Hey-belly up to the bar, Bub, and put your money down-Sacramento is for sale, lock, stock, and underwear. Winning bidders get exclusive marketing rights and the imprimatur of official city approval-even if the corporate sponsors are polluters, make their products in sweatshops, and are known to rip off consumers.
This is Jim Hightower saying . . .The profiteers will take over your town next, if you don't stop them.
"City for Sale" by Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman. Focus on the Corporation: February 17, 1999.
Hi, "Crazy Jim" Hightower here, saying: Have I got a deal for you? Come on down to "Crazy Jim's" for the deal of a lifetime. It's all part of our [reverb] "1999 Pre-Election Presidential Candidate Sale-a-Thon!"
Shop til you drop here at our Presidential Showroom on the magic mile-we've got your Democrats and Republicans, new and used, ranging the whole gamut from social conservative to corporate conservative, or both! The general public won't be able to buy any of these beauties until the year 2000, but "Crazy Jim" gives YOU the chance to buy-in right now. Here's our souped-up Democratic, "GORE2000" model, for example. Or maybe you'd like something a little on the slower side, like the "Bushamatic SUV." Both the GORE2000 and the Bushamatic have been fully-tested and approved by a certified panel of Wall Street analysts. So we can guarantee that neither will cause any trouble for Wall Street.
Let me give you a rundown of some of these Presidential models, so you know who stands behind them. The aforementioned GORE2000 has been fully checked out by such Wall Street mechanics as Steve Rattner of the investment banking firm Lazard Freres, and Jon Corzine of Goldman Sachs. As a result, I can guarantee you that Gore is one Democrat who won't veer from the middle of the corporate road. And if you think that his Democratic challenger, Bill Bradley is likely to push him left, not to worry, because he's backed by such solid corporate agents as the CEOs of Chase Manhattan Bank, Sara Lee, Barnes & Noble, and Starbucks.
Likewise, the Bushamatic has the seal of approval from such major corporate lobbyists as Haley Barbour and Wayne Berman. It's always good to know that these Washington fixers stand 100-percent behind their product, isn't it?
This is "Crazy Jim" Hightower saying . . . If you want your vote to count, don't wait on the fools who'll cast their ballots in 2000-you can vote today by writing a big check. It's a great deal, b ecause candidates who don't get your money in 1999, won't have a chance in 2000. Think about it.
"Fund-raising race is also part of presidential primary" by Phil Kuntz. Wall Street Journal: March 11, 1999.
CHARITY BEGINS IN THE HOUSE
There's a new charity that I know so many of you are going to want to help.
This is not a charity to help impoverished war orphans in some faraway land, yet I know you're going to be touched in a way you never have been once you hear their plight. These are people who are having an awful hard time making ends meet these days. It's a group that's not had a payraise in more than . . . well, a year.
If you could only see them, as I have-their needy little faces not only would touch your hearts, but make you want to reach for your wallets and do all you can to stop their pain. They look up at you with their big, round, sad eyes and say: "COLA."
Not Coca Cola. C.O.L.A., as in Cost of Living Adjustment. This struggling group is the U.S. House of Representatives, and they're pleading for a cost-of-living increase in their pay-which, as you know, is now a pathetically low $136,700 a year.
Won't you help? The COLA that's presently on the table for them would provide about a $5,000 annual increase. No, it's not much, but every little bit helps when you're at that level. Plus, these people are working hard! This year alone, they are expected to put in four days a week for up to 40 weeks! Imagine if you had to do that . . . and for only $137,000 a year.
Luckily, the House leadership feels their pain and supports their $5,000 raise. Dennis Hastert, the new Republican leader, put it so eloquently when he said: "I am not crying crocodile tears, but they need to be able to have a life and provide for their families. They need to have a modest increase in their salary."
This is Jim Hightower asking . . . Don't you agree? Don't you want to help Dennis give a taxpayer's contribution of $5,000 each to our members of Congress? Call Speaker Hastert and tell him exactly how you feel about charity for the poor people in Congress. Operators are standing by: 202-225-0600.
"Majority in House Likely to Favor COLA" by Jim VandeHei. Roll Call: March 22, 1999.
"Hastert, Gephardt want COLA" by Jim VandeHei. Roll Call: March 15, 1999.
"Per diems in house may be good, but a vote on them isn't" by David Rosenbaum. New York Times: March 18, 1999.
"Diverse groups want Hastert, Gephardt to reject Congressional pay raise" by Gary Ruskin. Congressional Reform Briefings: March 15, 1999.
"Groups criticize plans for $25,000 pay and benefits hike for US House of Representatives" by Gary Ruskin. Congressional Briefings: March 17, 1999.
"Rep. Thomas urges tax-free per diem" by A.B. Stoddard. The Hill: March 17, 1999. "Court weighs the meaning of 'gratuity' by Linda Greenhouse. New York Times: March 22, 1999.
FORCE FEEDING BEEF TO EUROPE
What's the beef about European consumers wanting their burgers and steaks to be free of artificial growth hormones?
Believe it or not, Washington is putting us into another trade war that is even whackier than the banana battle that we've been having with the Europeans. In this meaty case, a handful of powerful beef processors and exporters like IBP and Cargill are in a deep pout. It seems European nations are saying "no thanks" to our beef exports when they contain doses of estrogen and other sex hormones. These companies routinely inject the hormones into the cattle to make them fatten-up in an unnatural hurry.
There is scientific evidence that these hormones injected into the cattle also stay in the steaks or burgers, and then go right into the children who eat them. Is it so irrational, then, that European consumers would not want such contaminated meat?
"Don't talk rationality," cry the exporters, "make them take our beefed-up beef!" The Clinton Administration is going along with this forced-marketing disaster, whining to the World Trade Organization that the Europeans are restraining free trade by wanting meat without hormones.
Hello? Aren't we supposed to be the nation of free enterprise, the can-do marketers to the world? Here's a crazy idea: If our millions of European customers want beef without the artificial bloat of sex hormones . . . how about we sell it to them? We have beaucoup clean beef in America. In fact, most of the cattle you see on the range as you drive America's highways have had no shots-it's only the corporate feedlots that force this growth-drug into the herds. So let's sell from the ranchers, the co-ops, and the independent feedlots of America who'll provide the product the customer wants-instead of trying to force-feed them something they don't want.
This is Jim Hightower saying . . . I tell ya, it's pathetic to see these phony and incompetent free enterprisers go running to Uncle Sam and the WTO to try to shove their contaminated products down the throats of our nation's customers.
"Imports face higher tariffs on beef tissue" by David Sanger. New York Times: March 23, 1999.
"US-EU lock horns over beef" by James Cox. USA Today: March 23, 1999.
"US lists EU Products that face duties if ban persists on hormone-treated beef" by John Simons. Wall Street Journal: March 23, 1999.