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WHAT’S MISSING IN CAMPAIGN 2000


Jim Hightower

Well,

there we have it: Gore-Bush. Dull versus dullard. The political establishments

of the two-party duopoly successfully rose up to surround, defend, and shove

forward their chosen ones, both girded with tens of millions of dollars from the

exact same sources of corrupt corporate money.

This

means that the basic kitchen-table issues that actually matter to us will not

even be on the table for discussion, since the money masters of the GoreBush

travelling medicine show have decreed that their candidates must not disturb the

populace with any questioning of the conventional wisdom and corporate order.

Instead, Gore and Bush offer "Election 2000: A Space

Odyssey"-completely out of touch with the real life of our country’s

workaday majority. Here are a few examples of what the Democrat and Republican

will NOT be discussing:

 

The

Mugging of the Middle Class

Al

and George are in perfect harmony on the prosperity theme, with each assuring

voters that they will dutifully extend America’s razzle-dazzle, Wall

Street-driven economic "Boom"! Both are, totally tone deaf to the

chorus of America’s majority asking: A boom for whom? Real wages are lower today

than when Nixon was president. Eight-out-of-ten families have seen their incomes

go flat or go down in this period of so-called prosperity. More than 90 percent

of the gains in stock wealth have gone to the wealthiest 10 percent of families.

Farm bankruptcies, corporate downsizings, and family debt are setting new

records. Why is this gritty reality not being raised-at least by the

"Democrat"? Rather than reaching out to the middle class, Gore and

Bush are in agreement to continue the mugging-both support tax and trade

programs that subsidize more downsizings and exporting of U.S. jobs, both favor

using immigration policy to allow high-tech companies to import cheap computer

engineers and programmers to take the majority of our high-tech jobs and

undercut the salary scale for the whole industry, and both fawn over Alan

Greenspan, favoring his reappointment as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board,

from whence he pursues a relentless policy of depressing wages.

 

Return

of the Robber Barons

In

a greed-grab more feverish than a gold rush, every industry in our country is

being consolidated, concentrated, and conglomerated by huge corporations merging

with each other to form entities with names like GlobalGoliath MegaHugeCorp,

Inc. The bottom-line is a rapid shrinking of competition and a radical rise in

monopoly power affecting our jobs, health care, the news we’re fed, and much,

much more. The CEOs,with wide, toothy grins, rationalize their mergers in terms

of "consumer benefits." Do we look like we have suckerwrappers around

our heads? Is your bank a better place, is your cable-tv bill lower, is your

medical care better, is your air travel friendlier, is the nightly news any

newsier . . . as the result of these rampant consolidations? A handful of

corporate and investor elites enjoy a golden windfall from the mergers; everyone

else loses-workers, consumers, taxpayers, small businesses, communities, small

shareholders . . . everyone. Yet this avaricious and destructive re-ordering of

America’s economic structure is being done with no public discussion, much less

a challenge. Instead of Teddy Roosevelt or "Fighting Bob" Lafollette,

we get Al and George taking millions of campaign dollars from the merging barons

and, like the monkeys, seeing, hearing, and speaking no evil.

 

Globaloney

Corporate

globalization is nothing but Ronald Reagan’s trickle-down economics writ

large-if we simply unleash the Great Stallions of Global Corporate Power, we’re

told, then By Gipper, these beneficent beasts will naturally produce enormous

wealth, put a Lexus in every peasant’s garage, cause every brutish and bloody

dictatorship to dissolve into utopian democracies, cure genital herpes,

eliminate halitosis worldwide, and let everyone have a Nike swoosh on their

clothing. Only it hasn’t quite worked out this way. Instead, the U.S. has lost

hundreds of thousands of good jobs, as our corporate stallions have stampeded to

poverty-stricken nations to take advantage of powerless and dirt-cheap labor;

the joint-ventures that GM, GE, Boeing, and all the rest form with the ruling

regimes of these impoverished lands further enrich the regimes, giving them the

global coin they need to keep their people impoverished and powerless; the

secret, autocratic, corporate controlled tribunals set up by NAFTA and the WTO

to enforce this global rapaciousness have been empowered, without our knowledge

or consent, to over-rule our national, state, and local laws, thereby stealing

our most fundamental right: self-government. Neither Gore nor Bush will question

this outrage. Au contraire, Bubba, both worship at the holy alter of globaloney

and insist on staying the course-a course paved with the golden bricks of their

campaign funders.

 

America’s

Freaking Drug War

It

doesn’t get much more stupid than this political boondoggle that wastes $50

billion of our tax money each year, that imprisons half-a-million of our

citizens for nothing but simple possession or low-level dealing, that allows

police at all levels to seize the private property (cars, homes, cash,

tupperware, everything) of even innocent citizens, that results in

unconstitutional profiling and searches of innocent citizens, that prevents U.S.

farmers from being able to grow profitable and environmentally-sound fields of

industrial hemp, that has our military spending nearly a billion bucks a year to

intervene (on the wrong side) in a civil war in Colombia . . . and et cetera ad

nauseum. Democrat Gore has not piped up in opposition to any of these

absurdities, and Republican Bush says he wants to get more repressive and spend

more on such madness, so the presidential "debate" will ignore a

failed drug policy that is doing deep damage to our people, our constitution,

and what’s left of the government’s credibility.

