It’s Shopping Time!

Yes, these are tough economic times, but when the going gets tough, the tough get going … to Neiman Marcus.

Hoping to cut through the doom and gloom of today’s economy, the luxury retailer has issued its annual Christmas Book, offering beaucoup gift ideas that’ll undoubtedly wipe the glum right off your face.

You might choose the very shiny limited-edition 2009 BMW, for example. It’s listed in Neiman’s catalogue at $160,000. Or how about this? If you want to turn someone from gloomy to giddy, go with Neiman’s delightful stack of hit records! You get the top 100 records from each of the past 35 years-that’s 3,500 records for only $275,000.

Now here’s a selection no one would expect: a dozen thoroughbred racehorses! They’ll be stabled and trained at a top Kentucky horse farm, and you get it all for $10 million. That might seem a little pricey, what with Wall Street wobbling, but as the head of the stable put it, “What better time to have a little levity and fantasy?”

Now I’m sure there are cynics and spoilsports who’ll complain that flaunting luxury in hard times is smug and insensitive. But hold your thoroughbreds right there, because Neiman has already thought of that. In recognition of financial reality, the company is also sending out a special catalogue this year featuring gifts under $300. While Neiman’s wealthy shoppers are not affected by the economic turmoil of the day, the retailer notes that it also draws some “aspirational shoppers”-those with pretensions of wealth who’re looking for just a touch of luxury.

It’s such thoughtfulness that makes Neiman Marcus what it is.


When Barack Obama said, “I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody,” John McCain and his right-wing chorus threw a hissy fit. He’s a socialist, a Marxist, a “redistributionist” they screeched!

Obviously, they were more upset than the electorate was. After all, for the past three decades, Washington has been busily redistributing our wealth upward to the richest 1 percent of Americans. Using everything from tax giveaways to trade scams, they’ve shoved the economic gains that everyone helped produce up to those at the top.

Now, the top-heavy “tinkle-down” economy they created is crashing, bringing down the housing market, Wall Street banks, and a host of industries. So, yeah, let’s spread the wealth into the grassroots economy, so ordinary workaday folks can lift our country up.

One way to do this is with a massive, nationwide “Rebuild America” program, similar to what Obama has proposed, only bigger and bolder. Let’s enlist millions of Americans to repair our deteriorating roads, bridges, schools and parks, while also developing conservation programs, solar and wind power, plug-in hybrid cars, high-speed trains, and other essentials for a new green economy.

Yes, this will be costly, but unlike the gabillion-dollar giveaway to Wall Street, this is a sensible investment that’ll produce tangible results for every American and restore our nation’s economic strength. After all, money is like manure-it only works if you spread it around.


Once again, here comes the Monsanto Medicine Show! The corporate con artist is hawking yet another brand of pricey biotech snake oil, guaranteed to work miracles.

Monsanto promises that its latest high-tech hocus-pocus will allow farmers to grow crops without much water. “More crop per drop” is the PR slogan, and the corporation is exploiting public fears about global warming and food shortages as marketing leverage. The food manipulators in Monsanto’s labs claim to have added some powerful mystery genes to the DNA of corn, forcing the plant to reconfigure its make-up so it survives in a drought.

It’s a miracle plant, Monsanto barks, a drought-tolerant crop that’s just what those poor people of Africa need. So step right up and buy a ton of our magic corn seed!

Not so fast. What are these mystery genes? Monsanto won’t say. From what species of plant or animal did you take the genes? Trade secret, Monsanto says. If the pollen of this Frankencorn gets loose in nature, it can have unimaginable impacts on our food supply. What are you doing to prevent that? Trust us, says Monsanto. Why not just push for better water management practices, which is easier, more effective, less costly, and won’t endanger our health? We can’t profit from that, says Monsanto. Well what about labeling this corn? No, says Monsanto, because consumers won’t buy it if they know it’s been genetically altered.

Like other biotech “miracles,” this one amounts to a kernel of corporate greed suspended in unexamined dangers, coated with secrecy, and tainted with deceit.

For more information on Jim Hightower’s work-and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown-visit His latest book, with Susan DeMarco, is Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow.

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Published at 12:00 am CST