JIM HIGHTOWER Boondoggles and Mind Boggles Its that time againGooberhead time The Gooberawarded to those whose tongues work overtime even when their minds are on vacationgoes this time to a repeat winner: Representative Tom DeLay, the Republican Whip in the U.S. House DeLay, a Houston millionaire, startled even his Republican colleagues recently when he declared that there is no need to raise America’s minimum wage because: “Working families trying to get by on four dollars and twenty-five cents an hour don’t really exist.” Earth to Tommy, Earth to Tommy: Four million people work for the four-twentyfive-an-hour minimum wage today. And, contrary to the propaganda put out by the industries that profit from these povertywage workers, these are not just teenagers earning a little extra pocket money after school. Two thirds of them are adults, and nearly forty percent of them are sole breadwinners who are indeed “trying to get by” on such minimal pay. Is Tommy stupid, or does he just think we’re stupid? This is the same guy, by the way, who has whined that members of Congress are underpaid and that they should get a raise. He has also tried to create new tax loopholes that would dole out an average of eight thousand five hundred dollars a year to corporate executiveswhich just happens to be what a minimum-wage worker makes in a whole year. Bear in mind that the average CEO of America’s big companies now makes twelve thousand dollars per day. PER DAY! Yet Tom DeLay wants to give them an extra eight thousand five hundred dollars a year in tax breaks, while denying America’s poorest paid workers a long overdue ninety-cent pay hike. What a gooberhead. It’s time to raise the wage floor in America so people who go to work every day can make a decent living. DON’T WORRY…BE HAPPY! It’s our “Headline of the Week” from the New York Times: “Report Says Public’s Anxiety Over Layoffs Has Been Exaggerated.” Exaggerated. Who issued this newsworthy report? The CEDCommittee for Economic Development. And who, pray tell, is the CED? Why, it’s a research front funded by AT&T, Texaco, BankAmerica and some two hundred fifty other major corporations. That’s right, the very corporations whose executives are drop-kicking millions of American workers through the goal posts of greed, while they run to the bank with record profits and embarrassingly high pay packages for themselves. You’ve got to appreciate the raw chutzpah of these guys: first, they ship our goodpaying, high-skilled jobs to every Third World hellhole where they can pay fifty cents an houror lessto workers, then they use these Third World wage levels as an excuse to knock down middle-class income here at home and, finally, they issue this report accusing us of “hysteria,” and irrational “hand-wringing” about America’s job future. What this report is, is a preemptive strike designed to prevent any political discussion in this fall’s elections about the class warfare that America’s privileged elite are waging against America’s working families. And now get thisthe Bill Clinton Democrats are the ones allied with the corporate bosses, claiming that you working folks are really better off than you think you are. The CED is even calling on Bob Dole not to challenge Clinton on this issue of middle-class job anxiety and corporate greed. “Let sleeping dogs lie” is their motto. Here we go again: another national election where both parties conspire with Wall Street to avoid the biggest issue affecting Our Streets. And they wonder why people don’t vote! POLLUTER PORK PROTECTORS Here they come! The Polluter Pork Protec torsa brigade of our preposterous “public servants” in Congress who consistently vote to give taxpayer subsidies to polluters. That’s rightthese lawmakers take tax dollars from us to give to corporations so they can wreak havoc on our environment. And you thought Congress didn’t have a sense of humor! Well, get ready to chuckle at the madcap antics of the merry pranksters in Congress who are handing out subsidies to timber companies, coal-mine operators, nuclearpower plant builders, gold-mining conglomerates, utilities and other powerhouses of American pollution. They gave forty million dollars, for example, to Westinghouse and GE to finance their application for a nuclear power licenseshouldn’t these two pay for their own application? Also, Congress gave two hundred million dollars to subsidize private roads for the exclusive use of timber companies in our national forestsa road building program that already is nine times as big as our national highway system. Guess which lawmakers are the most enthusiastic downers in support of these boondoggles? Why, the very ones who have shouted so long and loud for a balanced budgetlike Senator Larry Craig of Idaho, who did not vote even once last year to cut polluter pork. What a clown he’ 11 make you laugh ’til you cry! Here’s an extra giggle for you on Senator Craig: he has taken nearly three hundred thousand dollars in campaign funds from the polluters whose pork he is protecting. The U.S. Public Interest Research GroupUS PIRGhas just issued a report revealing that polluting corporations gave forty-seven million dollars in campaign contributions in the last six years alone and, in turn, Congress handed them twenty-three BILLION dollars in taxpayer subsidies. What a bunch of jokers, huh? To get the last laugh on them, call Jim Hightower is a former Observer editor and Texas Agriculture Commissioner. His daily radio commentaries are broadcast nationwide, as he continues to preach the populist gospel. JUNE 14, 1996 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 15 dolls.1111111V,Ororn.w.eMol….
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