Jim Hightower

The DEA's Monument to Incompetence

Step right up, folks, for the thrill of a lifetime! You won’t believe what you’re gonna see inside this tent – it walks, it talks, it smokes, it snorts! It’s all part of the brand new museum built by the Drug Enforcement Agency. And the best part of attending this carnival sideshow of the “War on Drugs” is that you paid for it!

Yes, indeed, the Drug Czar’s Museum and Visitors Center, on the main floor of the D.E.A.’s national headquarters, is another example of our tax dollars at work – 350,000 of our dollars, to be exact.

And for $350,000 you get to see exhibits like: old photographs of junkies shooting up; a $35,000 chrome Harley-Davidson motorcycle taken from a Hell’s Angel now doing prison time for peddling drugs; and a photo gallery of rock stars, like Janis Joplin and Kurt Cobain, who were killed by heroin. Well … actually, Cobain killed himself with a shotgun blast to his head, but the D.E.A. says it was heroin related, so it counts. Funny, though, the museum doesn’t include photos of prominent non-musicians like Kitty Dukakis and Betty Ford – but, hey, they were addicted to legal drugs.

One of the ironies of the Drug Czar’s museum is that it highlights the awful fact that in 1900, one out of every 200 Americans was addicted to cocaine or heroin. The irony is that, today, three out of every 200 Americans is addicted. Hello. After a hundred years of anti-drug wars, after hundreds of billions of our tax dollars have been spent, after millions of arrests, after a whole bookshelf of liberty-infringing laws have been written – we have three times as much drug addiction as the bad old days.

The Drug Czar’s museum is a tribute to his own incompetence! Here’s an idea: let’s make his whole agency a museum. To help stop the D.E.A.’s multibillion-dollar waste, contact the Drug Reform Coordination Network: 202-293-8344.

GORE’S SWEATSHOP

Time for another trip into the Far, Far, Far-Out Frontiers of Free Enterprise.

Today, Spaceship Hightower takes you through a time warp to a factory where workers are made to do their jobs at a grueling pace on dangerous machinery, where they are exposed to a cancer-causing chemical, where their pay is based on a piece rate system that cuts their income so low they can’t meet basic family needs, where they’re threatened with job loss if they complain too loudly or even whisper the word “union.”

This sweatshop is not out of America’s distant past, nor is it in some sweatshop haven like China. It’s in the here and now of Beattyville, Kentucky – an impoverished town in the Appalachian foothills. Mother Jones magazine reports that some 650 workers toil in these deplorable sweatshop conditions, in a factory there that’s owned and run by Lion Apparel.

What makes this story even more grim is that our tax dollars subsidize Lion. The company is one of several with more than $800 million in Pentagon contracts to make uniforms for the military. The Pentagon even highlights Lion Apparel as a great success story, hailing it for providing uniforms at a major cost savings. Yes, indeedy, it’s amazing how a little sweatshop labor can cut your costs!

In turn, Vice President Al Gore – the Dudley Do-Right of cutting government spending – has given fifty-one cost-cutting awards to the Pentagon agency overseeing the Lion Apparel contract, apparently not noticing or caring that the lower costs come at the price of exploiting American workers. The Pentagon just shrugs its shoulders at the exploitation – a spokesman says, “We’re getting out of the Big Daddy thing. We have no right to tell our suppliers how to do their business.”

But don’t we taxpayers have a right to tell the Pentagon that we don’t want our tax dollars subsidizing corporations that use sweatshop labor?

BRADLEY OF WALL STREET

Wow, we’ve really got a treasure-trove of presidential choices for 2000, don’t we? From Gore and Bradley on the Democratic side to Bush, Dole, McCain, Forbes, and even Danbo Quayle on the Republican side.

So – which one out of this flock is going to challenge the globaloney of trade scams that are stealing middle-class jobs from America and exploiting impoverished workers in developing nations? Which one has a plan to restore prosperity to the family farm? Which one will finally say “no” to the flow of corporate money that’s totally corrupting our government? Which one will stand up to Wall Street in support of your street? Right. On the core issues affecting us, they’re all Wall Street birds of a feather.

Take Bill Bradley, the former New Jersey senator and basketball player, who is hailed as the alternative to Al Gore. Not only is he duller than a cud-chewing cow, but he’s more corporate than Al. So far, he’s raised more cash from Wall Street than has either Gore or the Republican front-runner, “Shrub” Bush. A political analyst for investors says that Bradley “is a Wall Street kind of Democrat. He’s not a wide-eyed liberal. He’s prudent … the kind of guy corporate executives feel comfortable around.” Oh, great, just what we need.

Among his big givers are J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Solomon Smith Barney, and Goldman Sachs. Bradley also leads in contributions from individuals who identify their occupations as “investor,” “stockbroker,” or “trader.” Why? As his media aide says, “His views on trade and the economy are well known and well regarded by those on Wall Street.”

One Wall Street Bradleyite who recently had a fund raiser for him with several C.E.O.s said, “I was a Republican until last week. The roster of people I recruited to the dinner were certainly people I associate with conservative thinking.”

This is Jim Hightower saying … How special! A Democrat who is loved by corporate Republicans. How about one who is loved by Democrats?

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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