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 Thu, 02 Apr 2020 13:03:12 -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 a2c160766244d15fe1d9fec1ce572c12 America's Political Soul for 04/01/2020 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/03/20/americas-political-soul Wed, 01 Apr 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Making real democratic change is messy, inherently anti-establishment and fundamentally about choosing sides. Throughout our history, we have periodically needed large, disruptive political shake-ups to assure the survival and expansion of the democratic ideals that make America's social cohesion possible. Those shake-ups have not come from the comfortable center. Indeed, the abolition of slavery, women's suffrage, the rise of labor, the People's Party platform of 1892, trust-busting laws, the New Deal, civil rights protections, environmental safeguards, same-sex marriage, immigrant justice, et cetera have been won against the adamant opposition of centrists. </p> <p>Which brings us to the present progressive/centrist divide in the ongoing Democratic Party primaries. <span class="column--highlighted-text">How to choose sides? It's not as hard as it might seem if you ask two fundamental questions about the Big Change ideas being put forth by the progressive movement.</span> <p>Updated: Wed Apr 01, 2020</p> 1475127772d56dccc35bef20b236825d Pandemic Profiteers, Trump and Peter Cottontail for 03/25/2020 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/03/20/pandemic-profiteers-trump-and-peter-cottontail Wed, 25 Mar 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Wartime profiteering is an especially vile form of corporate greed, yet it has been as common in our country as war itself.</p> <p>Indeed, during the American Revolution, assorted corrupt merchants and traders lined their pockets by controlling the supply and jacking up the prices of various goods they sold to the Continental Army and the general public. Often, though, feisty colonials struck back at the gougers. In 1777, for example, when a Boston merchant was found to be hoarding imports of coffee and sugar to create an artificial shortage so he could charge the area's families exorbitant prices, a band of enraged Beantown women took matters into their own hands. They beat up the guy and confiscated his stock!<p>Updated: Wed Mar 25, 2020</p> d5704174d08bb421f3d0f2678ec69105 What Does Small Government Buy Us? for 03/18/2020 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/03/20/what-does-small-government-buy-us Wed, 18 Mar 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Suddenly, America is a nation of socialists, asking in dismay, "Where's the government?"</p> <p>These are not born-again Bernie Sanders activists but everyday people of all political stripes (including previously apolitical multitudes) who're now clamoring for big-government intervention in their lives. Nothing like a coronavirus pandemic to bring home the need that all of us have &#8212; both as individuals and as a society &#8212; for an adequately funded, fully functioning, competent government capable of serving all. Alas, as everyone can see in our present moment of critical national need, government today has been reduced to a rickety medicine show run by an inept, small-minded flimflammer peddling laissez-fairyland snake oil.<p>Updated: Thu Mar 19, 2020</p> 6fb4242d66c664fff7e0a1416545a411 How Weird Is the Democratic Party Establishment? for 03/11/2020 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/03/20/how-weird-is-the-democratic-party-establishment Wed, 11 Mar 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Just when you thought this political year couldn't get any weirder, along comes the entire Democratic Party establishment rushing en masse to the cliff's edge, hurling itself headfirst into the presidential contest. What has spurred this gaggle of political operatives, fat-cat donors and former presidential hopefuls is a collective impulse to unite behind the very worst candidate the party could possibly put up against President Donald Trump in November's election: Joe Biden.</p> <p>While practically everyone in the political swirl admits privately that the former vice president is pretty slow, awfully corporate and practically bent double with a bag full of very bad political positions he's taken during his decadeslong career as a Washington insider, his establishment cohorts are now resurrecting his dormant campaign by ecstatically proclaiming that he's a "winner."<p>Updated: Wed Mar 11, 2020</p> 7dbafa36748941f173b5e64c2757ab35 Trump Flees Afghanistan, but US Still There for 03/04/2020 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/03/20/trump-flees-afghanistan-but-us-still-there Wed, 04 Mar 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>It's over. Donald the Dealmaker says that he has ended America's long nightmare in Afghanistan, finally terminating 18-plus years of grinding war (the longest in U.S. history). After more than 2,400 Americans killed (another 20,000 wounded), more than 100,000 Afghan citizens killed (countless more maimed) and roughly $2 trillion wasted, Trump is crowing that he's negotiated an end to the ridiculously expensive and pointless military adventure.</p> <p>Only ... he hasn't. His flimsy four-page document, signed with a group of Taliban officials on Feb. 29, is not an end to hostilities and does not require disarmament or even a cease-fire. <span class="column--highlighted-text">It's just a cynical, face-saving device so Trump can withdraw a few troops and then claim in his reelection campaign that he's fulfilling his 2016 promise to end "endless wars." </span>This so-called Afghan peace accord merely asks Taliban warlords to agree to &#8212; get this &#8212; a <i> seven-day </i> "reduction in violence." There's not even a clear statement on what constitutes a reduction or violence, much less any agreement on steps toward achieving real peace.