Jim Hightower from Creators Syndicate https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Mon, 23 Apr 2018 03:16:59 -0700 https://www.creators.com/ http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rss Jim Hightower from Creators Syndicate https://cdn.creators.com/features/jim-hightower-thumb.jpg https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower 3f27dc6d4f4583f6b84fa2fe0766a946 Examining the Kochtopus for 04/18/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/04/18/examining-the-kochtopus Wed, 18 Apr 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Multibillionaires Charles and David Koch want nothing less than to supplant America's core democratic principle of majority rule &#8212; the will of The People &#8212; with their core plutocratic principle of inviolable property rights, also known as domination by the wealthy minority. Their notion is that "property" (accumulated wealth and the means to get it) is sacrosanct and cannot be restricted by the pesky majority for the Common Good. Cloaking their efforts with layers of dark-money front groups, the Koch brothers have used their enormous assets to mount a far-ranging, ultrasophisticated assault on American democracy.</p> <p>From their early involvement in The John Birch Society (daddy Fred Koch being an early member), they continued their rightward march, and by the 1970s, both had plunged into the abyss of a laissez-fairyland plutocracy. With the fervor of religious cultists, they've devoted themselves to the cause of "liberty" &#8212; by which they mean the government's only proper role is keeping the avaricious pursuits of the wealthy owner class free from any interference by you, me and the democratic "us." They believe that We The People can neither tax the riches of the owner class nor set rules on how it treats workers, consumers, nature ... and society as a whole.</p> <p>Even more shocking than their arrogance is just how far they've come and are willing to go with this scheme. For nearly 40 years, they and their uber-rich allies have been battering the legal structures and mechanisms that give ordinary people some chance to control their own destinies. Among the brothers' goals are the following:<p>Updated: Wed Apr 18, 2018</p> 0695f900de9045fc1e8958bd9db925db Learning from DeMarco for 04/11/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/04/18/learning-from-demarco Wed, 11 Apr 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Some are born with good luck, but I was 30 years old before Lady Luck smiled on me with full radiance. She arrived in the form of a petite bundle of feistiness, inherent smarts, political savviness, personal warmth, playfulness and beauty both inside and out, named Susan DeMarco.</p> <p>I apologize for turning inward for a personal commentary today, but DeMarco (as she's called by all who have known her) is an admirable example of the virtue of citizen activism. She didn't dwell in the media limelight, yet she's one of our country's everyday people who consistently works to make a positive difference in all they do, accomplishing so much more good than the bulk of politicos and other sparklies who are perpetually in the public eye. She's been a teacher, a leader of public interest groups, an investigative journalist, the author of three books, a government official, a public policy innovator and a mentor, as well as a lifelong champion of economic fairness, social justice and equal opportunity for all. In other words, as one activist put it, "she's a firecracker." For some 45 years, it's been my good fortune to team up with this woman in assorted progressive populist battles against the big shots trying to run roughshod over the democratic values of workaday people.<p>Updated: Wed Apr 11, 2018</p> f0e0b455bc62c3cccc57032a1316b011 A Regime of Austerity Versus the Common Good for 04/04/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/04/18/a-regime-of-austerity-versus-the-common-good Wed, 04 Apr 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Sometimes, it's useful to state the obvious. Here's a fact, for example, that we all know to be true: America's economy is enormous. It's worth saying that out loud and repeating it to ourselves and others, because today's Powers That Be (economic, political and media) are wrongly forcing a regime of austerity on our nation. They're insisting that we hoi polloi must downsize our middle class dreams, claiming that America no longer has the wherewithal to do big things.