Radio Nuggets

Jim Hightower




Bill Clinton did not

inhale. We’re clear on that, right?

But, recently, he did

swallow. It was on a return trip to

Washington from Mexico City, where the President had traveled to proclaim that his international drug war

is a tremendous success. Bill has a

tough time with Mexico on this issue, PR-wise, since every time he goes to praise the progress being

made there, one or more of their top

anti-drug officials turn out to be involved in the drug trade themselves. So who can blame Clinton for kicking back with a

beer on the trip home from his latest

song and dance in Mexico? It’s a nerve-soothing

beverage-and hey, alcohol is a legal drug. But hold your Clydesdales right there. The stewards on Air

Force One didn’t give the President a

tall Bud . . . but a Hemp Golden Beer!

This brew, made in

Kentucky, includes not only hops, barley and

water-but also hemp seed. The hemp

plant is a cousin of the dreaded marijuana plant. Even though hemp itself is not a drug and cannot make you high,

Clinton’s Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey

has been on an absolute tear against allowing American farmers to grow this profitable, highly useful, and

environmentally sensible crop. So US

businesses that use hemp to make paper, fuel, medicines, clothing, food and beer among other things, have to import the

hemp from China, Canada, Europe or

other places that are not so paranoid.

Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop, which markets several

hemp-based skin care products, heard

about Clinton’s beer experience. She wrote to him, saying "Congratulations on breaking the hemp barrier

on Air Force One." She also said,

"Don’t go wobbly with misinformation," urging him to support a legal distinction between hemp and marijuana so farmers

can begin to produce the hemp here.

This is Jim Hightower

saying . . . There’s no word from Bill

on that, but don’t expect him to have another hemp beer on Air Force One-the office of National Drug Control Policy

banned it from the plane, declaring it

an "inappropriate" drink for the president.





Time for another peek

[soap opera theme] into "The

Lifestyles of the Rich . . . And Cranky." Poor Michael and Susan Dell. They’re the richest people

in Austin, Texas, and among the 20

richest people in America-but, gosh, they’ve got to make ends meet just like your family and mine. And just like

families everywhere who build a house,

this founding family of Dell Computer Inc. needs to watch expenses. Especially when their house is three

stories and 33,000 square feet, has

eight bedrooms and bathrooms, 13 half baths, a conference room, a kitchen bigger than most restaurants, an exercise

room, an indoor pool, an outdoor pool,

cabanas, and a five-level terraced lawn. Their house is bigger than a shopping center, though not quite as

attractive-hey, money is about size,

not taste.

The Dells didn’t skimp on

building costs, architects,

landscaping charges, or interior decorators. Their house is the most expensive in Texas-and I’m counting Ross

Perot’s! They only got cost conscience

when they received their property tax bill. This is the money used by the local government to support

public schools, roads and other basic

services. The Dells though whined that their $600,000 assessment was way too high. OK, that’s a lot of

money for you and me, but for these

30-somethings who have a net worth of $13 billion, it’s like you paying $2 a year in property taxes. You should be so

lucky. But you’re not the Dells, who hired their own lawyers

and appraisers. They took the county to

court-costing us taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal fees-and, sure enough, they got their tax bill

knocked down to $250,000 a year-a 60%

cut. This means they’re going to be paying what would amount to about 50 cents a year. This is Jim Hightower saying . . . The tax appraiser said, "Just because they are

Michael and Susan Dell doesn’t mean they

should pay more than their fair share. Everyone must be treated equally." Sure . . . as long as we all have

lawyers and appraisers and political

clout that’s equal.



It’s payday . . . do you

know where your next million is coming

from? Geoffrey Bible, like all of us, is just trying to make ends meet-though some of us have a longer stretch

than Bible does. He’s top dog at

Philip Morris, and his board of directors not only paid him a nice $1.6 million salary last year, but added a

sweet dollop of cream on top: a bonus

of $3.5 million. But his payday didn’t end there–add in stock options, incentive pay, and a category

called "other compensation," and

Geoffrey totaled right at $24 million for 1998. This is not counting his limousine, country club memberships, company

jet, housing allowance, executive chef,

and a free weekly shampoo for his poodle. All this was a year in which Philip Morris didn’t do well.

