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Jim Hightower
Jim Hightower
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America's True Crisis


The greatest problem our nation faces can be summed up in one word: leadership. OK, make that three words: lack of leadership.

America's corporate, political, media, academic and other leaders aren't. They're not leaders — because they refuse to stand tall, be bold, offer vision, inspire and ... well, lead. We've got too many 5-watt bulbs sitting in 100-watt sockets. They're squishing the historic can-do spirit of the American people, reducing it to a dispiriting ethic of surrender that says we-shouldn't-even-try.

Start with our leaders' willful abdication of the American dream. They've given up on the notion of producing a shared prosperity that creates a broad middle class. For more than a decade now, Wall Street and Washington have let millions of jobs disappear and pushed wages down. They now yawn at the entrenched jobs crisis that is eating the middle class, and rather than responding to the plight of millions of hard-hit families, they're trying to bust unions and kill minimum-wage laws.

They call it "the new normal," in which the workaday majority of folks should simply ratchet down their hopes and expectations. A national commitment to quality education, health care for all and a decent retirement has been reduced to a "YO-YO" program: You're on Your Own.

What about creating a vibrant new green economy based on renewable energy? Let China build it, they shrug. How about constructing a bold, nationwide, job-creating network of high-speed trains? Spain built a great one and even France has one, but we're told it's too much for America. Our deteriorating and dangerous infrastructure? Better that we cut taxes for the super-rich and pray for God to take care of infrastructure.

These people are pathetic. And shameful. You can't call yourself a leader if you're too weak and too afraid to lead.

One of the worst examples of their inability to lead is the new Securities and Exchange Commission's crackdown on the egregious pay packages that the elites of Wall Street keep grabbing.

By a three-to-two vote, SEC commissioners socked the money-grubbing bankers with a new "say on pay" rule. Rather than let top executives lavish money on themselves unchecked, the new rule lets shareholders of those financial giants vote on extravagant salaries, bonuses and perks. That'll rein in the excess, right?

Probably not. You see, the SEC has long been a gentle regulator, never wanting to hear a Wall Streeter say "ouch." Thus, the say-on-pay rule has no bite. Shareholders can indeed have their say, but it's a non-binding vote! Bank big-shots can simply ignore it. Yet even this velvet harness was too rough for the two soft-on-greed Republican commissioners, Kathleen Casey and Troy Paredes. Both voted no, with Casey explaining that the new rules "are unduly restrictive and impose unnecessary burdens" on bankers.

Don't despair, though, for justice still might be served. The SEC has since approved another compensation crackdown, this time specifically targeting outrageous multimillion-dollar bonuses. For the first time, big banks will henceforth be compelled to restrain themselves. How? By filing detailed annual reports about the bonuses they pay. Ouch, that'll sting, won't it?

Again, though, even this tiny pinch was too harsh for the compassionate Republican members. Both sided with the poor bankers, wailing that requiring reports is a big-government intrusion into the private sector, overreaching the SEC's authority.

Real leaders aren't in Washington — they're fighting for us on Main Street. Luckily, a public interest group named Bankster USA is rallying grass-roots support to curb banker greed. To find our nation's real leaders and have your own say and push for real reform, contact

To find out more about Jim Hightower, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at



3 Comments | Post Comment
"Start with our leaders' willful abdication of the American dream. They've given up on the notion of producing a shared prosperity that creates a broad middle class."

Hightower is right about poor leadership. We have lots of politicians with not a single statesman among them. The solutions Hightower presents are a round up of the usual suspects; a new green economy, high-speed trains, infrastructure rebuild. None of these are proven winners and they are based upon the assumption that what is good for government is good for the country. That is the damaging theory we must disregard. What is the strength of our country, its government or its people? As we move closer to a soft tyranny leaders keep rehashing familiar terms: "going forward", "growing the economy", "transparency", and we see less and less results.

No one suggests putting citizens first and government programs way, way down the list, but it is obvious that as government power grows citizen prosperity decreases. Green, trains, and infrastructure are no longer outside the box, they have become cliches for maintaining the status quo. Look at the leadership in the 112th congress and you know none of these selfish prom kings give a darn about anything but themselves and the cookie jar they don't want to relinquish. If allowed to pick winners they will only pick themselves. That is their American Dream.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Tom
Wed Mar 16, 2011 7:59 AM
Jim Hightower continues his envious rants against capitalists like the good little socialist he is.
"They've given up on the notion of producing a shared prosperity that creates a broad middle class."
"What about creating a vibrant new green economy based on renewable energy?" Extremely inefficient and more costly than what we have now. Without subsidies (our tax money) these projects would not survive. Many are going bankrupt, even with government subsidies.
" How about constructing a bold, nationwide, job-creating network of high-speed trains?" The American public does not want trains, no matter how much the progressives (socialists) want it to be so.

Bankster ("Break Up the Banks") " We work to inform and assist grassroots citizen activism in promoting economic justice, public health, ecological sustainability and human rights." Sounds like the following to me.
Socialist Party USA We believe socialism and democracy are one and indivisible. The working class is in a key and central position to fight back against the ruling capitalist class and its power. The working class is the major force worldwide that can lead the way to a socialist future - to a real radical democracy from below. The Socialist Party fights for progressive changes compatible with a socialist future. We support militant working class struggles and electoral action, independent of the capitalist controlled two-party system, to present socialist alternatives .

Comment: #2
Posted by: David Henricks
Thu Mar 17, 2011 1:13 AM
What would the founders of this country have to say to the stewards of their dream today? They wanted individual liberty, prosperity and a government as so elegantly described by Abraham Lincoln as a nation, under God to have a “government of the people, by the people, for the people.”
Well that dream doesn't exist anymore. What we have is a Plutocracy government of the corporations, by the corporations, for the corporations, paid for by the serfs we have become.
Comment: #3
Posted by:
Thu Mar 17, 2011 8:18 AM
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