</p> <p>Their narrow and pessimistic prescription for our future is not only at odds with the American spirit, but also at odds with the facts. The wealth of this nation is naturally huge and expansive &#8212; thanks to such fundamentals as the sheer size and diversity of our land, the breadth and depth of our natural resources and especially the can-do attitude of our enterprising and hardworking people. Far from shrinking down, we have the economic strength today to be spreading the middle class and advancing the historic, egalitarian ideals that were planted at America's founding.<p>Updated: Wed Apr 04, 2018</p> ae75fe9c59f4f1ebc860808e08f8cb23 How Low Can the Barons of High Finance Go? for 03/28/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/03/18/how-low-can-the-barons-of-high-finance-go Wed, 28 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Question: What do you get when you combine ignorance, ideological know-nothingism, imperiousness and incompetence? Answer: Betsy DeVos.</p> <p>She is Donald Trump's multi-billionaire Education Secretary who hates the very idea of public education and loves the plutocratic idea of corporate rule over Democracy. DeVos presently holds first place in the contest for worst member of Donald Trump's cabinet (a little like winning the title of ugliest toad in the swamp). Her claim to be first among the worst has been buttressed by her bizarre eagerness to shill for one of the ugliest parts of the financial services industry &#8212; the Wall Street-backed corporations that lure people into high-interest, financially-ruinous student loans to attend rip-off for-profit colleges.</p> <p>All across the country, 5 million students &#8212; largely single moms, veterans and other low-income people targeted by this nefarious network of colleges, lenders and collection agencies &#8212; have defaulted on their student loan debt and have had their credit ratings and job improvement prospects destroyed by the profiteering private education system that DeVos carelessly promotes. Her latest favor for them is an insidious new policy she issued unilaterally asserting that her agency can pre-empt any state laws designed to stop the blatant lies and abuses of these loan-servicing corporations. Her bureaucratic claim is that such a state effort to protect student borrowers "undermines uniform administration" of student loans. In her shriveled world laissez-fairy values, you see, program efficiency trumps such basic human values as economic fairness and social justice.<p>Updated: Wed Mar 28, 2018</p> 8d8a470587ccd3d8e597d092ca96242d Thieves in the Suites for 03/21/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/03/18/thieves-in-the-suites Wed, 21 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Today's captains of corporate capitalism like to think of themselves not as mere businesspeople, but as modern society's genius "innovators." </p> <p>Sounds positive... until you ask the key question: Innovation for what purpose? After all, some of society's most inventive minds are flimflammers, Ponzi-schemers, gamers and embezzlers. Sure enough, an inordinate amount of the innovation comes out of corporate suites these days, amounting to shameless schemes to dupe and rip off rank and file workers.<p>Updated: Wed Mar 21, 2018</p> 913b04b71651cef204f0123f556ee184 Everybody Does Better When Everybody Does Better for 03/14/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/03/18/everybody-does-better-when-everybody-does-better Wed, 14 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0700 <p>My father, W.F. "High" Hightower, was a populist. Only, he didn't know it &#8212; didn't know the word, much less the history or anything about populism's rich democratic ethos.</p> <p>But he knew about bankers who regularly squeezed small-business families like ours with usurious interest rates. He knew how rough it was for a local business to fight off deep-pocketed chain stores that use predatory pricing and sledgehammer advertising budgets to seize local markets. And he saw with his very own eyes that the governor and legislature in faraway Austin operated as subsidiaries of Big Oil, the utility monopolies, and the other giants that were allowed to profit by picking the pockets of the general public.</p> <p>He and my mother, Lillie, knew one other thing, too: There was once a Democratic Party that stood up for regular folks and actively promoted the ethic of the common good. Having been raised on hard-scrabble Texas farms and come of age in the Depression, they didn't see the New Deal through ideological glasses, but simply as the help they and the rest of America needed &#8212; a path out of both depression and the Depression.