JIM HIGHTOWER Corporate Moochers . If hypocrisy was measured in drops of water, Washington would be an ocean! Check out our stalwarts in Congress, who’re up on their hind legs demanding an end to welfare. Republicans and conservative Democrats alike are absolute bulldogs when it comes to slashing federal spending on welfare moms and children. But wait a minute. Where are these bulldogs when it comes to cutting the much bigger pile of money Washington spends on welfare-dependent corporations? Whoamention corporate welfare, and our Congressional bulldogs turn into a bunch of meek, tail-wagging lapdogs. Yet these corporate moochers sponge up as much as $225 billion a yearfour times more than poor people. What is “corporate welfare?” Well, there’s the $110 million a year the Agriculture Department ladles out to subsidize food-company advertising in foreign countries. For example, there’s the half-amillion Campbell Soup got to advertise V-8 juice in Argentina and a cool million pet-food companies received to hawk Friskies and other brands to Japanese dogs. Sadly, some corporate leeches just fritter away their welfare checks on booze and parties. The big Pentagon contractor Martin-Marietta, for example, spent $7,000 of our money on a Christmas party; $263,000 for a Smokey Robinson concert; and $20,000 for golf balls. Pick a name from practically any U.S. industry drugs, oil, banks, tobacco, cars, you name itand chances are they’re standing in Uncle Sugar’s welfare line. But don’t hold your breath waiting on Republicans or Democrats to assail these rich and powerful, Gucci-wearing welfare recipients, because they give big campaign donations and take lawmakers on all-expensespaid junkets. Congress doesn’t want to bite the hand that feeds iteven when that hand keeps digging into the pocket of taxpayers. Dave’s Cigarettes Here’s a deeply philosophical question for you: How many legs does a dog have if you count his tail as a leg? Four: Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make 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. it one. So what do you call “Dave”the good ol’ boy in the yellow ’57 pick-up truck who’s suddenly running ads hawking “homemade cigarettes”? Answer? A hoax. Here’s part of the advertising pitch for Dave’s Tobacco Company: “Down in Concord, North Carolina, there’s a guy named Dave, an entrepreneur who believes in the value of homemade products and … of offering folks quality cigarettes at the right price.” Dave’s tagline for his smokes is: “If you don’t like ’em, I’ll eat ’em.” Cutebut the cute wears thin when you learn that there is no Dave. He and his tobacco company are the advertising creation of Philip Morris. Dave is another example of one of America’s biggest conglomerates trying to horn in on the growing market for, well, for non-conglomerate, locally crafted products. This is the same conglomerate that’s hyping Red Dog beer, trying to fool us beer drinkers into thinking Red Dog is one of the local microbreweries that are becoming so popularwhen, in fact, the stuff is made by Philip Morris’ subsidiary, Miller Beer. Like Red Dog, Dave’s Cigarettes don’t carry even a whisper of the Philip Morris name. Indeed, retailers are instructed to display Dave’s anywhere but next to Marlboro or other Philip Morris brands. The company warns that “Dave’s homegrown smokes don’t mix with the ‘corporate’ cigarettes.” Asked how consumers might feel to learn they’re being duped, a company official said: “I think people will see the whimsy [in it].” Great! In the world according to Philip Morris, “local beer” isn’t, “homemade cigarettes” aren’tand consumer deception is called “whimsy.” What a brave new world these global corporations are creating for us! Newt’s Faith in Charity One of the charming qualities of the new Republican leadership in Congress is its quaint yearning for the pasta goofy belief that everything would be great if we’d just take families back to the 1950s of Ozzie and Harriet, the government back to the preRoosevelt 1920sand take our society all the way back to the 19th-century moral strictures of Victorian England. Have you noticed? All of their “vision” seems to be in the rear-view mirror. One keystone of the “Back-to-the-Future” program they’re now trying to implement is the antiquated notion that “charity” is the answer to poverty. Deep-thinker Newt “The Newt” Gingrich himself has declared: “Private charities are more effective [than government social programs] and they are better for the people they help.” Problem is, while Newt and gang are whacking America’s safety net to shreds, saying “let charity take care of these people,” they forgot to ask the charities about it. So 127 of themfrom Church Women United to Girl Scouts USAhave written to Congress, saying: “Get Real!” They point out that charities can do “precious little to offset the huge cuts” Congress is planning. Start with the fact that a third of the money private charities get comes from the government. Plus, private donations to charity are going down, not up. For example, despite record corporate profits, corporate giving since 1989 has fallen by a billion dollars. Yet, at the same time, the need for charitable donations is skyrocketingthe number of people in poverty is up from 31 million five years ago to more than 40 million today. It’s not charity people need, it’s good jobs with good pay. But that means facing forwardand Newt and gang don’t seem to know what direction that is. This is Texas today. A state full of Sunbelt boosters, strident anti-unionists, oil and gas companies, nuclear weapons and power plants, political hucksters, underpaid workers and toxic wastes, to mention a few. BUT DO NOT DESPAIR! r oh , THE TEXAS it of u server TO SUBSCRIBE: Name Address City State Zip $32 enclosed for a one-year subscription. Bill me for $32. 307 West 7th, Austin, TX 78701 14 APRIL 7, 1995
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The Texas Rangers are tasked with investigating corruption and crimes by public officials. Those officials are rarely held accountable.