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Various Shorts


Jim Hightower

THE

DARTH VADER 

OF CAMPAIGN-FINANCE REFORM

It’s

Goober Time again {Beanie-cap Breakdown} — time to give the Hightower Radio

"Gooberhead Award" to yet another public figure who’s got his tongue

going 100 miles an hour . . . but forgot to put his brain in gear.

Today’s

awardee is a repeat winner: Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky! Mitch is the Darth

Vader of campaign finance reform-a man whose mission in life is to smite any and

all proposals that would even slightly slow down the gusher of corrupt corporate

money that is poisoning American politics. So zealous is he that Sen. Mcconnell

has lashed out at a group he would normally be playing kissy-face with:

Corporate executives. He recently fired off angry letters to some 20 top

executives of such companies as Xerox, General Motors, and Sara Lee.

These

execs are members of the Committee for Economic Development, a corporate policy

group that is very conservative, like Mitch. But it seems that CED has done the

unpardonable-it has come out in support of a campaign-finance reform proposal-a

very limited, mild reform, but enough to drive McConnell crazy. Of course,

that’s a pretty short trip for him.

The

New York Times reports that Sen McConnell lambasted the wayward executives for

trying to {quote} "eviscerate private sector participation in

politics" and attempting to impose "anti-business speech

controls." Uh . . . Sen. Gooberhead, these people are the "private

sector" . . . they are "business". Never mind all that, bellowed

Darth Vader, who even scrawled at the bottom of one letter a notation that

{quote} "I hope you will resign from CED".

This

is Jim Hightower saying . . . What a Gooberhead. The implied message from this

powerful senator is: Back-off of any reform proposal, or kiss-off getting any

legislation you want from the Republican senate. Mitch McConnell’s letter is a

perfect example of why we have got to reform this whole corrupt process.

"Defying Senator, Executives Press Donation Rules Change" by Don Van

Natta, Jr. New York Times: September 1, 1999.

 

 

GOING

TO WAR IN COLOMBIA

Does

this scenario have a ring of deja vu for you? The U.S. government intervenes in

a civil war in a foreign land on the side of the ruling elites, providing a few

helicopters at first, then more military equipment, then putting military

"advisors" on the ground . . . and the next thing you know, U.S.

officials are announcing that our country’s vital national interests are at

stake in this civil war and we must excalate our involvement.

Welcome

to Colombia, which will become the new Vietnam for America if you and I don’t

start saying "no" as loudly and clearly as we can. The elite class in

Bogata, Colombia’s capitol, have long been enjoying a prosperous life–a

prosperity not shared with the majority of the country. As a result, rebels in

the countryside have gained strength and now control 40 percent of the nation,

getting ever closer to Bogota’s enclaves of privilege.

The

U.S. has quietly stepped in, trying to shore up the ruling government’s inept,

corrupt, and brutal military. You might be surprised to learn that Colombia

already is the third largest recipient of U.S. military and foreigh aid money in

the world-nearly $300 million this year. We also have more than 200 military

advisors and trainers there. And now, the Clinton Administration is set to

escalate our involvement dramatically, putting a billion dollars into Colombia’s

government, and sending more U.S. equipment and personnel to try to defeat the

rebels.

The

rationale is that all-purpose bugaboo-the War on Drugs. Colombia supplies 80

percent of the cocaine coming into the U.S., and the rebels get financing from

some of this trafficking. Of course, the Colombian military–a notorius human

rights abuser–also profits from the drug trade, as do some of those elites in

Bogota.

This

is Jim Hightower saying . . . Be alert! In the name of our failed drug war,

Washington is getting us mired deeper and deeper in a shooting war. "US

Ready to boost aid to troubled Colombia" by Douglas Farah. Washington Post:

August 23, 1999. "Colombia abuzz with talk of intervention" by Serge

Kovaleski. Washington Post: August 23, 1999.

 

 

FOWL

FACTORIES

What’s

the most dangerous animal in the U.S. (besides human beings, I mean)? The

rattlesnake? Grizzly bear? Wolves?

None

of the above. The chicken is the most dangerous animal to us humans. It’s been

widely reported that this humble bird is now subjected to such an inhumane,

industrialized processing system that it now commonly comes to your table

contaminated with such bacterial killers as salmonella and E coli. But, less

reported is the fact that 40,000 workers will be seriously injured this year as

they grapple with the eight billion chickens that zip along the conveyor belts

of America’s processing plants.

Investigative

journalist Christopher Cook reports in Harper’s Magazine that in these fowl

factories, chickens are not the only victims. Workers called

"catchers" go into holding pens that are suffocatingly hot-each

catcher uses his or her hands to grab some 8,000 frightened, pecking, clawing

birds a day, with many of the catch cutting and urinating on the workers.

Another group called "evisc" workers manually eviscerate the chickens,

twisting and pulling the innards from up to 100 chickens per minute- a job that

costs many their fingernails, which are destroyed by the bacteria in chicken

carcasses. Workers called "deboners" stand shoulder to shoulder,

slicing and hacking with knives and scissors all day-and slashing themselves as

their blades slip off the slimy carcasses or as they slip on floors slick with

chicken gore.

Cook

reports that these workers typically are paid only $6.50 an hour, have 16 times

the national average of trauma injuries. It’s hard to get workers to do this

awful jobs, so processors like Tyson and Kentucky Fried are pressuring congress

to create a "guest worker" program so impoverished immigrants can be

brought in to do their dirty work.

This

is Jim Hightower saying . . . Hey Congress. . . clean up this mess . . . don’t

cover it up. "Fowl Trouble" by Christopher Cook. Harper’s Magazine:

August 1999.

 

 

CEO

EXCESS Time for today’s "Hog Report" {snorting hogs}!

Today’s

featured porkers are the CEOs of America’s top corporations who are not merely

hogging the trough, they’ve climbed right up into it and are keeping everyone

else away. Only 20 years ago, the average Boss Hog made 42 times what the

average factory worker was paid-a disparity that was considered an outrage at

the time.

But

a report by two groups-Institute for Policy Studies and United for a Fair

Economy-finds that the disparity today has increased by 1,000 percent! The

average CEO now makes 419 times what the average blue collar worker is paid.

What’s

at work here is the fact that CEOs have gained autocratic power over our

economy-the power to inflate their paychecks absurdly and to hold down the

paychecks of employees artificially and arbitrarily.

Think

about it like this: If the minimum wage had gone up in the decade of the

nineties as drastically as the top Hog’s pay has gone up, it would not be $5.15

and hour, but $22 an hour! And if the average worker’s pay had risen at the same

rate as CEO pay, today’s worker would be getting $110,000 a year.

Executive

excess is rationalized by the hogs in the name of competition: We have to pay

our executives top dollar, they say, in order to compete for world-class CEO

talent. But if you actually look at the rest of the world, as these two groups

did in their report, you’ll find that no other country is fattening their

executives like ours are fattening themselves. In Europe, Canada, Australia, and

elsewhere, corporations are competing against ours while paying top salaries

that are only a fourth of U.S. execs are hauling off.

This

is Jim Hightower saying . . . Time to get the hogs out of the trough. At least

let’s stop subsidizing CEO extravagance by letting corporations deduct these

gross paychecks from their taxes-make the shareholders foot the bill, not us

taxpayers. "Decade of Executive Excess: The 1990s." Study and findings

by Groups including Institute for Policy Studies, United For a Fair Economy.

September 1, 1999.

 

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