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JIM HIGHTOWER ME REAL WELFARE CROOKS We all have heard a lot about last year’s “Million Man March” on Washington, but we hear almost nothing about the daily “Millionaires’ March” on our nation’s capitol. There they go, though, “Puccis on Parade”millionaires and their lobbyists marching into our lawmakers’ offices bearing briefcases full of campaign contributions, and coming out with billions of dollars worth of federal subsidies. Consider the advertising subsidy. For example, are there some ads that irritate the hell out of you? Well get ready to be doubly irritated. Because companies now have a loophole that lets them deduct from their taxes every dime of the one hundred and sixty billion dollars they spend every year on advertising, meaning you subsidize those irritating ads. Does Uncle Sam let you deduct the price of a classified when you sell a car or have a garage sale? Get real, sucker. What about the highways in your area? Do they need repair? You should be a timber company then. Last year, giants like Weyerheuser got one hundred forty million dollars worth of private roads built for them by taxpayers in our national forests, so they could loot more trees from our land. Now here’s a little break that was designed for you. Do you deduct the mortgage interest payments on your home from your taxes? I do. For most of us, the deduction is under one thousand dollars a year. But the big winners are the super-rich, who don’t need any help buying homes. Need it or not, though, their lobbyists perverted this law that was designed for the middleclass so they can get a million-dollar tax deduction for each and every house they own. Isn’t it time for Wealth-fare Reform? Contact a group called Share the Wealth: ELECTION POLITICS AND WORKERS’ RIGHTS What a presidential year this is shaping up to be. The Republicans are sending in “Beltway Bob” Dolea thirty-five-year politi Jim Hightower is a former Observer editor and Texas Agriculture Commissioner. His daily radio commentaries are broadcast nationwide, where he continues to preach the populist gospel. cal hack and Wall Street toady who has admitted publicly that he is shockedshocked!to learn that people outside Washington are worried about their jobs and mad as hell at corporate greed, mad as hell at corporate CEOs getting fat at the expense of working. families and our communities. Meanwhile, Democrats are re-offering Bill “I-didn’t-inhale” Clinton, who assures us working stiffs that he “feels our pain” and “by golly he is going to do something about the downsizing of America.” What will he do? Hold your breath now: Bill Clinton is going to hold a Washington conference on corporate responsibility, and he intends to ask those corporations that feel like it to share more of their success with the workers who produced it, providing of course that the corporations want tohe certainly doesn’t want to interfere with their God-given right to trample every last employee in the dirt, if that’s what they choose to do. CAN THE SPEAKER READ THE POLLS? Years ago a guy ran for Congress in California and was defeated, and he did not take it well. He said to the press: “The people have spokenthe bastards.” This has to be what our Loudspeaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, is thinking these days, as he looks at the political mess he has made for himself and the Republican Party over environmental issues. Fueled by his own ego and a gusher of campaign money from big-time polluters, Newt and his Republican-controlled Congress have done a gut-job on the environmental laws that stand between even worse industrial pollution and us. It’s our air, water, land, food and families they are attacking. Apparently, these goofuses actually expected the applause of a grateful public, but instead, folks are appalled at what they are trying to do to us. After a year of the GOP’s attempts to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency, for example, a Harris poll now finds that eighty-six percent of us Americans believe an aggressive EPA is needed as much or more today than when the agency was created twenty-five years ago. More stunning to Newt & Gang is that seventy-six percent of Republicans feel this way. Indeed, Republican pollster Linda DiVall recently reported to her GOP congressional clients, “fifty-five percent of Republicans do not trust their party when it comes to protecting the environment,” adding that their assault on America’s anti-pollution laws has put the. GOP “out of sync with mainstream American opinion.” So, are Republican congressional leaders backing off? Of course notthey’ve been bought and paid for by the polluters. Instead, they are advising GOP members to visit zoos and participate in tree plantings back homein an obvious attempt to boost their damaged environmental image. Get ready, I’m about to hit you with a cuss word: “Banker.” Greedheaded bankers are gobbling up the fattest profits in American history taking nearly forty-nine billion dollars in profits from us last year. Is this rich gravy theirs because they’re offering such excellent service to us customers? Spare me. They’re getting fatter than a butcher’s dog simply because our so-called banking “regulators” are letting them rob us in broad daylight. For the past several years, regulators have looked the other way while bankers what they charge you to borrow money from their banks. Today, for example, a banker is paying you a paltry three percent for a money-market deposit, and charging you a princely eighteen percent for your credit-card charges. For Bonnie and Clyde it was never this easy. Now here they come waving a new holdup weapon: fees. Open an account, ask about your account, use your account, close your accountfee, fee, fee, fee. Want to talk to a teller? There’s even a fee for that. In 1990, there were ninety-six different bank fees. Today, there are two hundred fifty kinds of fees. You don’t even have to go into the bank to be robbed. They hit you at the ATM machine, which used to be free. Now, you’re charged twice every time you use itonce by your bank, and again by the bank that owns the machine. Oh, they’ve also come up with a “dormant card fee”a charge for not using your ATM card often enough! “Oh,” say the bankers, “we have to charge a lot because ATMs are so expensive to run.” Liars. Consumer watchdog Ralph Nader has found that for every dollar you pay in ATM fees, the bank makes eighty-one cents in pure profit. Bankers. Shouldn’t they have to wear ski masks when they rob us? 14 MAY 17, 1996