<p>Updated: Wed Mar 14, 2018</p> 194bbe98cae9a0dbdee362bd5514a916 We're Told the Dow Jones Average... for 03/07/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/03/18/were-told-the-dow-jones-average Wed, 07 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Language matters. For example, the way our society's leaders choose to comment on the health of America's economy can either make clear to us commoners what's going on &#8212; or obfuscate, hide and even lie about the reality we face.</p> <p>Consider that the most common measurement that the media, politicians and corporations use to tell us whether our economy is zooming or sputtering is Wall Street's index of stock prices. The media literally spews out some number every hour indicating that the Dow Jones Average of stock prices is up, down or sluggish &#8212; as though everyone is waiting breathlessly for that news.</p> <p>But wait &#8212; nearly all stock is owned by the richest 10 percent of Americans, so the Dow Jones Average says nothing about the economic condition of the 90 percent majority of Americans. For us &#8212; and for the true economic health of America as a whole &#8212; we need to know the Doug Jones Average. In plain language, the question leaders should ask every day is: How're Doug and Delores Jones doing?<p>Updated: Wed Mar 07, 2018</p> f604399a1a7399871e5d841c0faaa4df The Zeitgeist, It Is A-Changing for 02/28/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/02/18/the-zeitgeist-it-is-a-changing Wed, 28 Feb 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Last year's grassroots progressive runs for office laid to rest much of the Democratic Party's orthodoxy about who is "electable," and how it's essential that candidates &#8212; in hopes of attracting moderate "swing" voters &#8212; run big-money campaigns on small-bore, middle-of-the-road issues. For example, meet these eight big-issue/low-dollar candidates who rejected party orthodox and won:</p> <p>&#8212;Danica Roem &#8212; Virginia House of Delegates</p> <p>&#8212;Andrea Jenkins &#8212; Minneapolis City Council<p>Updated: Wed Feb 28, 2018</p> 7be61e3f8ef59d072e2d247015c3830d What Will the Trump Mob Kill Next? for 02/21/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/02/18/what-will-the-trump-mob-kill-next Wed, 21 Feb 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Breaking news: Trump & Company are a murderous mob!</p> <p>From the start of his White House tenure, the Trumpsters have plotted, stalked and serially killed vibrant members of the English Language. </p> <p>The word "Fact" was the first to go. Robust and universally respected, Fact was assassinated last year when one of Trump's hired killers poisoned it with an unknown substance nicknamed: "Alternative Fact." <p>Updated: Wed Feb 21, 2018</p> 382381c62d55243ffbe2ae64d800c752 The South is Rising Again for 02/14/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/02/18/the-south-is-rising-again Wed, 14 Feb 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p>In the past year, we've seen a burst of audacious political assertiveness coming out of Old Dixie, and I'm not talking about those Trumpeteering, tiki-torch-brandishing, tinhorn KKKers the media focuses on. The real story is that a fresh, "Reclaim the South" movement of young African-American populists is emerging, kindling long-suppressed hope in the racially scarred Deep South and offering the possibility of real economic and cultural progress.</p> <p>Guess who's mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, the state's capitol city? Chokwe Antar Lumumba &#8212; a black, 34-year-old lawyer who was raised in Jackson in a family and community of longtime Black Power activists. Last June, backed by Our Revolution and Working Families Party, Lumumba was elected with 93 percent (!) of the vote, and he promptly pledged to make Jackson "the most radical city on the planet." By radical, he means aggressively innovative in developing policies and programs focused directly on lifting up Jackson's middle-class and poor residents, rather than adopting the failed trickle-down model of nearly every other city. For example, instead of giving away government subsidies to lure rich corporations, Lumumba is trying to make the city a national showcase of home-grown cooperative enterprises owned by the people themselves.