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JIM HIGHTOWER Graduation Day: No Place to Go Yogi Berra said, “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might get there.” Well, that’s exactly the dilemma facing so many of America’s fresh-faced highschool graduates. This month another three-quarter-of-a-million students got their diploma, sang “All Hail to Thee Our Alma Mater,” and turned to face the job market without a clue of where they’re going. Our countryand our nation’s leaders used to take pride in the fact that young folks willing to work hard could come out of high school and find a job that would pay a family wage and offer the possibility of a middle-class life. No more. Industry today is using impoverished, Third-World workers as a sledgehammer to tear down America’s job base and replace it with a new low-wage econ : omy. And Washington is behind them! Bill Clinton brags that his policies are creating nearly two million jobs a year! True. But they’re jobs that typically pay under eight bucks an hourthat’s $16,000 a yearwithout health coverage, without a real opportunity for promotion or any likelihood that the jobs will last. A new report in Texas ranks the “highgrowth occupations” through the year 2000. Top of the list? Janitors and maids. $4.20 an hour. Food preparation workers, security guards, receptionists…these are the jobs of the future out there. And it’s hard to land them. A fourth of last year’s high-school grads seeking jobs still have none. One reason is that 40 percent of people with college degrees can’t find work that requires their skills, so they’re competing for the same lousy jobs as high-school students. Yet our economy is generating more wealth than ever. For the first time since the New Deal, our economy is growing while employment for graduates is falling. Those at the top get the plums…young folks get the pits. As today’s leaders boast about creating a lean-and-mean economy, we should point out that they’re also creating a leanandmean America. Jim Hightower, a former Observer editor and Texas agriculture commissioner, does daily radio commentary and a weekend call-in talk show on the ABC Radio Network Long Distance Oligopoly It’s been said that advertising is the science of arresting the human intelligencejust long enough to get money from it. Well, the Big Three long-distance telephone companies have been running a series of “arresting” ads to make us think they’re all engaged in hot competition to reduce our rates. AT&T, MCI and Sprint have saturated the airwaves with slick advertising spots saying: “Go with MCI because we’re cheaper than the others.” “Stick with AT&T because we’re saving you money.” “Sign with Sprint because we hold the line for you.” But while our attention has been drawn to this blizzard of competing ads, all three have been quietly teaming up in a most noncompetitive way to raise our rates. In the last six months, AT&T has raised its basic rates twiceonce by 4 percent, then by another 6 percent. Far from holding the line, within days, both MCI and Sprint popped up with virtually identical rate hikes. Now here they come again in June with still another increase. This is competition? No, this is gouging. While our rates have been rising quicker than a hog eats supper, their cost of doing business has been falling significantly. For example, “access charges” that long-distance companies pay to local phone companies have dropped from $29 billion in 1985 to $14 billion last year. So, what’s going on here? Get out your dictionary and look up: “Oligopoly.” Oligopoly is a two-dollar word describing an industry run by a very few Big Sellerslike AT&T, MCI and Sprint, who control more than 85 percent of the long-distance phone industry. When you have an oligopoly, the Sellers don’t have to compete on the price they charge us customersthey simply go along with one another, and get long very nicely at your and my expense. You don’t have to be in Who’s Who to know What’s What. The phone oligopoly is picking our pockets. Great Terrain Robbery American Barrick Resources is actually a Canadian mining corporation whose “resources” really are ours: public lands owned . by you, me and future generations of Americans. But a recent federal judge’s ruling allows American Barrick Resources to take title to 1,900 acres of our land near Elko, Nevada. Under the Mining Act of 1872that’s right, 1872mining companies can pay a pittance for public land, haul precious minerals out of it without paying dime in royalties to us taxpayers, and laugh at us all the way to the bank. This laysi originally was meant for small stakeholders, miners who looked like Gabby Hayesnot corporate golddiggers with Gucci shoes, Pucci suits and Swiss bank accounts. But here’s Barrick, paying Uncle Sucker $5 an acrea total of less than $10,000 to get a gold mine. Literally. Under this land is $10 billion worth of gold. They pay us $10,000; we give them $10 billion. Eureka! There’s gold in them thar laws! Congress has been fiddling with fixing this goldmine loophole for months. And a bill did pass the House last year requiring companies to pay an 8 percent royalty on the gold, silver, platinum and other wealth they take from federal lands. But, hey, these outfits like things just as they are, so industry lobbyists and a merry band of so-called “conservative” senators have bottled up the bill and bollixed reform. And while the bill is stalled, hundreds of mining corporations from all over the world are filing applications under the 1872 law to buy our public mining properties, just like Barrick did, for five bucks an acre. The Sierra Club has dubbed this boondoggle “The Great Terrain Robbery.” If you want to help stop the robbery, contact a reform group called the Mineral Policy Center at 202-887-1872. .4 egigliMIMIIII 46 Sea 1 Horse Inn 0,, Kitchenettes Cable TV ;it Heated Pool Y beside the Gulf o?/ . Mexico De r on Mustang Island / Available for private partics 1ilk Unique European _Charm f cQ Auno.spliere Iconomicil Spring anal Summer Rates” , Pets Welcome Pir te .10′ Port Aransas, TX 78373 ‘$ call for Reservations ,j o e ft. w w .1000.1,4i 4, 0146, i b le* %O. Vs wommo. a, 18 JULY 1, 1994