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Jim Hightower
Jim Hightower
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Sacrificing Teachers and Firefighters to Hoovernomics


America owes a debt of gratitude to such insightful Republican governors as Scott Walker of Wisconsin, John Kasich of Ohio, Rick Snyder of Michigan and Chris Christie of New Jersey.

Were it not for them, many Americans — myself included — would still be thinking that today's state budget messes are mainly the product of a national economic crash caused by the reckless greed of Wall Street banksters and rich speculators, as well as the abject failure by political leaders to tax their super-wealthy campaign contributors in order to meet the growing needs in education and other essentials. Luckily, the GOP guvs have set the record straight by explaining that the budget woes are the fault of teachers who have health coverage and firefighters who get pensions.

You see, it's these greedy public employees, pulling down $30,000 to $50,000 a year, who're sapping the economy and draining government treasuries — NOT billionaire casino dealers in Wall Street hedge funds who pay far lower tax rates than a firefighter and contribute far less to our nation than a teacher.

It has literally been incredible to hear these learned governors lecture us that fixing state budgets is simple: deregulate corporate power, cut taxes on the super-rich (again), fire tens of thousands of middle-class public employees, eliminate state programs even as the need for them rises and — just to boost the morale of teachers, firefighters and others — take away their democratic right to bargain collectively for workplace fairness.

Unfortunately for the governors, the public still doesn't get it. By overwhelming margins, the people oppose these gubernatorial assaults on workers, worker rights and America's middle-class dream. The governors can flim and flam, deceive and deflect, but they should remember that two things not long for this world are dogs that chase cars and politicians who lie to the people.

While lying to the people is a big problem for these guvs, they've got another fundamental flaw that needs fixing. They're Hooverites.

"Hoover" as in Herbert Hoover. It took him some 80 years, but he has now made what looks to be a full comeback to power. With the Great Depression spreading misery across America, President Hoover's prescription was to insist on reducing the size and spending of governments in order to boost "business confidence." Hoovernomics was a disaster for our country, and it was not good for him — he lost the presidency in 1932 to FDR.

So here we are in a new century with widespread relentless unemployment, mass underemployment, stagnant wages, a rapidly falling middle class and dimming economic prospects even for college-educated young Americans. In the face of this destabilizing, inegalitarian pressure on our economy and society, what remedy are America's corporate and political leaders demanding? Hoovernomics.

Not a single jobs bill is in the congressional hopper. Despite rhetoric about a new green economy, the White House has offered no job-creation plans at all. Instead, Washington's entire energy is going down the Hoover-hole of restoring business confidence. The deficit is the devil, cry the New Hooverites, as they wildly slash spending and try to kill federal programs like Head Start that lift people up.

Not to be outdone, a covey of extremist right-wing governors are demonizing, disempowering and firing thousands of public employees. These Little Hoovers maniacally shriek that with state revenues down and so many families out of work, the smart thing to do is to eliminate more jobs! They're shoving teachers, firefighters and other public employees out the door — thus shutting off the taxes that these employees pay to the state, while simultaneously increasing the number of out-of-work people looking for jobs.

If ignorance is bliss, they must be ecstatic. Hoovernomics is back — as goofy and destructive today as it was last century.

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



5 Comments | Post Comment
Okay Jim, let's take the $1.5 trillion deficit this year from all of the rich people.
Public Workers Rights? When you elect your management team, politicians are management when it comes to public employee unions, you get what you deserve.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Peter Galante
Wed Apr 6, 2011 5:37 AM
I almost always agree with your columns, Jim, and basically agree with this one. But in New York it is a little different, where many teachers make $80,000 and up and many administrators in schools make over $150,000. And the law says if a School Board does not negotiate a contract with the teachers' union the old contract stays in place, with its step increases. Salaries just keep going up and up and there seems to be no recourse to hold the line. That's the other side of the story in New York.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Charles Lamb
Wed Apr 6, 2011 6:19 AM
"... the abject failure by political leaders to tax their super-wealthy campaign contributors in order to meet the growing needs in education and other essentials."

Focus on that simple fact, Hightower, and I will be with you all the way. It's been a party on other people's money for so long that no government entity can survive without more other people's money. If you think School Boards and Public Works Departments don't waste at least a quarter of theri budgets on themselves you are naive or dishonest. It's easy to talk about $500.00 pentagon hammers but nobody mentions free cell phones and a myriad of other perks elected and beaurocratic officials lavish upon themselves. Ever listened to an official tell you that the perk money comes out of a "different pocket"? Have you noticed that when times get tough the "leaders" who got us into these messes demand more compensation to get us out? Find the real targets and we will all be behind you. Decide that Reps and Dems are neither your friends or your enemies and you will catch on.

Hooverites? Who's zoomin' who?

Comment: #3
Posted by: Tom
Thu Apr 7, 2011 9:48 AM
The USG is funded by taxing labor and transferring the wealth created by labor to the WEALTHY PREDATORY CAPITALIST WELFARE KINGS which turns the wealth of productive assets realized from labor into the non productive assets, paper shuffling, created by the WELFARE KINGS which is either not or minimally taxed. As labor costs are driven down the taxes on labor decline and the USG increasingly transfers wealth to the WELFARE KINGS using the national debt resulting from Federal deficit spending. This debt and interest is paid for by the taxes on labor while the WELFARE KINGS get the money. The rime example is the Pentagon protection racket scheme of; fund US, the Pentagon, for protection or else......!
Comment: #4
Posted by: kien lusk
Sun Apr 10, 2011 5:11 AM
GE makes $14billion and pays no taxes. There are oil men whose companies are making billions who say "We don't need the tax breaks." However we must balance the budgets on the backs of greedy teachers and public employees who have the audacity to believe that there families should have medical care and they a shot at a meager retirement. If they don't consent to being skinned they are starting “Class Warfare.”
Comment: #5
Posted by: Rick Ewing
Mon Apr 11, 2011 10:06 AM
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