Jim Hightower

Don't Look Down at Immigrants, Look Up

Here’s a modest suggestion for dealing with illegal immigration: Instead of everyone looking down at all those impoverished Mexicans coming here for jobs, why not start looking up—focusing on the posh executive suites of corporate America, which have saddled both U.S. and Mexican working families with corporate-written trade and labor policies that knock us all down? Let’s start with NAFTA. Remember that Bill Clinton, the GOP, and all the corporate lobbyists promised that this trade deal would bring prosperity to Mexican laborers—thus stopping the flow of illegal workers into the USA. Well, 12 years later, real wages in Mexico are lower than before NAFTA was imposed, 19 million more Mexicans have fallen into poverty, and about half of Mexico’s people are struggling to live on less than $5 a day. This NAFTA economy of a few fabulously-rich families and an impoverished working class was deliberately created by a cabal of arrogance between CEOs in our country, the ruling elites in Mexico, and the political puppets of both. Now, here they come again, fostering xenophobia, proposing an absurd and shameful wall along our shared border, and encouraging a new bracero program to turn low-wage Mexicans into a permanent flow of indentured workers for U.S. businesses.

Meanwhile, these same corporations and their political puppets have been busting wages here at home, offshoring middle-class jobs, canceling pensions and health care plans, waging war against labor unions, and shredding our social contract. To deal effectively with illegal immigration, we must renegotiate these corporate trade scams and restore our labor laws so they actually help the workaday majority of people, raising middle-class possibilities here and in Mexico. This problem is not being caused by powerless people, but by the most powerful. It’s time to look up… and look the power elites right in their crooked eye.


We all remember George W.’s fleeting moment of glory three years ago when he strutted aboard that aircraft carrier under a banner that shouted: “Mission Accomplished.” Well, three years, $300 billion, and 2,300 American deaths later, Bush’s “mission” is a quagmire. But he was not the only one gloating back then—right-wing media pundits, who had been enthusiastic long-distant cheerleaders of George’s adventure in Iraq, were also full of themselves. Before we let these geniuses side with Bush again to get us into a new war with Iran, let’s play back some of their insights from the early days of the Iraq war. “The war was the hard part,” beamed a gleeful Fred Barnes on Fox News. “And it gets easier. I mean, setting up a democracy is hard, but not as hard as winning a war.” MSNBC’s Chris Matthews razzed Howard Dean for being an anti-war candidate: “What’s he going to talk about a year from now, the fact that the war went too well and it’s over?” And here’s a keen observation from Fox News’ Dick Morris: “Over the next couple of weeks, when we find the chemical weapons this guy was amassing… I think that really means that the left is going to have to hang its head for three or four years.”

Of course, Bill “Blowhard” O’Reilly is a brilliant judge of war. “I will bet you the best dinner in the gaslight district of San Diego,” he bloviated, “that military action will not last more than a week.”

Let’s go back to Chris Matthews for the final word: “Americans love having a guy as president, a guy who has a little swagger… Women like a guy who’s president. Check it out. The women like this war. I think we like having a hero as our president. It’s simple.”

No. Bush is simple; war is hell.


It’s time to call 9-1-1 about an IRS proposal to change Section 7216 of the Internal Revenue Code. Whenever the Bushites revise regulations, you can bet those revisions do the exact opposite of what the regulatory title claims they do. On December 8, our friendly IRS quietly issued “Regulations to Safeguard Taxpayer Information,” cleverly lumping it in with a set of new rules that the agency labeled “not a significant regulatory action.” Fortunately, watchdog groups didn’t buy the ruse. When they actually read IRS’s proposed “safeguards,” they were startled to find that this regulation would authorize giants like H & R Block or any other tax preparer to sell the contents of your private tax-return to any corporation wanting to buy it! All your personal contact information—including your Social Security number—could be sold, as well as information about your income, employer, medical expenses, children, charitable donations, etc. Who’s pushing this scheme? A powerful lobby of data brokers such as Choicepoint, credit companies like MasterCard, and dozens of marketers who want to use your 1040 filing to target you for sales. In the shadows, of course, identity thieves lurk, eager to raid the computers of data firms and grab your tax return. The IRS head honcho says your data won’t be sold unless you sign a form authorizing your tax-preparer to do it. But this so-called “consent” can be shuffled in with the stack of forms you have to sign to complete your filing, or it can be reduced to fine-print, boiler-plate language that no one reads. Tax-return information should not be sold. Period. To help fight it, call 202-546-9707.

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