It is three years since George W Bush took office. Since then he has been severely criticised, in some quarters, for starting two punitive wars. He has a reputation for protecting the interests of the big business who funded him and have close ties with his family and administration. So what, you may wonder, has been his impact on American society, how are the American people getting on under his rule?
Three million Americans who have lost their jobs since Mr Bush took office in January 2001, in a country with a shrinking welfare system. Last year alone, another 1.7 million Americans slipped below the poverty line, bringing the total to 34.6 million, one in eight of the population. Over 13 million of them are children. The US has the worst child poverty rate in the world. The richest, most powerful country in the world has the worst child poverty rate in the world.
Two years ago 31 million Americans were deemed to be "food insecure" (they literally did not know where their next meal was coming from). More than nine million were categorised by the US department of agriculture as experiencing real hunger, defined by the US department of agriculture as an "uneasy or painful sensation caused by lack of food due to lack of resources to obtain food."
The number of Americans on food stamps has risen from 17 million to 22 million since Bush moved into the Whitehouse. There are more Americans living in poverty now than there were in 1965. In addition to the rise in poverty there has been a decrease in the numbers claiming welfare. Millions of Americans were forced into taking minimum wage jobs instead of claiming welfare and this often left them without medical benefits or insurance. Those employed under welfare to work schemes are also the first out the door when recession hits.
There are nearly 44 million people in the States without medical insurance. Numbers of uninsured Americans have risen 10% under Bush, a rise of 4 million people. This forces people to avoid seeking medical treatment when they need it, purely because they fear a huge bill that may bankrupt them.
So for all the talk of US hegemony over the planet, those in power, with all these vast resources, are unable to provide a basic standard of living for millions of their citizens, or perhaps more accurately, they are unwilling to provide it. The US war budget for next year is almost $500 billion, almost equal to the federal deficit. Why doesn´t Bush feed his people? Why doesn´t he create jobs for them? 2.7 million manufacturing jobs have been lost under Bush.
What I really don´t understand is that the American people accept this treatment, although I must admit it is one thing to recognise an injustice and quite another to sort it out. Many of the failures of the American government over the last couple of decades have been imported to Britain and they are having a similarly negative effect, especially on the poor.
Bush isn´t really doing anything new; he´s just more blatant about it than his predecessors. He seems supremely confident of his position like an idiot prince who should never have been allowed to ascend to the throne. Americans should really be asking what has he done for us? At home poverty has increased; many Americans are going hungry and have nowhere to turn when they fall ill. The US is less popular around the world than they were under Clinton. Two wars have cost many American lives.
The first was supposed to be a reaction to the events of September 11th and the toppling of the two towers. Despite the fact that most of those responsible were from Saudi Arabia Bush invaded Afghanistan. The Taliban regime was removed and yet those alleged to have masterminded the Sept 11th affair remain at large. The second war was to deal with the threat of "weapons of mass destruction" (you know the kind that we have loads of) and to remove evil Saddam. Well Saddam is still at large, no weapons of mass destruction were found and months after the end of the war American troops are still dying there. Perhaps worst of all is the questionable contracts awarded to big US businesses to "rebuild" in Afghanistan and Iraq and the conclusion of a deal to build an oil pipeline through Afghanistan.
Sadly wars seem to make politicians more popular with some of their people, a fact Thatcher was quick to exploit with the Falkland Islands. It seems Bush has little opposition, or at least little effective opposition, much like Blair in Britain. A huge number of their dissenters refuse to vote which really just makes it easier for Bush and Blair, it is self defeating to avoid voting. I know many people argue there is no choice but if you can´t find an independent candidate then just go and spoil your ballot in protest - the alternative might be another term for Bush and Blair.