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Shorts


Jim Hightower

Getting

Away From It All

In

the roiling sea of communications technology that threatens to engulf us–phone

calls, email, voice mail, faxes, the internet, laptops, etc.–it’s good to seek

refuge every now and again in the tranquility of nature, where the chirping you

hear is not an electronic device, but birds.

AP

writer Michael Hill reports on a getaway he enjoyed at the aptly named Lake

Placid, high in the Adirondack peaks of upstate New York, far away from

high-tech. A state forester told him about a moment of supreme calm he had

recently experienced on the summit of Mount Marcy: "It was cold and windy.

Beautiful. You could hear the wind whistling and everything, then this . . .

[cell phone beeps] Some guy was talking on a cell phone to his

stockbroker!"

Come

on people-get a grip! Get a life! Bad enough that self-involved boors and

self-important bores feel it necessary to clutter up restaurants, airplanes,

theaters, and every other urban space with their mindless noise pollution–but

the great outdoors? I know, I know, cell phones can possibly be a lifesaver in

the wilderness if someone breaks a leg or gets lost. Fine, take one with you,

but turn the damn thing off unless there’s actually like, you know . . . an

emergency. And, as reporter Hill observes, shouting into the phone to say

something like, "Honey, you won’t believe it, but I’m standing right in

front of a big moose right now!" is not an emergency. It’s a nuisance, an

abomination, an act of such raw rudeness that nature lovers could be excused for

lynching you right on the spot!

Phone

contamination is growing so rapidly that cell-phone freaks are demanding that

cell-phone towers be put in our parks. Apparently there are some pockets of

wilderness where cell phones won’t work–and we can’t have that . . . can we?

This

is Jim Hightower saying . . . When in the wilds, don’t communicate with your

stockbroker, commune with nature. "

 

Making

Hi Tech Low Wage

"Hey,"

said the customer to the coffee shop waitress, "it says here that Bill

Clinton claims he’s created 23 million new jobs since he’s been in office."

"I know," said the waitress, "I’ve got three of them."

Not

to worry, say the Powers That Be to the job seekers of the future, all you’ve

got to do is to wire your future into the information age, get high-tech skills,

cross that bridge to the 21st Century, and there’ll be jobs aplenty begging for

you to take them. Al Gore, George W. Bush, Bill Bradley–among other

presidential candidates–flatly assert that to get a job in the "new

economy" of the next decade will require you to have advanced technological

skills.

Problem

is, it ain’t so, Joe. In fact, the hordes of people they’re herding into

engineering and computer classes will have no where to go when they come out.

Education analyst Richard Rothstein, writing in The New York Times, reports that

in the next decade, "employers will hire more than three times as many

cashiers as engineers. They will need more than twice as many food-counter

workers, waiters, and waitresses than all the systems analysts, computer

engineers, mathematicians, and database administrators combined."

Already,

America has millions of people who are overeducated for the jobs they

have–chances are, for example, that waitress who has three of Bill Clinton’s

new jobs also has a college degree. The Labor Department projects an increase of

less than one percent in jobs requiring a college degree, yet the high-tech

industry and their politicians are pushing more and more people into college. As

Rothstein writes, "we already enroll enough college students to fill

foreseeable vacancies in professional fields"-so what they are doing is

deliberately flooding the market with too many people chasing too few jobs,

which will bust the pay level for everyone.

This

is Jim Hightower saying . . . It’s a cynical ploy by the Powers That Be to turn

the middle-class’s high-tech future into low-wage work.

 

Corporatism

is not Conservatism

If

hypocrisy was a gas, Republican Governor John Engler of Michigan would be the

Goodyear Blimp, because he’s full of it.

Engler

is one of the self-proclaimed "conservative" governors in various

states who are always on their high horse about bringing power from Washington

back to the local level, so the people have greater control. That’s a good

principle, but for Engler and his ilk, "local level" means the state

government, where corporate lobbyists keep a firm grip on things. They don’t

want power going to the real grassroots level of cities and towns, where unruly

citizens often take things into their own hands.

Indeed,

Engler is trying to usurp local self-government in Michigan. The issue that

prompted his raid of local control was passage in Detroit and Ypsilanti of

"Living Wage" initiatives that require corporations getting city

contracts or subsidies to pay workers a wage that is above the poverty level-in

Detroit, the wage is $8.23 an hour, plus health-care insurance. Detroit voters

approved this initiative last year by a whopping 4-to-1 margin!

Oh,

how the corporations howled, running to Engler’s office and demanding that he

overrule this outbreak of local democracy and allow them to continue getting

taxpayer’s money while paying poverty wages to workers. Sure enough, Governor

Goodyear, fully inflated with gaseous hypocrisy, is backing state legislation

that would prevent local governments from setting wage standards. And, just for

good measure, the legislation also would prohibit municipalities from regulating

billboards more strictly than the state does, from passing no-smoking

ordinances, and from enacting strong consumer, environmental, job-safety and

other laws that the people want-but that the corporate powers oppose.

This

is Jim Hightower saying . . . Governors like Engler masquerade as

"conservatives," but they’re really nothing but corporatists, always

willing to stomp on conservative principles to serve their corporate backers.

 

Robert

Rubin’s Merry Go Round

Once

again [Calliope/Merry-go-round music] Washington’s phantasmagoric merry-go-round

is spinning its magic, and you never know who’s going to turn up where.

Today,

our focus is on Robert Rubin who, when he first spun into public view in 1992,

was sitting atop the Wall Street firm of Goldman Sachs and was serving as

candidate Bill Clinton’s guide to backing up Wall Street campaign funds. The

next time around was 1993, and there was Rubin sitting pretty as a top White

House aide, directing Clinton’s economic policies. In this position, he helped

kill a minimum-wage increase for low-income workers, at the same time he pushed

to pass NAFTA, which has taken more than half-a-million good-paying jobs out of

our country.

Then

the merry-go-round made another turn and-Voila!-there came Robert Rubin all

dressed up as Clinton’s Secretary of the Treasury. In addition to pushing for

more globalization schemes, Secretary Rubin used his cabinet position to back a

boondoggle financial reorganization bill that allows big banks, insurance

giants, and brokerage firms to merge together. The chief outfit lobbying for

this conglomeration of power over consumers was Citigroup-a behemoth that

includes Citibank, Travelers Insurance, and the Wall Street brokerage firm of

Solomon Smith Barney.

Now,

the merry-go-round has gone around the curve again and this time, Robert Rubin

has stepped down as Treasury Secretary. Guess where he’s turning up next? Heeere

he comes-riding high as the new co-chairman of Citigroup! Yes, the very same

financial conglomerate that was the primary beneficiary of the bill that Rubin

worked so hard to pass.

Rubin

and Citigroup’s executives insist that the fact that they worked so cozily to

pass this multibillion-dollar boondoggle of a bill had absolutely nothing to do

with the fact that Rubin is now cashing in on the deal.

This

is Jim Hightower saying . . . I was born at night, but it wasn’t last night, how

about you?

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