</p> <p>In August, the incumbent mayor of Birmingham, Alabama &#8212; an old-style, don't-rock-the-boat politico favored by the city's power brokers &#8212; thought he was cruising to an easy re-election. Then wham! &#8212; an underdog populist challenge by 36-year-old African-American attorney, Randall Woodfin, stunned the city powers with a first-place showing that forced the mayor into an October runoff. Woodfin, a city prosecutor and school board member, went on to defeat Birmingham's corporate and political establishment by winning the mayorship with 58 percent of the vote. He did it by proposing an all-out populist agenda, building a broad coalition of local progressive activists and running a dogged ground game with the full support of Our Revolution, Working Families Party, and other national groups. Our Revolution, for instance, deployed some 70 volunteers to help in the runoff and sent more than 11,000 text messages to voters urging support for Woodfin.<p>Updated: Wed Feb 14, 2018</p> 98372ef98ecd42c114ff0cc724cc0e1a Exposing Our 'Populist' President as a Naked Plutocrat for 02/07/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/02/18/exposing-our-populist-president-as-a-naked-plutocrat Wed, 07 Feb 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Why does Donald Trump constantly preface his outlandish lies with such phrases as: "To be honest with you," "To tell the truth" and "Believe me"?</p> <p>Because even he knows that as a lifelong con-man, his voice takes on the tone of a snake-oil salesman when he starts exaggerating and prevaricating, so he reflexively tries to puff up his credibility with an extra dose of bluster: "No really, trust me, I never lie..." In fact, just in the past year, Trump's documented whoppers rank him as the lyingest president in U.S. history. And that included Nixon!</p> <p>It's not the volume of his fabrications that is so gross, but their enormity. Most damnable of all has been his masquerading as a golden-haired billionaire "populist" who's standing up for America's hard-hit middle class against Wall Street, corporate lobbyists and moneyed elites &#8212; a carefully crafted PR pose that has duped many working stiffs into thinking he is their champion.<p>Updated: Wed Feb 07, 2018</p> 6ea9f954df2399c5dfb012cd1ec29ff6 Why the American Majority Despises Trump's Washington for 01/31/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/01/18/why-the-american-majority-despises-trumps-washington Wed, 31 Jan 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Donald Trump, never lacking in self-esteem, bragged in 2016: "I know words &#8212; I have the best words." </p> <p>Well, sometimes he does put together a coherent sentence, using some very fine words that convey great promise, such as this one: "I'm going to fight for every person in this country who believes government should serve the people &#8212; not the donors and special interests." And, if those words are too highbrow for you, Trump made the same promise with some punchier words, declaring he would "drain the swamp" to rid Washington of those creepy, crawly corporate lobbyists. </p> <p>Excellent words! But words only matter if the speaker actually means them, backing their rhetorical promise with action. As we've seen though, far from draining the swamp, this president proceeded immediately to convert the White House itself into a fetid cesspool of self-serving corporate executives, lobbyists, and banksters.<p>Updated: Wed Jan 31, 2018</p> bcd91ae78280ed3e22e10d71417bc428 Fed Up with Corporate-Rigged Politics? for 01/24/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/01/18/fed-up-with-corporate-rigged-politics Wed, 24 Jan 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Last June, after Democratic candidates had lost four straight special Congressional elections (Rob Quist in Montana, James Thompson in Kansas, Archie Parnell in South Carolina, and Jon Ossoff in Georgia), America's purveyors of conventional political wisdom simultaneously jumped to the conclusion that the policies and message of Democrats were just too progressive for our nation of moderate-right voters. The Washington cognoscenti expressed dismay that, despite Trump's dismal public approval ratings and the nationwide surge of "Resist!" campaigns, the hapless Democratic Party was still unable to score any electoral victories. "Why Do Democrats Keep Losing in 2017?" queried a June headline in The Atlantic. "Democrats just went 0-4. When will they win?" asked a cynical CNN reporter. "It is a bit surprising that Democrats haven't managed a single victory yet," declared a University of Wisconsin election expert. "Panic is setting in on the left," exclaimed a Vox headline.</p> <p>Really?