Here’s some big news on the agricultural front—this year’s crop has reached the highest level ever, with an increase of 49 percent over last year’s production! Unfortunately, we’re not talking about American corn, but the opium crop in Afghanistan.
You remember Afghanistan, don’t you? That’s where Osama bin Laden was supposed to be headquartered, so our military pounded his Taliban backers shortly after 9/11. Even though the Bushites failed to get Osama either “dead or alive,” we were told that they had ousted the Taliban, put a new leader in place, and set that country on an inexorable path to democracy. But wait—Afghanistan has now turned as messy as Iraq. The Taliban is both resurgent and insurgent, Bush’s handpicked leader can’t travel outside of the capital of his own country, and the poppy fields—which sustain the Taliban with millions of drug trafficking dollars—are flourishing again. Despite the fact that poppy eradication has been a centerpiece of Bush’s Afghanistan policy, costing us taxpayers millions of dollars, there was a 59 percent hike in the acreage devoted to poppies this year. “You can say it’s out of control,” said the head of the UN office on drugs. Indeed, the Bushites themselves have expressed alarm that Afghanistan is in danger of becoming a full-fledged narcotics state.
After Bush & Company have spent $88.2 billion of our money and lost American lives there, the one clear result is not a shining monument to democracy and peace—but a country at war with itself, largely ruled by warlords and religious extremists, while currently supplying 92 percent of the world’s opium crop. The Bushites are incompetent losers. It’s time to stop blindly following bad leaders and demand basic competence in the global effort to stop terrorists.
MESSING WITH MEAT
You probably aren’t aware of it, but the big meat conglomerates are now charging meat prices for water. Up to 20 percent of the volume of your supermarket steak, pork chop, or drumstick is most likely H2O, plus a nice dose of salt and chemicals. These are being injected into the meats by industry, which even has a tasty-sounding term for the ripoff: “deep marination.” Cargill, Wal-Mart, and the other corporate purveyors of these adulterated meats say they are doing it as a favor to you, asserting that they are “flavoring” the meat! As a pork processor so insultingly put it: “This way we make sure consumers have a pleasurable eating experience, even if they do a poor job of cooking the meat.”
Well, first of all, meat is supposed to have its own flavor—what happened to that? Second of all, there’s nothing pleasurable about learning that watered-down meat can cost more than… well, meat. Third of all, at a time when America’s doctors are calling on food processors to cut the salt they’ve been adding to our meals, the “deep marination” process can quadruple the amount of salt in poultry, beef, and pork.
Yes, says the industry, but, it’s all up to the consumer, for we label the product with such language as “boneless chicken breast with up to 20 percent of flavoring solution of water, spices, sugar, and phosphates.” But New York Times reporter Marian Burros found that this labeling is either in teensie type—or doesn’t exist at all on the packages. Also, noting that today’s industrial meat doesn’t have much taste to begin with, Ms. Burros found the water-injected meats to be even more tasteless—unless you count the salt.
Visit your supermarket manager and demand that your meat not be watered, salted, and chemicalized. Seek out local markets or meat producers who don’t have any injection needles laying around… and offer real meat to you.
INTEL PICKS OUR POCKETS
This Congress has not merely practiced business-as-usual—but business-Far-More-Than-usual.Congressional leaders have rammed through a blizzard of subsidies, favors, and giveaways for their corporate benefactors, packaging these as benefits for the people. Two years ago Congress loudly ballyhooed a program that sounded like something from the New Deal: “The American Jobs Creation Act.” It was a multibillion-dollar tax giveaway to corporations that had been stashing their profits in tax havens so they could dodge paying their share of America’s upkeep. However, the corporate chieftains decided they needed to bring these profits home, so Congress gave them a one-year tax holiday to repatriate the money. Congress promised that this gross giveaway would be used to build new factories and create jobs for America. But the “jobs” bill did not actually require profiteers to create a single job in exchange for getting the tax windfall. So, rather than creating jobs, many corporate beneficiaries have been shedding them. The latest was Intel, the world’s largest chip maker. It hauled home $6.2 billion under the repatriation program and made a tax killing as a result of Congress’s amnesty. But, far from creating jobs, Intel announced that it was cutting some 10,000 from its workforce. It seems that its top executives have made a series of strategic blunders over the last decade, causing financial problems for Intel. Once again, working stiffs pay for management’s failures. The executives claimed that the firings were “essential to Intel becoming a more agile” company. I’d say Intel is already pretty agile. It picked taxpayers’ pockets while dumping 10 percent of its workers!
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.