam is the fastest growing religion in America today, and the people who are converting to Islam are black males. If you want to know what is relevant, how to relate one thing to another, black males are the people converting to Islam faster than anybody else. I am not saying that they are ready to rush out and become terrorists and join the Taliban, but it is an interesting development. They see something there that I do not quite understand, but it ought to be watched and understood.
People who are treated like dirt, if they are drug addicts, of course, they are even below that level, they are going to respond, the whole class is going to respond in ways which are not healthy for America. The great health care swindle goes on, the people who are going bankrupt, and a lot of them are middle class and upper middle class. I mentioned them before.
But the biggest swindle, of course, is the war on Iraq swindle. The war on Iraq swindle is the most outrageous of all. Dollars and lives are going down the drain, and the people who are running the operation refuse to be accountable to the Congress of the United States, and the leadership of the Congress of the United States refuses to make them accountable. They do not demand. The leadership is the Republican majority. They do not demand that the people come here and tell us what they are doing, how they intend to proceed with the spending of $87 billion, and when we can expect an exit.
The gentleman from Oregon (Mr. DeFazio), who was on the floor earlier, cited the fact that if you took the $87 billion and divided it among the Members of Congress, it will be above $200 million for each congressional district in America; that $87 billion would be more than $200 million. And he talked about all of the things we could do with that in terms of building schools, supporting better health care, et cetera. But those dollars are swindled away from the American people who are going to have to pay the bill with interest later on.
We have the swindle that refuses to spend dollars on targeted revenue?sharing back to our localities that are in trouble who are cutting the budgets of schools and services, so those localities can get through this recession, which they say is almost over; that kind of cooperation is needed. As I said before, disdain for the municipal elections, the local elections that are taking place today, that disdain is reflected in the way we appropriate money. We have not come to their aid. The Federal Government is the one place that does not have to balance the budget. New York City, New York State, 42 of the States were in such budget trouble that they had to cut the school budgets and, in some cases, the school year was cut. But the Federal Government has not come to their aid.
So as we end this session, as we are nearing the end of the session, I would like for my colleagues to reflect on the fact that there is no class warfare in America. The ruling class has completely pacified the swindled classes.
I want to end it with a little piece that summarizes that. It is a rap poem I put in the Congressional Record on Wednesday, July 16 called ``Let the Rich Go First.'' This is as a result of my anger when on July 10, there was a vote to stop the expenditure of funds which were being allocated for the study of the Wage an Hour Act to cut overtime and that vote was defeated by the Republican majority. At a time when we were voting to stop paying overtime to working families, shortly after that, it was announced that the soldiers in Iraq would have to be kept there longer than expected. Instead of 6 months, they may be kept there for a year. Reservists would be in for a year instead of 6 months. So overtime for the people dying and fighting in Iraq, we are fighting overtime for payment of working families.
``Let The Rich Go First.''
Keep your soldiers at home,
For overtime in Iraq
No comp time
Not even gratitude,
To exempt all heroes,
No combat rotation
Life on indefinite probation,
Scrooges running the Nation.
To the front lines
Let the rich go first -
For blood they got a thirst,
Let the superstars drink it
In the glorious trenches;
Leave the disadvantaged on the benches.
Have a message for the masters:
Tell Uncle Sam
His welfare pennies he can keep
For food stamps we refuse to leap
Through your hoops like beasts;
Just promise to leave our sons alone
And we will find our own feasts.
To Uncle Sam we offer a bargain:
Don't throw us dirty crumbs
Don't treat us like bums
And then demand
The full measure of devotion;
Our minds are now in motion
Is not such a bad notion.
Your swindle will not last
Recruiters we will not let pass,
Finally we opened our eyes-
Each family is a private enterprise.
Each child a precious prize;
We got American property rights,
Before our children die in war
This time we will choose the fights.
Let the rich go first:
They worry about
The overtime we abuse;
The battlefields they always choose
Their estates have the most to lose.
Let the rich go first!