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 Sun, 21 Jan 2018 02:07:24 -0800 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 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> 18e195468c13256101337170650ecfda Why so Many Americans Hate Trump's Tax Reform for 11/29/2017 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/11/17/why-so-many-americans-hate-trumps-tax-reform Wed, 29 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Sam Rayburn of Texas, who was a legendary Speaker of the U.S. House in the 1940s and '50s, offered this piece of ethical advice for lawmakers who were conflicted over whether to vote for the People of the lobbyists: "Every now and then, a politician ought to do something just because it's right." </p> <p>Wow, ethics &#8212; how quaint! Today's House Speaker, Paul Ryan, has put his own perverted twist to Rayburn's ethics, advising his Republican majority to vote for anything just because it's right-wing. Along with Donald Trump and Senate leader Mitch McConnell, Ryan is now pushing for a rewrite of America's tax law that's so far to the right that it's horribly wrong.</p> <p>Tax proposals are written in dense legalese and gobbledygook, but core purpose of this 429-page monster is shockingly easy to understand: The Trump-Ryan-McConnell triumvirate intends to take money from millions of working families and give it to the world's wealthiest people and richest multinational corporations. <p>Updated: Wed Nov 29, 2017</p> 70329d707b048945cebfe0a474eb2705 Earth Dinner for 11/22/2017 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/11/17/earth-dinner Wed, 22 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Let's talk Turkey!</p> <p>No, not the orange butterball sitting in the Oval Office.<p>Updated: Wed Nov 22, 2017</p> 6c35cf31398e0063128451b9c5396080 Donald Trump's Strange Bro-mances with Duterte and Putin for 11/15/2017 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/11/17/donald-trumps-strange-bro-mances-with-duterte-and-putin Wed, 15 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>"We've had a great relationship," exulted a giddy Donald Trump, following his two-day schmoozefest in Manila with the thuggish president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte.</p> <p>Duterte, a self-styled "toughie" who boasts of personally killing many people and who likes to compare himself to Satan, has been on a murderous rampage since his election last year. In the name of eliminating drugs, he has unleashed a massive military assault across the country, not merely targeting dealers, but also anyone using drugs. His onslaught against his own people is a human rights atrocity, with untold thousands essentially being executed in what are antiseptically termed "extrajudicial killings" &#8212; ie, illegal, unjustified... murderous.<p>Updated: Wed Nov 15, 2017</p> d4030816d4e5494bcb5ba8d91ad1721b Why Reward Bad Corporate Behavior with More Tax Breaks? for 11/08/2017 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/11/17/why-reward-bad-corporate-behavior-with-more-tax-breaks Wed, 08 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0800 <p>As anyone who has ever been to any of the many cities that are graced with a Trump hotel, casino, golf resort, etc. likely knows, Donald Trump insists that his name be gaudily displayed in giant letters across every structure he owns &#8212; preferably in gold. </p> <p>Now, he's taken ownership of a massive new structure that'll reach across all of America, and he might not want his name slapped all over this one. It's Trump's towering redo of our country's tax law &#8212; and, no surprise, his plan is truly golden. For the super-rich, that is, revealing in hard numbers whom his presidency really serves: Not just the 1 percent, but especially the 1-percent-of-the-1-percent who are multimillionaires and billionaires... like &#8212; guess who? &#8212; him.</p> <p>First and foremost, the Trump tax plan slashes the payments that giant corporations make to support our nation. He claims that this will let corporate elites raise the wages of workers and create jobs, winking at the fact that, of course, the elites will pocket every dime of Trump's tax giveaways. And he doesn't mention a little secret gotcha: A third of his corporate benefits would go to foreign owners of American corporations.<p>Updated: Wed Nov 08, 2017</p> 587d41f8f1738302e13fc00870d1ca70 Why Does Amazon Get Corporate Welfare? for 11/01/2017 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/10/17/why-does-amazon-get-corporate-welfare Wed, 01 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Jeffrey Preston Bezos is the man of unbounded ambition who founded Amazon, the online retailing colossus that trumpets itself as "Earth's most customer-centric company." He's considered a model of tech wizardry for having totally reinvented retail marketing for our smart-phone, globally-linked age. Amazon peddles a cornucopia of goods through a convenient "1-click" ordering system, rapidly delivering the goods right to your doorstep. </p> <p>No one has imagined corporate domination more expansively nor pushed it harder or further than Bezos, and his Amazon stands today as the most advanced and the most ambitious model of a future under oligarchic control, including control of markets, work, information, consumerism, media and beyond. He doesn't merely see himself remaking commerce with his vast electronic networks, algorithms and metrics &#8212; but rebooting America itself, including changing our society's concept of a job, the definition of community, and even our basic values of fairness and justice. It amounts to a breathtaking aspiration to transform our culture's democratic paradigm into a corporate imperium, led by Amazon. </p> <p>Amazon's most recent announcement is that it wants to get inside your home &#8212; and, ironically, it's using "security" as its rationale. Rather than Amazon leaving products you order on your doorstep, the corporation wants a key to unlock your door so its delivery crews can do you the favor of placing the products you order inside your abode.