Reassembling America's Democracy

Cowboy hat By Jim Hightower - Thu., 7/15/10
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On the Fourth of July, we celebrated Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, Madison and all the other great men who created our democracy, right?
Not exactly. The Founders did create the framework for a democratic republic, but they didn't create much democracy. Indeed, in America's first presidential election, only 4 percent of the people were even eligible to vote.
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The GOP's Genetic Link to Big Oil

Cowboy hat By Jim Hightower - Thu., 7/8/10
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If scientists were to compare the DNA of Republican congress-critters and of oil corporations, I'll bet they'd find that they match perfectly. After all, the two species have identical political instincts and seem to have a natural affinity for each other — so I'm pretty sure they sprang from the same genetic pool.
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The Fourth of July Is a Celebration of Agitation

Cowboy hat By Jim Hightower - Wed., 7/1/09
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Are you an agitator? You know, one of those people who won't leave well enough alone, who's always questioning authority and trying to stir things up.

If so, the Powers That Be detest you -- you ... you ... "agitator!" They spit the term out as a pejorative to brand anyone who dares to challenge the established order. "Oh," they scoff, "our people didn't mind living next to that toxic waste dump until those environmental agitators got them upset." Corporate chieftains routinely wail that "our workers were perfectly happy until those union agitators started messing with their minds."

Today's Perpetrators of Gas Pump Thievery

Cowboy hat By Jim Hightower - Wed., 6/24/09
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Like a Fourth of July crescendo of fireworks, our gasoline prices are rising higher and higher. While this is tough on consumers, we're assured by a covey of tongue-clucking industry analysts that nothing can be done about it, for it's simply the law of supply and demand in action — so suck it up, and pay up.

Pockets of Influence in Washington

Cowboy hat By Jim Hightower - Wed., 6/17/09
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What do shoplifters and members of Congress have in common? Tailor-made clothing.

Like a shoplifter's long coat, the suits of many lawmakers come with an astonishing array of inside pockets that hold surprising volumes of loot. We already know about various conduits that politicians have crafted to funnel cash into their election campaigns, but USA Today recently reported that our congressional stalwarts have also created a series of less-obvious pockets for stashing special-interest influence money.

Have You Driven a Han Lately?

Cowboy hat By Jim Hightower - Wed., 6/10/09
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If you want to be seen as a flag-flying, macho American, you've got to have the right ride -- and nothing says swaggering hedonism and outta-my-way arrogance quite like a Hummer.

Yes, it's a high-dollar, gas-guzzling symbol of excess, but hey, that's the point! As the founder of a Hummer support group once snarled, "Those who deface a Hummer in words or deed deface the American flag and what it stands for."

Stopping the Desecration of Mountaintop Removal

Cowboy hat By Jim Hightower - Wed., 6/3/09
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Obama spaketh, and it was good: "We have to find more environmentally sound ways of mining coal than simply blowing the tops off mountains," he proclaimed.

And, yea, in the mountains and down through all the valleys of the ancient land of Appalachia, hearts were filled with joy, for here was a prophet of hope who was signaling that a change was coming — at last, the endtime was at hand for the brutish coal-mining method called "mountaintop removal," which is an abomination.

Eliminating the threat of "Death by Pie"

Cowboy hat By Jim Hightower - Wed., 5/27/09
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Out in Arizona, an old tombstone bears an epitaph for a young gunslinger: "I was expecting this/But not so soon."

Gunslinging, of course, is a high-risk business. But today, some of us can expect to have the following marker on our graves: "Here lies a guy/Killed by a pot pie."

America's pot-pie threat lurks in an ingredient that today's producers of frozen foods don't list on their packages: salmonella. In just one salmonella outbreak in 2007, the Banquet brand of pies sickened an estimated 15,000 people in 41 states.

You Can Always Bank on the Greed of Wall Street Bankers

Cowboy hat By Jim Hightower - Wed., 5/20/09
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No doubt you're going to feel terrible about this. Top executives of Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street powerhouse, are in a pout about how they're being treated by you and me — i.e., the public.

Look Who's Begging for Regulation

Cowboy hat By Jim Hightower - Wed., 5/13/09
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"Regulate the health insurance giants," chanted the reformers.

"Stop denying coverage to sick people," they demanded. "Stop jacking up premiums," they cried. "Health coverage for all," they bellowed.

It was an impressive show that the health care reform movement put on last week at a hearing before the Senate finance committee. It was especially impressive because those doing the chanting, demanding, crying and bellowing were not aggrieved outsiders, but the ultimate insiders — the health insurance giants themselves!

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