Jim Hightower

Can You Hear Me Now?

All across our great country, there is a massive outpouring of heartfelt, outraged opposition to George W’s Iraq Attack. Tens of thousands of people have joined street rallies, candlelight vigils, marches on Congressional offices, protests at Bush fund-raisers, visits to Dick Cheney’s house, and other demonstrations—not only in DC, San Francisco, and other expected places, but also in places like Tulsa and New Smyrna, Phoenix and Dearborn, Roswell and Rochester. This rebellion includes grandmothers who’ve never protested, Gulf War and Vietnam vets, church folks, corporate executives—even Republicans.

In addition to street actions, Congress is deluged with letters, email, faxes, and phone calls against the pell mell rush into Iraq. Robert Byrd, the usually hawkish senator from West Virginia who led the opposition to Bush’s war resolution, says he got 20,000 calls and 50,000 emails in one week, urging him to keep up the fight. “They are my heroes,” he said of these grassroots rebels, adding that “the American people seem to have a better understanding of the Constitution than those who are elected to represent them.” Yet, if you watch television news and listen to the pundits, you’d think you’re alone in America if you don’t go along with Bush’s B.S. The mass media establishment has been a perpetual war drum. Even in Congress, 23 senators and 133 house members voted NO on the war resolution, including 90 percent of African-American members, 80 percent of Latinos, 60 percent of house Democrats, and 59 percent of the women in Congress.


Would you pay $720 for a jar of salad dressing? It’s from Brazil, but still …. How about buying tweezers from Japan at $4,896 each? These are not examples of infamous Pentagon purchases, but purchases that U.S.-based corporations routinely make from their own foreign subsidiaries. What we have here is a tax scam. It amounts to a massive money-laundering scheme in which corporations “buy” supplies and services from their overseas selves, grossly inflating the price they pay. These phony purchases move huge sums of corporate profits out of our country into the accounts of their foreign affiliates, thus escaping U.S. taxation. Scamming Uncle Sam has become very big business, according to two finance professors who’ve been tracking this annual rip off. Simon Pak and John Zdanowicz calculate that “transfer pricing,” as they term it, cost our public treasury $53 billion last year alone. Wow—$53 billion would pay for a lot of health care, bridge and road repairs, alternative energy research, and other crying needs that the politicians keep telling us there’s no money to finance! The transfers go two ways. In addition to buying from foreign subsidiaries, U.S. corporations also sell products to their overseas affiliates at ridiculously low prices, such as selling missile launchers to an Israeli subsidiary for $52 each. This corporate fraud is another of the joys of globalization. Multinational firms play global shell games yet the treasury department doesn’t even track their international tax-evading transactions. Senator Byron Dorgan is on the warpath against these corporate cheats. To back his effort, call 202-224-2551.


A couple of years ago, a lobbyist for developer interests complained, “We seem to be at a point now where the word ‘sprawl’ has been totally demonized.” Well, now comes a passel of lobbyists rallying around another fine term in the world of business: Predatory lending. This term applies to bankers—always on the watch for ways to grab another buck—who target lower-income folks and talk them into taking out loans to, say, refinance their homes—the only asset most of them have. The banking predators write the loans in such a way that the poor borrower cannot possibly pay them back—so the people lose their houses. What a sweet form of robbery, huh— only the robbers are the bankers. You might think that reputable bankers would find this abominable. But some have dispatched their armies of lobbyists to Washington, where their boy Bob Ney, (R-Ohio) has introduced a bill for them. The target of the bill is a host of state laws that are cropping up to protect consumers from these unscrupulous, predatory loans. Ney wants the federal government to pre-empt Georgia, New York, and other states that are passing “fair lending laws.” You thought George W. and the Rs were against the Big Bad Feds and wanted to give more power to the states? When it helps their corporate sponsors to have power diffused, then they’re for moving the actions to the states, but when it helps corporate interests to have power federalized, suddenly so-called conservatives like Ney are up on their hind legs decrying the messy “patchwork” of state laws and demanding for federal preemption of state authority. They’re not conservatives—they’re corporate whores. To fight them and the shame of predatory lending, contact the great grassroots fighter for consumers, ACORN: 1-877-55ACORN.

Jim Hightower is a speaker and author. To order his books or schedule him for a speech, visit www.jimhightower.com. To subscribe to his newsletter, the Hightower Lowdown, call toll-free 1-866-271-4900.

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Published at 12:00 am CST