<p>Updated: Wed Mar 04, 2020</p> 50aa5c8955b9442b042eda99c322e7c9 The Amazing Fall of Donald Trump's Wall for 02/19/2020 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/02/20/the-amazing-fall-of-donald-trumps-wall Wed, 19 Feb 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Big, high walls can be troublesome. Ask Humpty Dumpty. Or consider the Canaanite city of Jericho: According to a Biblical tale, its walls came tumbling down when Joshua and the Israelites encircled it and blew their horns.</p> <p>However, for a real-life, epic story about wall troubles, ponder the trials and tribulations of our very own president. He trumpets that he is the most bodacious barrier builder of all, yet he can't seem to get his one "big, beautiful wall" funded or even taken seriously, much less built. Throughout his presidency, Donald Trump has continuously stamped his tiny feet and demanded that Congress shell out more than 10 billion of our taxpayers' dollars to erect a monster of a wall across some 2,000 miles of the U.S. border with Mexico. Like a flimflaming snake-oil peddler, he rants that his magnificent edifice would magically keep "aliens," "rapists," "murderers," "terrorists," "drugs" and "cartels" from entering the U.S. from the south. But even when his own party controlled both houses of Congress, the presidency and the courts, his grand scheme went unloved, unfunded and unbuilt.<p>Updated: Wed Feb 19, 2020</p> a3c366c61578186d9bed41e9f7822aae Health Care for People ... or for Corporate Profits? for 02/12/2020 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/02/20/health-care-for-people-or-for-corporate-profits Wed, 12 Feb 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>When grassroots groups rise up against the corporate establishment trying to win some specific progressive change for the common good, the odds against them can seem daunting. As an old saying puts it: Where there's a will ... there are 1,000 won'ts.</p> <p>Those won'ts tend to be moneyed powers making a killing from the status quo, so they're dead set against any change. Such has certainly been the case in the decadeslong political struggle to ensure that every man, woman and child in our country gets decent health care as a human right. Today, even though we Americans pay by far the highest price for health care, most people are denied that right by our country's profiteering, corporate-run medical industry, which treats care as a privileged commodity.<p>Updated: Wed Feb 12, 2020</p> d4daa5582a258516ec599ab2a8eea426 Democrats Need to Choose Between the Progressives and the Centrists for 02/05/2020 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/02/20/democrats-need-to-choose-between-the-progressives-and-the-centrists Wed, 05 Feb 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>With dozens of Democratic candidates having entered the presidential race (some dropping out before you were aware they'd dropped in), with the main contenders herded into seven (and counting) televised debates stretching back to June, and with swarms of reporters and pundits descending on the tiniest blip in polls and on every candidate's minor miscues, this campaign already feels never-ending. But at long last, we're beginning what matters: voting!</p> <p>This year, in addition to our decisions about candidates &#8212; and even though it's not explicitly on the ballot &#8212; we voters will be making a fundamental decision about the egalitarian future of our society. The question we face is whether we will continue the same-old, same-old politics of enriching and empowering the few at the expense of the rest of us, or whether we will pivot to implement the transformative structural changes being pushed by Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and The Squad, and other progressive Democrats.<p>Updated: Wed Feb 05, 2020</p> 649e0e106471c57fda1846b199318950 Change Is Coming for 01/29/2020 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/01/20/change-is-coming Wed, 29 Jan 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>As we hurtle into the 2020s, the future of our food economy (and food itself) remains a fiercely contested competition between diametrically opposed visions: a negative pole consisting of the concentrated forces of corporate agriBusiness, which view the dinner plate strictly in terms of their own profit margins, and a positive polarity of family farmers, consumers, food artisans, environmentalists and other grassroots advocates of agriCulture, who envision our food future from the ethical perspective of sustainability and democratic control.</p> <p>Of course, in this Time of Trump, the corporate interests rule national policy. If there ever was any doubt about which vision the Trumpeteers would push, it was erased by the little-known fellow he appointed to head the Department of Agriculture: Sonny Perdue of Georgia. Hailing from the No. 1 peanut-producing state in the country, Sonny has proven to be the biggest goober of all. As chief of the agency created by former President Abraham Lincoln specifically to assist America's small farmers and rural communities, Perdue has been AWOL, blithely reclining in his ornate Washington office while farm prices have continued to plummet, bankruptcies have soared and farmer suicides have surged.