Michael Kinsley: An Agenda For Victory

Gordon Mohr gojomo@usa.net
Mon, 15 Oct 2001 21:15:21 -0700

A plan many of us could get behind:


# An Agenda for Victory
# By Michael Kinsley
# Posted Monday, Oct. 15, 2001, at 4:00 p.m. PT
# At this extraordinary moment, all Americans must put aside partisan
# differences and special-interest concerns in order to pursue two
# overwhelming national goals: defeating the evil of terrorism and
# salvaging our economic prosperity. We must prove to the terrorists
# that they cannot change our way of life, so this is no time for
# business as usual. We must be bold and we must be quick: We cannot
# enjoy the luxury of worrying about matters that occupied our minds
# just a few short weeks ago. History will not be kind if we allow
# lesser concerns such as Gary Condit or fiscal responsibility to
# distract us from the urgent task at hand.
# Working together with only minimal partisan bickering, President
# Bush and the Congress have already produced a bailout for the
# nation's troubled airlines. They are on the verge of agreement on
# new anti-terrorism legislation that strikes a necessary balance
# between the individual's desire for privacy and the government's
# legitimate need to know everything about you. And President Bush is
# said to be considering other helpful measures, such as financial
# subsidies for the hard-hit insurance industry and another round of
# business tax cuts. Every day's op-ed page, it seems, brings more
# valuable suggestions from patriotic ideologues, industrialists, and
# trade organizations.
# All this is well and good. But a truly adequate plan for military,
# economic, and spiritual victory requires us to go much further. For
# example, bailouts for the business sectors directly affected by the
# events of Sept. 11 do nothing for sectors that may have been hit
# just as hard, albeit indirectly. There are many such sectors, but
# one in particular is especially vital to America's future -- and
# the world's: the Internet. Even before Sept. 11, Internet companies
# were going under by the dozens every week. Now, hundreds more
# bankruptcies are threatened as advertising plans are scaled back
# and investors get even more skeptical than before.
# This must not be allowed to continue. It would be a cruel irony
# indeed if the forces of medievalism were permitted to strangle the
# infant economy of the future in its bed. What is needed is a
# carefully targeted tax credit of 50 percent for new or additional
# investments in Internet startup firms -- or for money spent on
# advertising in online publications. We also need a 100 percent
# capital-gains-tax exclusion for Internet-related stocks. Nothing
# would do more to revive what was wrongly dismissed so often as a
# "speculative bubble" that this misnomer became a self-fulfilling
# prophecy. (Would that we had such a "speculative bubble" today!) As
# someone who works in the Internet sector, I can testify that I and
# all my Internet colleagues are totally dedicated to showing Osama
# Bin Laden that he cannot drive the American spirit off-line -- but
# we need a little encouragement.
# Another essential step in the war against terrorism is for
# President Bush to order the Justice Department to drop its
# antitrust suit against Microsoft. As an employee and stockholder, I
# know the dispiriting effect this litigation is having on people at
# one of the U.S. economy's most important companies. At a time when
# the U.S. government is reaching out to Russia (our sworn enemy
# until recently) and dropping sanctions against Pakistan (which is
# only building nuclear weapons, f'r Chrissake) -- all to strengthen
# the alliance against terror -- our government should not be picking
# a fight with this American company with so much software to
# contribute to the war effort.
# Third, we need to seriously consider special tax considerations,
# regulatory relief, and possibly even direct financial subsidies for
# people named "Mike" or "Michael." In this time of crisis, we cannot
# allow superficial considerations of fairness to prevent us from
# doing what is necessary to assure that this essential group of
# Americans is fully engaged in the war effort.
# According to the National Association of Michaels and Allied Names,
# what is necessary includes, at a minimum, suspension of all
# automobile speed limits and parking restrictions and a blanket
# forgiveness for all past tickets, as well as various tax incentives
# -- for Michaels only. In order to have the proper incentive effect,
# these must be made permanent and not just for the course of the
# war. We Michaels are not asking for special treatment. At some
# stage, when fiscal circumstances allow, consideration should be
# given to extending similar benefits to people with other names.
# But government cannot do it all. What can individual citizens --
# those who are not contributing directly as members of the uniformed
# services -- do to serve the war effort? President Bush has asked us
# all to do our bit by buying something. A local RV dealer here in
# Seattle has been invoking this advice in TV commercials urging
# folks to buy a home on wheels as a patriotic gesture. New York
# Mayor Rudy Giuliani has said the best thing people can do to help
# is to visit New York, stay in a hotel, and buy theater tickets.
# These are stern challenges, appropriate to the crisis we face. For
# those who feel they cannot take on this kind of burden, let me
# suggest an alternative: Send me the money and I will buy an RV in
# Seattle, drive it to New York, stay in a hotel, see a few shows,
# eat in some nice restaurants, and buy something there, too. As
# politicians from the president on down have reminded us, sacrifice
# will be required from every American if this war is going to be
# won.
# ___
# Michael Kinsley is editor of Slate.