JIM HIGHTOWER Congress Delivers. . .Union-Busting Federal Express is the high flying overnight mail operation that promises”absolutely, positively”that it will deliver on time. But in Washington, it was the Congress that was “absolutely, positively” determined to deliver for Federal Expressso deter mined that Republican Senate leader Trent Lott kept the entire body in session past its scheduled adjournment date, until the weary members gave up and passed the benefit that FedEx wanted. It’s a classic example of how a powerful corporation buys legislation. Both the Senate and House had passed versions of the basic federal aviation act, without a certain “technical correction” that Federal Express demanded. This “correction” would make it nearly impossible for the airline’s employees to organize a union something many of them want. So FedEx simply used Congress as its union-buster, Even though neither house had approved the FedEx proviso, a secret conference committee snuck it back into the bill, What did the company use to shiffirde its amendment into the bill? Money, of coursethe WD-40 of American politics. FedEx spent $1,4 million on lobbyists in just the first six months of this year, including hiring the former top aide to transportation committee chairman Bud Schuster, who obediently shoved through the antiworker loophole. The airline also greased the skids with $600,000 in campaign contributions to Schuster, Trent Lott, Newt Gingrich and other key players. Democrats got money, too, perhaps because former Democratic Senate leader George Mitchell was recently named a FedEx board member. Also, FedEx has let Senator Lott and others hop rides on its airplanes, which might be why Lott was willing to ground the Senate until it passed the loophole. For only two million dollars, FedEx bought the leaders of Congress and wrote its own first-class ticket to hold down America’s working class. CORPORATE “NEWS”. With all the recent mega-mergers, Amer ica’s media industry is fast becoming what longtime press watchdog Ben Bagdikian has called a “Private Ministry of Information and Culture.” Instead of Big Brother controlling what we see, hear, and read, Big Business is taking charge. Take television: NBC is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of General Electric, Turner Broadcasting has been swallowed by Time-Warner, CBS is under the thumb of Westinghouse, and ABC is just another product of Disney Inc. So what, they respondwith cable TV there’s plenty of room for diversity. Check again, Little Nellie Sunshine. The Big Four Media Conglomerates also own such cable powerhouses as CNN, CNN Financial Network, Headline News, TBS, CNBC, MS/NBC, Court TV, the History Channel, A&E, Lifetime Network, The Nashville Network, HBO, ESPN, Cinemax, E!, American Movie Classics and even the Comedy Channel, among others, Far from presenting a diversity of viewpoints, digging into meaty stories or offering any useful discussion about issues that really matter to us, these new corporate-media amalgamations are into what they call “synergy,” That’s a fifty-cent word that the dictionary defines as “combined action.” You would define it as shameless self-promotion. Instead of news, for example, the Private Ministry of Information is giving us such fluff as a report by Disney-owned ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Disney World’s 25th anniversary hoopla. That’s rightDisney “reporting” on Disney. It included ABC’s science editor doing a feature on a new ride at Disney World. Don’t expect ABC’s Peter Jennings to report on such outrages as Disney’s exploitation of child labor in Haiti. It’s more likely that Peter Jennings will be replaced by Mickey Mouse. FIGHTING THE M.O.B. Oh joy! The Pentagon has come up with a brand new way to spend $2 billion more of our tax funds. Yes, the people who brought you the $1,600 hammer and the multibillion-dollar scam of Star Wars, now want you and me to pay for a new Pentagon pipe dream to be calleddrum roll please: “MOB.”, “MOB” is short for Mobile Offshore Base. The idea is to build giant, floating military bases much like offshore, oildrilling platformsonly much, much bigger. Each one is to be big enough for huge, C-130 cargo planes to land on it. Big enough for thousands of troops to be stationed aboard it. Big enough for an armory of weapons, tanks, landing craft and other invasion equipment to be stored on it. And these things float, you see, way out in the Pacific, the Persian Gulf, the Adriatic Sea or whereversort of like man-made, ever-ready continents of war, at only two billion bucks a pop \(not counting With these big babies in place, our Washington leaders can get us into even more foreign entanglements than we’re now in, and they won’t have to be dependent on Saudi Arabia, Turkey and other nations as a staging area for their military adventures. The whole scheme is dumber than Dumb-de-dumb-dumb, but believe it or not, Defense Secretary William Perry has already given the green light to develop the MOB, and Pentagon contractors are ‘going ga-ga over the possibility of cashing in on such a buoyant boondoggle. The Wall Street Journal reports that Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton Inc., has the inside track on getting the first contract to build a MOB. Guess who heads Halliburton? Dick Cheney, the former secretary of defense who helped to bring us Star Wars! I think we need a mob to stop the MOBto stop Dick Cheney, William Perry and this whole gang of Pentagon thieves from picking our pockets again. 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. DECEMBER 6, 1996 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19 0.
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