Jim Hightower

Defend Yourself!

From writing our wills to defending ourselves in court, we Americans can tend to our own legal business without the assistance of attorneys if we choose to – and these days, with the price of attorneys ranging from $50 an hour on the cheap side to $1,000 an hour for the Cadillac set, a majority of people are no longer able to afford a lawyer.

This is why a whole line of how-to-be-your-own-lawyer books have taken root during the past couple of decades. Need to draw up a lease, file a sexual harassment complaint, write an employment contract, handle the sale of your house, fight a speeding ticket? No need to shell out big bucks to have an attorney shuffle the papers for you, when for less than thirty dollars, you can get a self-help book – complete with the basic papers you’ll need to submit – for each of these specific legal actions. And, there are now computer software programs that walk you through the process, allowing you to be your own “cyberlawyer.”

But – Holy Paul Revere – here comes the legal establishment! In Dallas, a committee of powerhouse attorneys sued Quicken Family Lawyer, a self-help software firm, and this same committee is “investigating” Nolo Press/Folk Law, a publisher of self-help lawyering books. In both cases, the establishment is charging that these legal tools are so helpful that they amount to the “unauthorized practice of law,” and the big shot lawyers want the tools banned. Sadly, a federal judge recently sided with the establishment, ruling that the Quicken software is illegal.

Aside from the obvious issue of lawyer greed raising its ugly head here, this is an assault on our constitutional right to represent ourselves in America’s legal system. Worse, they are using book-banning as a means of denying us that right. To follow this important case, and to get more information about this constitutional issue, go to the Nolo Press Web site: www.nolo.com.

SUBSIDIZED SUPER-BUGS

For us human types, the end of the world will not come with a bang … nor with a whimper … but with a giggle – assuming that bacteria know how to giggle.

What will set these microscopic bugs off on a giggle-spasm is the absolute, bone-deep stupidity of us humans letting industrialized agriculture make us so fatally vulnerable to bacteria. In these modern times, we have devised an arsenal of antibiotics to fight off bacteria – everything from penicillin to the latest class of repellents, called flouroquinolones. If you get a bacterial infection, your doctor has this line of medical defense to help you – and maybe save your life.

Except that the bacteria are suddenly developing a powerful resistance to our arsenal of antibiotics. Why is this? Because of chickens. More specifically, it’s because of such industrialized chicken processors as Tyson, as well as other meat purveyors. These giants – with the approval of so-called government regulators – have been using antibiotics as growth stimulants to speed the process of fattening their animals (and their profits). Scientists don’t know why these drugs promote growth, but they do know they promote something else: antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

By routinely feeding antibiotics to chickens, the weak bacteria are killed, but the strong ones survive, multiply, and become drug-resistant superbugs in these chickens. When people get sick from eating the chicken, their doctors reach for such antibiotics as flouroquinolones to zap the bugs – but, alas, the bugs are now immune to flouroquinolones … and the patient is dead.

We’re literally letting Tyson and other profiteers kill us – almost half of the antibiotics produced in America are used by them to fatten chickens and other animals, and a third of all antibiotics fed to these animals are supposed to treat sick people.

No antibiotic used to treat people should be given to the likes of Tyson to fatten chickens and profits.

HOLD THE PHONES!

Boy, there’s just nothing like getting out to the great outdoors!

The majesty of the Grand Canyon, for example, puts the hubbub of our harried lives into perspective. Out there, you can be in touch with the eons, or with your inner self, or … with your cell phone?

Yes! CellularONE Group – a joint venture of AT&T, Southwestern Bell, and Vanguard Systems – has demanded that our National Park Service allow it to build a forty-three-foot cellular phone tower at Hopi Point on the south rim of the Grand Canyon. CellularONE executives say they need a tower there so drivers can make use of their mobile telephones.

Hey – who cares if a handful of cell-phone freaks can’t yakety-yak while visiting this timeless natural wonder? As a Sierra Club representative put it: “Hang up the phone and hike! Get in touch with the Grand Canyon, not the office!”

Yes, but your hikers and lovers of solitude are not major campaign contributors and don’t have high-priced, Gucci-wearing lobbyists hiking up to Capitol Hill in Washington. They probably don’t know that Bill Clinton issued a Presidential Memorandum in 1995 mandating that federal properties, specifically including national parks, be made available “for the siting of mobile services antennas.” And if that’s not enough, Congress also wrote the cellular tower mandate into the Telecommunications Act of 1996. So, under the law, the Park Services has no choice but to consider the company’s demand.

This is the start of something awful. CellularONE already has petitioned to erect another tower in the Kaibab National Forest, and it can’t be long before this company and others decide that all of our public parks are their for-profit playthings.

How many of you want to go to a National Park to hear cell phones in the wild? Confront your Congress critters on this – write, call, or ask in person why Congress okayed this pollution of the people’s parks.

Jim Hightower’s radio talk show broadcasts daily from Austin, on over 100 stations nationwide. His book, There’s Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos is in paperback. Find him at www.jimhightower.com, or e-mail: [email protected]

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Published at 12:00 am CST
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