Who knows, in a good year he might’ve

gotten that poodle shampooed twice a week. Are there no limits on the excesses of these guys?

Well, yes, say the

companies, we have "executive

compensation committees" that carefully scrutinize CEO performance and allocate pay accordingly. Sure, and

the monkeys are guarding the zoo.

Guess who heads the compensation committee

at Philip Morris? John Reed. When he’s

not keeping his hawk-eye on Geoffrey Bible,

he’s Chief Executive of Citigroup, the financial services conglomerate. One reason that John Reed might have a

slightly skewed sense of how much

Bible should be paid is that he himself hauled off $1.7 million in salary last year, plus a $7.8 million bonus and

stock options worth $16.9 million. So,

hey, he says, if I made $26 million, how far off is it to pay Bible $24 million? And so what that Bible’s company had a rough year?–Citigroup, under John Reed, saw its

profits fall by a billion-and-a-half

bucks, and thousands of workers were fired, so you can’t hold tough times against the guy at the top. This is Jim Hightower saying . . . For CEOs, it’s a





Wow, the Dow above


Is this great news, or

what? USA Today gushed that "10,000 is more than a number . . . It’s like Mark McGwire beating the home

run record. It’s like the calendar

turning to the year 2000 . . . It’s a cultural milestone."

It’s being hailed not

only as a milestone for the rich, but also for the middle class, with the media reporting deadpan that

"everybody" is in the stock

market today. Time for a Reality Check

[echo] . . . check . . . check. Everybody?! Six out of ten Americans own no stock at

all-not through a broker, a mutual

fund, a pension . . . nothing. And of those who do own stock, the vast majority have a tidbit that

gives them no sense of ownership in the

Dow, much less giving them a thrill that the thing is above 10,000. Millions of Americans are in the

stock market only because their pension

plans got canceled, and now they’ve been thrust into a 401(K), which is nowhere near as desirable, and

they’re not at all happy to be there.

Consider this reality that the establishment

media never mentions: 90 percent of

the value of all stocks is held by the richest 10 percent of American families. They’re the privileged

10 percent who are giddy about the Dow

busting 10,000. The rest of us are more concerned about finding good jobs at good wages, not to

mention jobs with decent benefits and a

real pension. Here’s another statistic

that the media, the politicians, and

the Wall Street analysts don’t broadcast: Weekly wages for average workers today are 12 percent below

the wages of workers in 1973. And guess

what? When a corporation cuts jobs and cuts wages, the stock price of that corporation goes up . . .

which raises the Dow Jones Average. So

the misfortune of the workaday majority, which is seeing its income go down, is a boost to the fortunes of those

at the top. This is Jim Hightower saying . . . What’s more important

for America–a rise in the Dow . . . or

a rise in the middle class?




Out in Nebraska, when

they say something is "janked"-they

mean it’s all messed up. Well, PBS the Public

Broadcasting Service-seems to be janked. The original idea of establishing a "public" network was that

it would present a non-corporate view

of the world. But in recent years, PBS has been taking more and more corporate "underwriting," which is

another way of saying advertising, and more and more of its programming now mouths the

corporate line. For example, a recent feature on public radio’s

"All Things Considered" news show

told about a new game called the "Stock Market Game." This is a blatant piece of Wall Street propaganda being

directed at 11 and 12 year olds-just

the kind of thing that PBS was created to expose and lampoon. But, no, the new, corporate-friendly public radio

network broadcast the feature without

an iota of journalistic skepticism, much less criticism or outrage. In playing this "game," teams of

elementary school kids are given

$100,000 each in pretend money to invest in the stock market. Stop right there. Who in the real world has $100,000 to

invest? Maybe five percent of

Americans-but the public radio reporter asked no embarrassing questions. Instead, a "game coordinator"

in one of the schools was interviewed

to tell us that sometimes the kids make a lot of money with their virtual investments, and sometimes they don’t

make so much. Not a whisper that

sometimes, you lose everything! Another perky proponent of the Stock Market Game was interviewed and gushed

that it was a great way "to teach

students about the American economy." This is Jim Hightower saying . . . Yeah, if you want to teach them



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