</p> <p>No, not really. The professional political observers are like cats watching the wrong mouse hole. They are so fixated on the minutia of Washington-centric politics that they're missing the much bigger story of transformative political changes that have erupted in every region of the country. Far from panicking, America's political left is organizing, strategizing, mobilizing ... and WINNING. Coalitions of local progressive activists (newly energized by an infusion of dynamic, creative young people and people of color) came together after the 2016 election. They recruited and trained candidates from their own ranks; methodically knocked on doors, having thousands of front-porch conversations with voters on basic issues; mobilized supporters for intensive election-day turn-out drives; and elected scores of audaciously populist mayors, council members, legislators, and other officials.<p>Updated: Wed Jan 24, 2018</p> e4da43b8f8efda6b05135462ed97e3a6 Who Really Pays for Corporate Subsidies? for 01/17/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/01/18/who-really-pays-for-corporate-subsidies Wed, 17 Jan 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p>The hustlers claim that job incentives are a sound investment of our tax dollars, because those new jobs create new taxpayers, meaning investments soon pay for themselves. Hmmm ... not quite. In fact, not even close. </p> <p>Last year, Good Jobs First tracked the 386 incentive deals since 1976 that gave at least $50 million to a corporation, and then it tallied the number of jobs created. The average cost per job was $658,427. Each! That's likely far more than cities and states can recover through sales, property, income and all other taxes those jobholders would pay in their lifetimes. Worse, the rise of megadeals in the past 10 years has made the job-incentive argument mega-ridiculous: &#8212;New York gave a $258-million subsidy to Yahoo and got 125 jobs &#8212; costing taxpayers $2 million per job.</p> <p>&#8212;Oregon awarded $2 billion to Nike and got 500 jobs &#8212; $4 million per job.<p>Updated: Wed Jan 17, 2018</p> 1dcc929467981f0ed69e30bdd79bba2c What's Killing America's Middle Class? for 01/10/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/01/18/whats-killing-americas-middle-class Wed, 10 Jan 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p>It is said that the rich and poor will always be among us &#8212; but nowhere is it written that the middle class is a sure thing. </p> <p>Even in this country of grand egalitarian aspirations &#8212; where the common yeoman (neither rich nor poor) has been hailed from 1776 forward as America's greatest strength &#8212; the U.S. actually had no broad middle class until one was created in the 1930s and '40s. Before then, most Americans either lived in poverty or right next door.</p> <p>And, yes, "created" is the correct term for how our middle class came to be, with two historic forces of social transformation pushing it. First, the widespread economic devastation of the Great Depression created a grassroots rebellion of labor, farmers, poor people, the elderly and others against the careless moneyed class that caused the crash. These forces produced FDR and his New Deal of Social Security, worker rights and protections, consumer laws, anti-monopoly restraints and other policies that put government on the side of the people, empowering them to counter much of the corporate greed preventing their upward mobility.<p>Updated: Wed Jan 10, 2018</p> d94e707aabee003a4ff1cf3695c7d6d5 Inequality is Feeding America for 01/03/2018 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/01/18/inequality-is-feeding-america Wed, 03 Jan 2018 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Inequality doesn't just come out of the blue; it's intentionally created by decisions that elites make &#8212; usually behind closed doors, so those knocked down don't know what (or who) hit them.</p> <p>Take America's 4 million fast-food workers, whose average pay hovers around a miserly $300 a week before taxes.</p> <p>With the labor market tightening, why don't they just hop down the street to another franchise offering a better deal? Many try that, only to be rejected again and again, unaware that most fast-food chains have hidden within their franchising contracts "no-hire agreements," prohibiting one franchisee from hiring another's employees.<p>Updated: Wed Jan 03, 2018</p> 79b20e6a7523700af406c74d077d22c6 Breakfast and Beer for 12/27/2017 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/12/17/breakfast-and-beer Wed, 27 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Let's talk about two daily essentials: Breakfast and, of course, beer.</p> <p>Mass marketers of breakfast cereals have been in a downward sales spiral for about a decade, so they're getting back to their roots (sort of). Few folks know that some of the oldest and biggest brands of today's artificially flavored, neon-colored, empty-calorie cereals started out as health foods, often springing from religious or utopian movements.