<p>Updated: Wed Nov 01, 2017</p> 0b4b1b0723145ce2cc49ec2ec0141a06 Trump's Wars for 10/25/2017 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/10/17/trumps-wars Wed, 25 Oct 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p>So, President Trump makes what was to be a condolence phone call to the young widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, one of the four American soldiers killed on a military patrol in Niger &#8212; and all of a sudden, the White House explodes in yet another political conflagration and a new burst of presidential lies.</p> <p>Was Trump disrespectful to the widow by not referring to her dead husband by name, but as "your guy," then declaring that Sgt. Johnson "knew what he was signing up for"? She and two witnesses to the call say "yes"; Trump and his White House PR flacks issued a furious string of "no."</p> <p>But rather than simply let it go at "no," Trump couldn't resist patting himself on the back and politicizing the whole exchange. He bragged that the has called the family of every soldier killed since he's been commander-in-chief. Turns out the chief lied about that &#8212; many grieving families say they got no call from him. Then he took a cheap shot at Obama and other former presidents, declaring that most of them didn't call any families of dead soldiers. Another lie, for Obama and others did, in fact, make calls.<p>Updated: Wed Oct 25, 2017</p> 86790ac173c96b3de31959503b3c3b9a Are You Ready for Corporate America's Robot Economy? for 10/18/2017 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/10/17/are-you-ready-for-corporate-americas-robot-economy Wed, 18 Oct 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p>With corporations socking away massive profits, and with the labor market fairly tight, why are worker's wages still stuck at miserly and even poverty levels?</p> <p>One big reason is that corporate boards and CEOs have their heads stuck in a dreamy future. Nearly every economic sector is actually spending vast sums of money on workers &#8212; just not human workers. While few Americans are aware of it, bosses are quietly investing in hordes of sophisticated autonomous robots powered by a cognitive technology called artificial intelligence. Instead of paying a decent wage to you, corporations are buying millions of these cheap, human-esque thinking machines in order to take a shocking number of jobs from... well, from you.</p> <p>Accountants, bank loan officers, financial analysts, insurance claims adjustors &#8212; all of these "numbers jobs" are already falling to bots that can calculate much faster and more accurately than people.<p>Updated: Wed Oct 18, 2017</p> 9a08d262f4795ffff1aa2d244a9be008 We are Luddites for 10/11/2017 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/10/17/we-are-luddites Wed, 11 Oct 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p>"THE ROBOTS ARE COMING! THE ROBOTS ARE COMING! ... EEK! THEY'RE ALREADY HERE!"</p> <p>Today's proliferation of industrial robots is an advanced generation of powerful, autonomous machines driven by artificial intelligence. The profiteers and techies propelling us into the deep unknown of a robot economy concede that the fast-evolving machines will be radically disruptive, not just in the workplace, but throughout society. Yet, they insist that AI will end up a godsend, even for the millions "adjusted" out of their jobs. Trust us, they say, genuflecting to Efficiency and Productivity, their twin gods of economic progress. Intelligent robots will reduce labor costs (efficiency) and increase output (productivity), thus generating the one product the Powers That Be constantly demand from our economy: more wealth. Just wait, they say, this is gonna be BIG!</p> <p>Those who question the establishment's mantra that labor-reducing technologies are inherently good and will magically enrich everyone are derided with high tech's ultimate insult &#8212; LUDDITE!<p>Updated: Wed Oct 11, 2017</p> 3b0babaa20dadba1cc47f7b4312b154d Think Your Job Is Safe From The Robot Invasion? for 10/04/2017 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/10/17/think-your-job-is-safe-from-the-robot-invasion Wed, 04 Oct 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Industrial automatons have been on the march for years, devouring the middle-class job opportunities of factory workers. But this time is different.