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Jim Hightower
Jim Hightower
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More Perry Tales


It's bedtime, children, so put on your jammies, scootch under the covers, and I'll tell you another "Perry Tale."

Once again, the Texas-governor-who-wants-to-be-your-president is flitting hither, thither and yon — spreading little "Perry Tales" about his record. The bonny prince is trying to make it to the big White House in Washington. It's a bit of a strange quest, because he calls the Capital City "a seedy place," and he tells the commoners in the land that he hates — nay, deeply loathes! — the very government that he wants to head.

With his tea party hat carefully positioned atop his bounteous crop of perfectly coifed hair, Prince Rick warns the commoners that big government is bad, bad, bad — because it intrudes into their lives, forcing things like Social Security and Medicare on them.

Strangest of all, though, this prancing prince of privilege would not be where he is without the steady "intrusion" of big government into his life. From first grade through college, his education was paid for by local, state and federal taxpayers. He was even a cheerleader for the government-run college he attended. Also, as cotton farmers, he and his family were supported with tens of thousands of dollars in crop subsidies from the pockets of national taxpayers — a big government "intrusion" into his pocketbook that he wisely avoided condemning at the time.

Then, after a brief stint in the federal government's Air Force, the perfidious prince hit the mother lode of government largesse: political office. He's been hunkered down there for 27 years and counting. In addition to drawing more than a quarter-century's worth of monthly paychecks from Texas taxpayers, including $150,000 a year as governor, Prince Rick also receives full health coverage and a generous pension from the state.

Wait, there's more — he gets $10,000 a month to cover the rent on a luxury suburban home, a flock of personal aides and even a state-paid subscription to Food & Wine magazine.

So, children, the moral of this Perry Tale is to ignore the prince's hypocritical hype — and look at what he actually does. When he says he intends to make government "as inconsequential as possible," he means in your life, not his.

And now, Rick the Right-wing Sprite is sprinkling fresh fairy dust across the land in an effort to soften his earlier screed against America's Social Security program. During the past couple of years, in the heat of his lusty romance of the rowdy tea party crowd, Perry has wooed and wowed those who hate government by offering passionate denunciations of Social Security as "a Ponzi scheme," "a monstrous lie" and a "failure." The national retirement program, he thunders, violates the Constitution's "principles of federalism and limited government." His unequivocal message was: Kill it!

But — oops —- now in hot pursuit of the GOP presidential nomination, he's learned that even most Republicans wince at his macho wackiness on a social program they support and millions of them use. A CNN poll in August finds that 57 percent of Republicans want no major changes in Social Security. Why? Because, despite the Ponzi-scheme Perry Tale, it works.

So, the red-meat tea partier who had savaged the program has suddenly turned into a senior-hugger, offering a revised, gentler Perry Tale. In this one, he never, ever meant to abolish Social Security. Nay, Perry now says with a pixie twinkle, he only wants to stimulate "a legitimate conversation in this country about how to fix that program."

If you're not sure what "fix" means, ask your dog.

Perry might heed the blunt words of another Republican, who was twice-elected to the White House, Dwight Eisenhower: "Should any political party attempt to abolish Social Security ... you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can (abolish it). ... Their number is negligible, and they are stupid."

Until our next Perry Tale, goodnight children, and sweet dreams.

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



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