<p>Updated: Wed Jan 29, 2020</p> 568f614fa59d942a143780fa3d03dacb How Do the Rich Become Uber-Rich? for 01/22/2020 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/01/20/how-do-the-rich-become-uber-rich Wed, 22 Jan 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>As Ray Charles wailed in a song of true-life blues, "(T)hem that's got are them that gets/ And I ain't got nothin' yet."</p> <p>While the workaday majority of Americans continue to be mired in our low-wage economy, the precious few at the tippy top soared out of sight in 2019. They started the year wallowing in wealth &#8212; and the more they had, the more they got. As tracked by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, by year's end, the 500 richest people saw their total haul jump by 25 percent, with $1.2 trillion added to their collective net worth! Indeed, the wealth of the wealthiest is growing so large so fast that a new category of ultra-richness has been coined: "centibillionaires," those who have amassed more than $100 billion.<p>Updated: Wed Jan 22, 2020</p> b95427f76f3e5ac1b3828d38d0c79ebe Doing the Tax-Dodge Tap Dance for 01/15/2020 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/01/20/doing-the-tax-dodge-tap-dance Wed, 15 Jan 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Sen. Russell Long, the powerful Senate Finance Committee chair from 1966 to 1981 from the great state of Louisiana, liked to recite a little jingle highlighting the thorny political process of tax reform: "Don't tax you. Don't tax me. Tax that man behind the tree."</p> <p>Yes, let's do just that! Today, our nominee for "that man behind the tree" is the superrich &#8212; the 0.1%. Over the past 40 years or so, these plutocratic elites have used their political clout to create a radical level of wealth inequality that is tearing our country apart. The gap has become a chasm, separating the lavish fortunes of a privileged few from the well-being of the many. Currently, this small fraction of our country now owns the same amount of wealth as the bottom 90% of our country &#8212; a statistic that has not been seen in our country since prior to World War II. This wealth gap is antithetical to our people's democratic ideals, fundamentally unjust and socially destructive &#8212; in a word, un-American.</p> <p>In large part, the fortunate few have amassed and expanded their vast fortunes by hiding in the forest of tax policies that let them avoid paying their fair share. Of course, tax dodging is complicated, requiring sophisticated techniques and tricky maneuvers perpetrated by a large but secretive industry of pricy tax lawyers, lobbyists, wealth managers and other fixers to exploit special exemptions, convoluted loopholes and arcane breaks. This avoidance industry also provides uberrich clients with a wide selection of underground channels ranging from exotic offshore tax shelters to the ultimate dodge: renouncing U.S. citizenship.<p>Updated: Wed Jan 15, 2020</p> 8af18c4c09d36541155b5ee73ef750e5 What's the Charitable Thing to Do About Inequality? for 01/08/2020 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/01/20/whats-the-charitable-thing-to-do-about-inequality Wed, 08 Jan 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Our society has coined expressions like "philanthropist" and "season of giving" to encourage and hail people's charitable spirit.</p> <p>Look on the flip side of those shiny coins of generosity, however, and you'll find that they're made of a base substance of societal selfishness. After all, the need for charity only exists because we're tolerating intentional injustices and widespread inequality created by power elites.<p>Updated: Wed Jan 08, 2020</p> e68fe6d002610f007fadd24d8cb9ab4a What If You Were to Own Your Own Power Company? for 01/01/2020 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/12/19/what-if-you-were-to-own-your-own-power-company Wed, 01 Jan 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p>About 40 years ago, a right-wing codger named Eddie Chiles became a momentary political celebrity in my state by buying airtime on hundreds of radio stations to broadcast his daily political rants. Having made a fortune in the Texas oil fields, he pitched himself as a rags-to-riches, self-made success story. "I'm Mad Eddie," as he was known, repeatedly proclaimed that he was "mad" about big government &#8212; particularly federal programs that taxed him to help poor people, who should help themselves by becoming oil entrepreneurs like him. It's simple, he instructed in the tagline to his tirades: "If you don't own an oil well, get one."</p> <p>Well, maybe you can't afford an oil well, but what if you could own something even bigger &#8212; an entire electric utility? What if you were to control an energy business that's also an economic development engine and a grassroots force for advancing social justice? You wouldn't own it all by yourself, but you would indeed be a full-fledged owner, with a voice on everything from hiring to setting rates, from green energy to community investment.</p> <p>This empowering populist possibility has quietly existed for millions of Americans since 1937, when then-President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal helped people create a vast network of member-owned and member-run rural electric cooperatives, or RECs. While the barons of corporate-owned utilities serviced densely populated, easy-to-wire cities, they ignored rural areas as unprofitable, leaving families, businesses, schools and communities literally in the dark. Co-op ownership offered a bridge across this rural gap in our country's vital infrastructure &#8212; and the people rushed to cross it. Before the New Deal, some 90% of farm families had no electricity. By 1953, just 16 years later, more than 90% of them were wired, opening rural America to a world of new economic, social and cultural opportunities.