</p> <p>If you think your family's future is safe because you don't rely on factory work, think again. Rapid advances in AI have already turned yesterday's science fiction into today's brave new "creative destruction" &#8212; the constant churn of economic and cultural innovations that destroy existing ways of doing things. A network of inventors and investors, hundreds of university engineering and math departments, thousands of government-funded research projects, countless freelance innovators and the entire corporate establishment are "re-inventing" practically every workplace by displacing humans with "more efficient" AI robots.</p> <p>This mass-scale deployment of robots has already ushered in a whole new world of work. It's a CEO's capitalist paradise, where the workforce doesn't call in sick or take vacations, can't file lawsuits, doesn't organize unions &#8212; and is cheap. <p>Updated: Wed Oct 04, 2017</p> 2612d3beed1a800d99bf24f73af0d1de Do Better than a Rip-Off Health Care System for 09/27/2017 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/09/17/do-better-than-a-rip-off-health-care-system Wed, 27 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p>News flash: Republican congressional leaders have come up with yet another grand scheme to fix America's health care system. So, look out &#8212; because when they say "fix," they mean it in the same sense as your veterinarian uses the word!</p> <p>For the gazillionth time, GOP lawmakers have put a shiny new ribbon on their same old ugly package of health insurance deforms. As before, this latest plan would eliminate coverage for millions of Americans, raise the price of insurance for the middle class and deliver much less care. But one guy says he loves it: "A great bill," tweeted Donald Trump.</p> <p>I'm guessing that, once again, our Twitterer-in-Chief hasn't actually read the bill he is praising, or even scanned the factual summary of what it does. But, he might want to hear the opinions of his fellow corporate chieftains who have read every word of it. For example, the CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield flatly rejects the re-write, because it "would allow states to waive key consumer protections [and] undermine safeguards for those with pre-existing conditions." Also, he points out that the plan would increase uncertainty in the marketplace, making coverage more expensive and jeopardizing Americans' choice of health plans.<p>Updated: Wed Sep 27, 2017</p> 860bbfd3acf7e6a7c0542536934fe4a0 Populist Victories Won In This Conservative Colorado Town for 09/20/2017 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/09/17/populist-victories-won-in-this-conservative-colorado-town Wed, 20 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p>What's been happening politically and culturally this year in Colorado's second largest city is inspiring. Progressive/populist organizing to build grassroots movements to counter plutocratic rule and govern in the people's interest now have a model of success in one of the least likely places.</p> <p>Since the 1990s, Colorado Springs has been shaped by an inordinate number of right-wing institutions. Yet, the Springs also is home to a hardy band of progressives, including environmentalists, unionists, women's champions, scrappy entrepreneurs, LGBTQ activists, students and teachers, a sizeable immigrant population, social justice church groups and some sensible libertarians. </p> <p>With Bernie Sanders bringing new, highly energized voters into play, young people who had previously evinced zero interest in the old Democratic-Republican duopoly were rallying behind Bernie's grassroots populism. His revolutionary call to rein in America's corporate oligarchs also sparked a fire in older, working-class people, including Repubs and none-of-the-above folks who'd given up on the idea that either party gave a damn about people like them. A shift was occurring in Colorado Springs' political zeitgeist &#8212; one that might open a path for new alignments and a progressive-populist movement.<p>Updated: Wed Sep 20, 2017</p> e429ee30ad32578aff80b774a2661dc8 How To Get A Health Care System For People, Not Just For Corporate Profit for 09/13/2017 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/09/17/how-to-get-a-health-care-system-for-people-not-just-for-corporate-profit Wed, 13 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p></p><p>Believe it or not, we can get Congress to enact a new program providing good quality, lower-cost health care for your family and (what the hell, let's think big here) for every man, woman and (especially) every child in our society.<p>Updated: Wed Sep 13, 2017</p> 3b985b0a0c85f4406903b6c7a34b0162 The Gaping Hole in Trump's Border Wall for 09/06/2017 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/09/17/the-gaping-hole-in-trumps-border-wall Wed, 06 Sep 2017 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>How much of our money does Donald Trump want to pour into his xenophobic fantasy of erecting an impenetrable wall on our Mexican border?</p> <p>The big-businessman-turned-president insists that costs be damned &#8212; just build it! That seems to be a very un-businesslike approach &#8212; but then, it's not his money, is it? For those of you who do care, one measure of what the total tab might be is that he's now demanding $1.6 billion from Congress to start construction. How much wall will that buy? Seventy-four miles. And how long is the U.S.-Mexican border that he wants to seal off? One thousand, nine-hundred miles long. So, $1.6 billion down, and only 1,826 miles to go!<p>Updated: Wed Sep 06, 2017</p>