 

Tax

Reform

Even

though the corporate media is highlighting tax cuts as a "BIG"

difference between the two dominant-party candidates, their plans are like the

difference between Bud Lite and Miller Lite-weak beer all around. Both talk only

about federal income taxes, deliberately diverting any public attention from the

tax that most burdens the majority of working Americans: the payroll tax. This

takes 7 1/2 percent of the income of anyone making up to $76,000 a year (15% if

you’re self-employed). If you make more than this-even if like Bill Gates and

others you make millions more than this each year-you’re still taxed only on

your first $76,000 in income. Why should 100% of a working stiff’s income be

taxed, but only 1% of Gates’ income take a hit? Why not start the payroll tax at

$78,000, rather than capping it there, thus freeing working families from these

regressive taxes and putting the burden on the most privileged citizens? Now

there’s a real tax-cut debate! Other possibilities are an international

currency-exchange tax on corporations and speculators, and a transactions tax on

all short-term stock sales, thus taxing speculation and allowing a zeroing-out

of income tax on the labor of people making, say, less than $30,000 a year,

which is about half of Americans. Another good debate could be had over a

pollution and natural resources tax, applying a progressive rate that climbs

according to the amount of pollution you cause and the resources you consume.

But these ideas would require a boldness and ingenuity that cannot come from two

candidates shackled to the very moneyed interests that profit from today’s

regressive tax policies, leaving the candidates to think small and pick nits.

 

Universal

Health Care

This

was the big issue of ’92 for Clinton-Gore, who decried the fact that 38 million

Americans lacked any medical coverage at all. Seven years of Clinton-Gore later,

44.3 million Americans are uncovered. This time, Gore is a health-care

minimalist, offering a plan that possibly, maybe,

might-could-but-don’t-hold-me-to-it cover about one-eighth of the citizens in

need. Bush wouldn’t go so far. Missing entirely is the debate we ultimately must

have, which is to create an American version of Canada’s single-payer system-the

only way to provide health care for all, cut costs, and improve both service and

health. Big surprise: Both parties are butt deep in campaign funds from HMOs and

insurance giants, the profiteers that would be the only losers in a single-payer

plan.

 

Stopping

the Money Corruption of Politics and Government

Gore

and bush are shameless poseurs on the reform issue, cynically prancing on the

far edges of reform, while neither they nor their parties want even the modest

changes they’re willing to talk about. Both are locked onto the matter of

"soft money," the unlimited millions that corporations and unions give

to the political parties (though overwhelmingly it’s corporate cash that plays

in the soft money game). Gore would outlaw soft money, and Bush would outlaw it

for corporations and unions, but allow CEOs, fat cat investors, and other

individuals to continue pumping millions through the soft-money loophole. Not a

whisper do we get from these two reform frauds on public financing of all

elections, which is the one way we finally could get the corrupting private

money out of the process. If you want public policy to reflect genuine public

interest, rather than private interests, we’ve got to fund the democratic

process publicly, rather than privately. Doing this closes all loopholes for

special-interest money, but it does something else that might be even more

important-it allows regular people to run for office again, since a teacher,

small farmer, retail clerk, cab driver, or whomever could get access to the same

pool of public campaign funds that incumbents and the elites would have.

Already, Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont have passed state laws for

public financing, while Connecticut, Missouri, and Oregon will vote on it this

year. Why not a national debate?

The

good news is that GoreBush can run, but they can’t hide from these issues. Among

other legitimate third-party candidates who will be actively raising some of

them, Ralph Nader already is on the hustings talking about all of these and more

as he campaigns for the Green Party presidential nomination. Ralph will be a

contender-he will have been in all 50 states by June 1, he will raise at least

$5 million to finance a grassroots campaign, he and his volunteers will qualify

the Greens for the ballot in 40 to 50 states, he has an experienced political

staff on the job (campaign manager, field director, fund raiser, press aide,

scheduler, web master, et al), he has top legal minds already working to put him

into this fall’s debates with Gore and Bush . . . and he’s going to go right

into the face of power as only Ralph can do, rallying disaffected voters and the

young, filling in what’s been missing in Campaign 2000. I’m excited about his

run, and meanwhile, check out his web site: www.votenader.com.

 

WHY

AL AND GEORGE SING IN PERFECT HARMONY FROM THE CORPORATE SONGBOOK 66

Corporations That Have Put At Least $50,000 Into Both Gore and Bush

AT&T

Philip

Morris

Amer

Financial Group

Microsoft

Atlantic

Richfield Co.

SBC

Communications

Enron

Mirage

Resorts

Federal

Express

Citigroup

Amer

Airlines

Bell

Atlantic

Anheuser-Busch

Limited

Inc.

Pfizer

Rite

Aid

Schering-Plough

BellSouth

Joseph

E. Seagram & Sons

Bristol-Myers

Squibb

Union

Pacific

Blue

Cross & Blue

Shield

MBNA

Corp

America

Online

Amer

Intl Group

MCI

Worldcom

Ernst

& Young

Circus

Circus

Enterprises

Sprint

AFLAC

Time

Warner

Boeing

Prudential

Insurance

Ocean

Spray Cranberries

Paine

Webber

MGM

Grand

Archer

Daniels Midland

Walt

Disney

Coca-Cola

Flo-Sun

Sugar Co.

Lockheed

Martin

Intl.

Game Technology

United

Airlines

Oracle

Exxon

Mobil

United

Technologies

US

West

Pacific

Gas & Electric

Upjohn

Owens

Corning

Chevron

Park

Place

Entertainment

Bacardi

Martini USA

Boston

Capital Partners

Eli

Lilly & Co.

Georgia-Pacific

Amer

Home Products

Amer

Express

Bechtel

Group

Loews

Corp

Sunoco

General

Electric

Northern

Telecom

General

Dynamics

New

York Life Insurance

United

HealthCare