Jim Hightower

Debate Abuse, Arbitration Rights & Sperm Sales

Two-Card Monte

Here we go again. The two-party duopoly of Republicans and Democrats are conspiring to control the market on political choice by keeping any third party voices out of this fall’s presidential debates. Something called the Commission on Presidential Debates has issued a decree that, in effect, will assure that only the Democrat and Republican sides will be presented to the voting public — no “outsider” ideas from the presidential nominees of the Green, Reform, Libertarian, Natural Law, Taxpayer’s or other legitimate parties will be allowed to intrude into these nationally televised debates. Instead, voters will get the same old Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber from the two candidates of the status quo.

The commission says that candidates will be allowed to debate only if polls show they have the support of 15 percent of voters. That might sound reasonable until you realize that underfunded third party candidates can only get high poll ratings if the public sees them in the kind of national forums that the debates offer. What if Coke and Pepsi said no other soft drink could get on the supermarket shelf unless it already had 15 percent of the market? Well, snaps the co-chair of the commission, “There have to be rules to the game.” First of all, this is not a “game” — it’s the election of the President of the United States. The purpose of the debates is for voters to be able to see their full range of choices; then we have an election so the people themselves can decide who are the “worthy” candidates. Second, if we’re going to have entry rules for the debates, the key question is: who makes the rules? Guess who co-chairs this Commission on Presidential Debates? Frank Fahrenkopf, the former head of the Republican Party, and Paul Kirk, former head of the Democratic Party. Its nine directors all are Democrats or Republicans — no third parties have a voice. You don’t have to be in Who’s Who to know What’s What — this is a stacked deck, stacked against real voter choice.

ARBITRARY ABUSE

It took the bloody revolution of 1776 to establish America’s treasured Bill of Rights, and the power elites have been conniving ever since to undermine each and every one of them. One that is under massive assault today is our Seventh Amendment right to go to court when we’ve been wronged, to present our case before a jury of our peers. This assault is not coming openly from armed oppressors, but from fine-print, corporate artists who surreptitiously are rewriting the rules and compelling us to surrender our right to a fair legal process.

This anti-democratic force likely includes your phone company, your employer, your credit card company, and other corporations that deal with you through consumer and employment agreements that you’ve probably never read, much less comprehended. Tucked into all that fine print, you’re likely to find a paragraph or so of gobbledygook under the arcane heading of “arbitration of disputes.” If you have a law degree and a magnifying glass, you might find out that such jumbles of jargon surgically remove your right to sue the corporation if you’ve been cheated, abused, or otherwise harmed by it.

In place of your constitutional right to trial, this fine print substitutes an “arbitration panel” to settle any dispute with you. Instead of a fair judicial process, this corporate arbitration amounts to a kangaroo court in which the corporation gets to choose the arbitrators, limit the evidence you can present, prevent you from cross-examining witnesses, deny you a written record of the proceedings, and prevent you from appealing the decision. Under these sneaky arbitration clauses, millions of Americans are unknowingly waiving their constitutional rights, allowing corporations to rule arbitrarily against us. To learn more about this assault on our basic freedoms, contact the Mandatory Arbitration Abuse Prevention Project at (202) 797-8600.

THOSE SPUNKY DANES

Let’s take another trip into the Far, Far, Far-Out Frontiers of Free Enterprise. Today, Spaceship Hightower takes you into a particularly murky sphere of global trade: sperm sales. That’s right — it seems that global trade in human sperm is hot and on the rise. No longer do sperm shoppers have to limit themselves to local or even national sperm banks, thanks largely to technological advances in sperm storage and transportation, and to world-wide marketing through the Internet. The Wall Street Journal reports that Denmark is rapidly becoming the King of Sperm, providing the life-giving squigglies to customers throughout the world.

Why Denmark? Quality control for one thing. They carefully screen their donors and test the quality of their product before shipping. Cryos International Sperm Bank, the largest in Denmark, offers three grades of the stuff, including one called “Extra,” which includes twice as many sperm as the standard grade and has the highest level of motility. Cryos now exports to twenty-five countries, including the U.S., and its head honcho is thinking big. “We think we can be the McDonald’s of sperm,” he exults. Maybe, but not without a fight from such U.S. competitors as Xytex of Augusta, Georgia, a sperm shop that is a bit pricier than Cryos but that goes an extra step. Xytex offers its clients a sort of know-your-donor program, including photos of the donor and of the children he’s produced, detailed biographical information on the donor, and even videos of some donors. Also, while the Danish sperm comes almost entirely from blond, blue-eyed Europeans, Xytex offers a full selection of ethnic backgrounds, including African Americans and Asian Americans. I guess you could even get a label saying “organically produced” and “Made in the U.S.A.”

Jim Hightower’s radio talk show broadcasts nationwide daily from Austin. His new book, If the Gods Had Meant Us to Vote, They Would Have Given Us Candidates, is now available from HarperCollins. 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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