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JIM HIGHTOWER Today’s game features those corporations that each contributed a $100,000 or more to sponsor the Democratic Convention in Chicago. These fun-loving outfits say they were just doing their civic duty. But as you follow the money you’ll find that each and every one of these donors is getting millions, even billions, in subsidies, tax loopholes and other favors from Uncle Sugar. Let’s play! I’ll name the company, then we’ll make the connection: Abbot Labs: It’s one of the drug companies that enjoy lavish research grants from taxpayers, special subsidies for shipping U.S. pharmaceutical jobs to Puerto Rico, and extended patent protections to let them keep overcharging us consumers. Archer Daniels Midland: Also A big Republican giver, ADM gets $300 million a year in subsidies for making ethanol. BankAmerica: It gets quick approval of its anti-competitive mega-mergers, as well as deregulation rulings that let its banks jack up all of their fees and hold up us customers. Coopers & Lybrand and Ernst & Young: These are two of the accounting giants that just got a “Crooks & Swindlers Act” passed, allowing them to escape liability when their shoddy accounting practices rip you off. Lockheed Martin: The huge Pentagon contractor that literally lives off us taxpayers, including standing in line with hands out for us to pay more than $16 million in bonuses to its top executives. Gosh, we’re only half way through the alphabet and out of time already. But you get the pictureit really pays to be a $100,000 player in politics. WNO GETS WELFARE? Sometimes it’s just Rip & Read, right out of the news. Here’s a little local story in the Austin, Texas, paper, that tells a big national story, because what’s happening here is being repeated all over the country. It’s about a state agency handing out “high-tech training grants.” Washington and Wall Street alike are bullish on these jobtraining programs, saying that they’re just the ticket to get America’s working people on board for the “21st Century Global Economy.” Before you swallow all that Globaloney, though, check out these grants: A community college in Uvalde, Texas, was awarded $90,000 to train thirty-five airplane maintenance workers for a company whose owner proudly tells us he will pay the graduates of this training program $5.50 an hour. Hey, thanks a lot, Sport! A community college in Brownsville is to get a $68,000 grant to train skilled welders for a local company paying only $7.50 an hour: And the Austin Community College is getting $484,000 to train high-tech employees for IBM, Motorola and other computer companies located herejobs for which the companies will pay no more than ten bucks an hour. Even ten bucks an hour adds up to barely $20,000 a year for fulltime work. This is our high-tech future? Computer workers paid $20,000 will not even be able to make the rent in our city, much less aspire to a middle-class life. These training grants are nothing but corporate welfare, subsidizing companies by creating a huge pool of highly-skilled, lowwage workers. The owner of the airplane maintenance firm whines that he’s not been able to get good employees. Of course not! Five-fifty an hour is a poverty wage. Why should we subsidize him to live on the backs of poverty workers? Besides, I personally don’t want the planes I ride maintained by some poor stiff paid $11,000 a year and not feeling good about itdo you? POISON ROULETTE The political season is always a prime opportunity to hear new examples of doublespeakthe use of language to make lies seem truthful. A splendid sample of this is a recent law pushed through by both Democrats and Republicans called the “Food Quality Protection Act.” President Clinton even referred to it in his speech to the Democratic Party convention, boasting that “We are making our food safer from pesticides.” Sounds terrific, Bill, but actually this law makes our food less safe from pesticides. Until this law was passed, a provision called the Delaney Clause said flatly that no cancer-causing pesticide residue is allowed to be in our processed foods. The new Food Quality Act, though, kills the Delaney Clause. Now, poisons will be allowed, so long as they result in only a “reasonable risk” of your getting cancer. How reasonable? The new law says that it’s OK for processed foods to contain a carcinogenic . chemical if it only kills a couple of hundied of us a yearabout the same number of folks killed on TWA Flight 800. This “reasonable risk,” by the way, is per chemical, so there’ll be quite a few planeloads of people going down, since hundreds of cancer-causing compounds are used in food production. This law was co-sponsored in Congress by Representative Tom DeLay, a pest exterminator from Texas, and Representative Thomas Bliley, a mortician from Virginia. I guess we shouldn’t expect good news from a food-safety law sponsored by an exterminator and a mortician, huh? Still, Katie McGinty, head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, hails the “Food Quality Protection Act” as a new day in food regulation. But her enthusiasm might be a little suspect, since she used to be a lobbyist for the American Chemical Association. Beware of politicians claiming they’ve done something too good to be true. Chances are, they haven’t. Jim Hightower is a former Observer editor and Texas Agriculture Commissioner. His new nationwide radio show broadcasts daily from the Chat & Chew Cafe in Austin, Texas, where he continues to preach the populist gospel. Follow That Money! Now let’s play “What’s My Connection” an exciting new quiz show, that links campaign cash to companies that then cash in on the government! Sound like fun? 20 THE TEXAS OBSERVER OCTOBER 25, 1996