<p>Updated: Wed Jan 01, 2020</p> 0b2c9103d7a4708efbbb6d1404fe4c2a Special Gifts for Special People for 12/25/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/12/19/special-gifts-for-special-people-c2d2c Wed, 25 Dec 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p><span style="background-color: initial;">Ho-ho-ho. Wait till you hear about the gifts I gave to some of America's power elites for Christmas.</span><br></p> <p>To each of our Congress critters I sent my fondest wish that from now on, they receive the exact same income, health care and pension that we average citizens get. If they receive only the American average, it might make them a bit more humble &#8212; and less cavalier about ignoring the needs of regular folks.<p>Updated: Wed Dec 25, 2019</p> d4e4b74e664af70ef30c02edd6baf576 Can 'Powerless Nobodies' Fight the Corporate Powers? for 12/18/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/12/19/can-powerless-nobodies-fight-the-corporate-powers Wed, 18 Dec 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p>BY JIM HIGHTOWER</p> <p>RELEASE: WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2019</p> <p><p>Updated: Thu Dec 19, 2019</p> dd7ce827984448668610e525838e4e0b 'Tax the Rich' Is No Longer Just a Political Slogan for 12/11/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/12/19/tax-the-rich-is-no-longer-just-a-political-slogan Wed, 11 Dec 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>There's nothing inevitable about inequality. It's an injustice that the moneyed powers and their political hirelings have chosen. We the People can choose a brighter path, one that bends toward justice, starting with a wealth tax such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren's plan to apply a 2% per annum wealth tax only to net worth over $50 million and another 1% to households worth more than a billion bucks.</p> <p>But how can we best the billionaires who buy the political clout to push through laws that the great majority opposes (such as 2017's Donald Trump-Mitch McConnell trillion-dollar tax giveaway to the rich) and best their brawny political blockers? Not by going around them but by pushing right through them.<p>Updated: Wed Dec 11, 2019</p> 67a59019034d2866517d14639ec6fb57 What's Scaring the Bejeezus out of Billionaires? for 12/04/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/12/19/whats-scaring-the-bejeezus-out-of-billionaires Wed, 04 Dec 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>There's a new political army on the march in America, moving forcibly into the 2020 presidential campaign. Tromp, tromp, tromp they come &#8212; it's the Billionaire Brigade!</p> <p>It's actually a very small army &#8212; only 749 Americans rank as billionaires &#8212; but they have lots of firepower. Collectively, they've amassed some $4 trillion in personal wealth, and they now wield the financial and political clout to grab nearly all of the new wealth that our economy creates. Understandably, their extreme avarice and the inequality they've created have spurred populist outrage among the vast majority of workaday Americans who're being stiffed by plutocratic elites. <p>Updated: Wed Dec 04, 2019</p> 510ab8d5ede819d81192b45057bcd7dd Which Food Future Will You Choose? for 11/27/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/11/19/which-food-future-will-you-choose Wed, 27 Nov 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>It's time to talk turkey!</p> <p>No, not the Butterball sitting in the Oval Office. I'm talking about the real thing, the big bird, 46 million of which we Americans will devour on this Thanksgiving Day.<p>Updated: Wed Nov 27, 2019</p> 2b105b801ca396bf23e5ddf02a3d788d How Trump's Poverty Subsidy Enriches the Rich for 11/21/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/11/19/how-trumps-poverty-subsidy-enriches-the-rich Thu, 21 Nov 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>Years ago, a Texas legislator who was occasionally known to take lobbyists' cash in exchange for a vote, explained his ethical framework as opportunistic: "I seen my chances, and I took 'em."</p> <p>Likewise, such hustlers as Dan Gilbert (the billionaire founder of Quicken Loans), Michael Milken (the disgraced Wall Street finagler), Stephen Ross (a Florida real estate magnate and owner of the Miami Dolphins), and Jeff Vinik (a Tampa developer of luxury properties) have seen opportunistic chances in Donald Trump's program of Opportunity Zone tax breaks &#8212; and grabbed them. The new tax law was trumpeted as a channel for funneling new investments into poor communities. But the billionaires &#8212; all of whom happen to be Trump's buddies &#8212; jumped on it like chickens on a cricket. <p>Updated: Thu Nov 21, 2019</p> 3666c323445992d4834b0ac8e7028188 The Wealth Monopoly for 11/13/2019 https://www.creators.com/read/jim-hightower/11/19/the-wealth-monopoly Wed, 13 Nov 2019 00:00:00 -0800 <p></p><p>I should start this homily on inequality by distinguishing income from wealth. Income is your annual wages or salary, as well as your earnings from a business, pension or government benefits such as Social Security, etc.</p> <p>As the average U.S. worker's real wages have stagnated for more than a decade, income disparity has become enormous. The bottom 90% of us average $30,000 a year, while the top 0.01% and 0.001% (about 1,400 taxpayers) rake in average annual incomes of $35.1 million and $152 million, respectively.<p>Updated: Wed Nov 13, 2019</p>