Jim Hightower

$hrub's Pioneer$


Shrub Bush, who wants to be your president, recently wowed the political pundits! Not with his grasp of any issues (he says he’s still studying them), not with his achievements as Governor of Texas (he continues to do little but run errands for his business cronies) – but for the fact that he raised a haybarn-full of campaign cash for his presidential ambitions.

In only a month’s worth of fund-raising, by the beginning of May the Republican frontrunner had sacked up $7.6 million without even holding an event or personally making any telephone calls. Bush’s spinmeisters hailed this huge haul as a phenomenal outpouring of love from “the people.” Bush himself said he was “humbled” by this grassroots show of support.

But what Humble George and his spinmeisters didn’t mention is that these were not crumpled-up ten-dollar bills he was getting. Indeed, more than 70 percent of the money came in checks of $1,000 or more. Nor was this bonanza just spontaneously sent to him. Instead, the money was aggressively solicited by about 200 corporate executives, lobbyists, developers, and bankers, who have signed up with Shrub to raise at least $100,000 each. That’s $20 million or more. Bush calls these corporate bagmen his “pioneers.”

Bush is putting together a campaign-finance structure that’s a pyramid of wealth. “The 200 pioneers” at the top have national financial networks of their own, including other corporate executives, their country-club pals, people who owe them favors, companies that do business with them, and so forth. These are people like Heinz Prechter, the Michigan honcho of American Sunroof Company. He previously raised a million-plus for Shrub’s dad, George the Elder, who subsequently rewarded Heinz by having him head a trade mission to Japan that – just coincidentally – landed Heinz a lucrative business deal.

Shrub’s “pioneers” are nothing but shameless corporate opportunists who know that if they funnel big bucks to him now, he’ll funnel even bigger bucks to them if he makes it to the White House.


A church bulletin proclaimed: “The eighth graders will be presenting Shakespeare’s Hamlet in the church basement. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.” Likewise, all citizens are invited to another tragedy: “The Return of the S&L Bailout.”

A federal judge recently ruled that taxpayers must pony up as much as $50 billion more to the savings and loan owners, including such billionaires as speculator Robert Bass of Texas, the Pritzkers of Chicago, and hostile takeover artist Ron Perelman of New York. These people need taxpayers’ dollars like Oscar Mayer needs more baloney, but here they come, grabbing for your wallet. Under the original bailout, deep pockets like the Basses, Pritzkers, and Perelmans bought defunct S&Ls at firesale prices, paying a dime or less on the dollar, then were allowed to shove any bad loans their S&Ls had onto the backs of taxpayers. That cost us $165 billion. They also got another sweetheart accounting break, essentially being allowed to count the S&Ls’ liabilities as assets. When it became clear that this ludicrous loophole would end up costing us taxpayers billions more, the Bush Administration got Congress to close it in 1989.

Hence, the present court case. The rich S&L scavengers went whining to court that this was a “breach of contract” and that they should be paid for any profits they “might have” ripped off between ’89 and today if only their loophole had stayed in place.

Amazingly, this judge sided with the scavengers against us taxpayers, in a case involving a California S&L. The other scavengers are in line to get theirs, too, including David Paul, who filed his lawsuit from a South Carolina prison camp, where he’s doing eleven years for racketeering. His S&L was the one that had gold-plated toilet pipes and a $29-million art collection – all financed by us taxpayers.

And now we’re to pay him more? Get a rope.


You don’t have to be in Who’s Who to know What’s What. What’s happening today is that an American corporate elite, backed by its puppets in Washington, is running roughshod over the great majority of America’s people. These privileged few are the ones downsizing and outsourcing our middle-class jobs, turning our heath care system into H.M.O. Hell, poisoning our water and contaminating our food, crushing family farms and small businesses, and buying our government wholesale. Why should we, a sovereign people in a democratic system, allow the strictly selfish interests of corporate executives and investors to rule us?

We shouldn’t, of course, and that’s why the steps being taken by the good folks and patriotic Americans in Arcata, California, are so important. They are the Paul Reveres of the new American revolution against the tyranny of global corporate rule.

The shot heard ’round the world in this case was not a bullet, but a ballot. Last year, 58 percent of Arcata’s voters said “yes” to Measure F – a local ballot initiative that launched a process of re-establishing citizen control over corporate whim. The first step is simply to hold a dialogue, including two town-hall meetings, on this revolutionary question: “Can we have democracy when large corporations wield so much power and wealth under law?” The first meeting was set in a place for 400 people, and 600 showed up, staying way past the allotted time, with practically everyone answering “No” to that question. After the town discussions are completed in May, the City of Arcata will begin to establish policies and programs to ensure democratic control over corporate actions within their city.

This is a small step, of course, but hey – that’s how all revolutions are sparked. Already, Olympia, Washington, is considering the same initiative, and other cities are showing interest. To get information on how your town can join the Arcata Rebellion, call Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County: (707) 822-2242.

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].