</p> <p>For instance, Ralston Purina's Wheat Chex cereal was first packaged in 1937 under the name of Shredded Ralston, specially formulated for followers of Ralstonism. What was that? A strict, bizarre, racist cult with a demonic mission: To make America a nation of Caucasian purity. Webster Edgerly, the unhinged founder of Ralstonism, proposed an efficient means for achieving his pure-white dream world: Castrate all males of "impure" lineages at birth.<p>Updated: Wed Dec 27, 2017</p> 38a65450989a063b37e1710b04cd3738 Coalitions Of Agriculture Outsiders Tackle Powerful Agribiz Insiders for 12/20/2017 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/12/17/coalitions-of-agriculture-outsiders-tackle-powerful-agribiz-insiders Wed, 20 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p>In the 1980s, when I was Texas Ag commissioner, my staff and I proposed a comprehensive set of state rules to protect farmworkers, public health, our water supplies and farmers themselves from the life-threatening consequences of toxic pesticides. </p> <p>But trying to enact these policies in Texas meant taking on the enormous money and power of the chemical lobby, as well as a hostile Republican governor, and a legislature largely made up of corporate lapdogs. All of the above were howling furiously at us, snarling that they were going to shred the new protections we'd laid out. When I told my legislative director that it seemed like the political odds were against us, his response was not a confidence booster: "Some of the evens are against us, too," he said.</p> <p>Yet, by rallying a big coalition of family farmers, consumers, environmentalists, labor groups, church leaders, and others, and then bringing these "outsiders" inside the usually closed legislative lair to confront the cozy club of lawmakers and lobbyists &#8212; we won!<p>Updated: Wed Dec 20, 2017</p> 313828776a9377873869e52b559108bc The Great Scamazon for 12/13/2017 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/12/17/the-great-scamazon Wed, 13 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p>As you're doing your holiday shopping this season, think about this: While big brand names travel hither, thither and yon to play Milk the Taxpayer, Amazon is totally rewriting the rules of the taxpayer subsidies game, super-sizing their piles of public money without even having to go door to door. </p> <p>In September, the $136-billion-a-year, multi-tentacled monopolist sparked a prairie fire of excitement among state and local economic development officials when it coyly announced its intention to build a second corporate headquarters in Someplace, North America. </p> <p>CEO Jeff Bezos baited his location-subsidy trap with red meat, announcing that Amazon "expect[ed] to invest over $5 billion in construction and grow this second headquarters to include as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs."<p>Updated: Wed Dec 13, 2017</p> b36b935fb296808d5f88b2e509c79b67 Net Neutrality for 12/06/2017 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/12/17/net-neutrality Wed, 06 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>We're told by politicos, pundits and internet providers themselves that access to the net is crucial to our educational achievement, future prosperity and ability to be self-governing. Yet, while this digital highway is deemed vital to our nation's well-being, access to it is not offered as a public service &#8212; i.e., an investment in the common good. Instead, it is treated as just another profit center for a few corporations &#8212; so few that selling broadband access to the world wide web has become a very lucrative source of what economists call "monopoly rents," the ability of corporations in a non-competitive market to extract excess profits from customers.</p> <p>Even with the monopoly rents, the great virtue of the internet is that no one controls its content. This digital communication technology has been so spectacularly successful and so socially valuable because it is a wide-open, democratic forum, accessible on equal terms to all who want to put information, images, opinions, etc. on it or to download any of the same from it. Since its invention, the guiding principle behind the use of this liberating technology has been that no corporation, government, religion or other controlling power should be its gatekeeper, impeding the free and equal flow of communication to and from those who use it (yes, there is some censorship around the world, as well as here at home, but clever users commonly find their way around it).<p>Updated: Wed Dec 06, 2017</p>