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UNITED STATES: The gilded Achilles heels of Uncle Sam

It is significant that, despite all the talk of the need for financial reform of the American system, candidates who actively promoted it did badly in the elections; the machines which oppose it are too powerful. The well-informed and reasonable Economist ran (November 11-17) a devastating commentary entitled "Selling America to the highest bidder", giving details: Democratic enthusiasts gave free cigarettes to the homeless people of Wisconsin ito persuade them to vote.

A startling insight into corruption came from John Loftus, a Boston Roman Catholic; lawyer and the darling of retired Florida Jews, who are building large Holocaust museums there. His book, notably The Unholy Trinity (ie, the Nazis, Swiss banks and the Catholic Church) enabled Nazi criminals to escape to the United States and Latin America and, with the help of bankers like the Rockefellers, to move their money around. His documentation, which he got despite the opposition of the government agencies involved, seems solid, He describes US Middle East policy as being motivated solely by a concern for oil, i.e., power and money (this omits many factors). The Bush family was deeply involved in the oil intrigues, and so to a lesser degree was that of Gore. Loftus turned up in Florida, where he addressed enthusiastic Jewish audiences. It looked as though his aim was to reinforce the belief of Democrats, notably Jews, that they should fight hidden corruption which was behind the whole political operation. It will admittedly be an indictment of the American system if Gore, who won more votes than Bush, should be the loser because of the strange American electoral rules.

The American obsession with money hits universities, as was evident from an AP (November 19) article entitled "Survey: Salaries of private university presidents rising. Number earning more than $300,000 has doubled in 3 years". The highest salary ($ 655, 557) was earned by the president of the University of Pennsylvania, Judith Rodin, the first woman to run an Ivy League university. Patrick M. Callan of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education expressed the public concern at this development, as did Nannerl O. Keohane, president of Duke University. She was a lone voice among university presidents, who spend a considerable amount of time fighting the not unreasonable demands of workers, nurses and teaching assistants. That universities, which evolved from monasteries, should have been caught up in this mad gold rush reinforces the worldwide perception of the United States as obsessed with money and power, not a good image for the world leader.

The world was scandalized when a few years ago the Supreme Court opposed financial reform of elections on the grounds that money is a form of free speech. The explanation for this pronouncement is that Supreme Court justices are political appointees, and so are part of the system. In the Florida debacle it was strange to hear judges proclaiming that "the United States is a state of law." The law's an ass.

Ronald Hilton - 11/20/00