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JIM HIGHTOWER Cloning Around Once again, science marches on … and on … until it tramples right over humanity moral fences. It was less than a year ago that a lamb called Dolly was “born” not through natures process of the egg and the sperm, but by being cloned in a laboratory from an adult cell. This had previously been thought impossibly but there Dolly was: proof that mankind could clone entire animals … even humans. “Hold on,” the scientific establishment shouted at those of us who raised ethical concerns, “we have no interest in cloning people, so quit trying to alarm folks with your ‘brave new world’ scenarios ” Not even a year later, though, the same establishment that was saying “Never” … is suddenly saying “Why not?” Indeed, according to The New York Times, the experiments are already underway. Dr. Steen Willadsen, a cloning pioneer, says flatly: “It’s just a matter of time before the first human is cloned.” It’s easy for entrepreneurs to envision big profits from chains of cloning centers. After all, they argue, it’s just another way of reproducing. Infertile couples could clone themselves, producing babies that are themselves. Or, grieving parents of a terminally-ill child literally could reproduce that child through cloning. And what about cloning to create a ready source of body parts for ill people? Farfetched? The Times cites a doctor who says: “If any of my relatives got cancer, I would clone them” and use the clone as a bone marrow donor to save the relative’s life. Here we go again, rushing down that slippery slope of immorality, and chasing an “immortality” with no functioning brakes. Why not “designer children,” too? Tiger Woods could create a whole new revenue stream by literally selling little pieces of himself! What a Brave New World the cloners offer. NEED A PHONE PEST? In a suggestion box at one of our national forests, someone who’s clearly not much of a nature lover left this comment: “Too many bugs. Please spray the wilderness to get rid of these pests.” It seems to me that bugs belong in the wilderness, but there is one breed of pest that I wish someone would spray: telephone solicitors! In the early a.m. and in the late p.m., on weekends and even on holidays, while you’re eating and while you’re sleeping, here come the telephone solicitors, barging right into our homes. Hustling everything from charge cards to politicians, telemarketers have become a major manmade nuisance. This is why it startled me to learn that some of my tax money is going to be spent to populate our world with even more of these nuisances and, indeed, to establish telephone solicitation as a “profession.” I kid you not. Telemarketing is trying to get respectability, now referring to itself as “The Call Center Industry.” It not only is seeking more workers to pester us with more phone calls, but it also wants those workers to know more about computers and to be trained in ever more sophisticated ways to sell more stuff to us. This is where my tax dollars come in. The Austin Community College has announced that, at the request of the “Call Center Industry,” it will offer classes to train phone solicitors. Only, graduates of these classes will not be called anything so dclass as solicitors instead, they’ll be given certificates designating them as “customer support analysts.” Great. We taxpayers get socked so telemarketing firms can get free training for their low-wage workers, the workers get a certificate giving them a fancy title, and we’ll end up getting even more pestering phone calls to our homes. Why don’t they just poke us in the eye with a sharp stick while they’re at it? CARTEL CARE COMMITTEE From phone companies to the media giants, from banks to software, whole industries are being merged, contracted, conglomeratized and globalized in such a way that is destroying real competition, leaving us consumers and our communities at the mercy of monopolistic corporations. Not to worry, though. Just before Thanksgiving, Attorney General Janet Reno took a bold step to do something about these emerging global cartels. Well, “do something” is a bit strong I mean, in the yuppified Clinton Administration, Teddy Roosevelt-style trust busting is so pass, so indiscreet, so aggressive, and so … out of the question. So, instead of actually busting these anticompetitive trusts, General Reno has \(are you tee to review and report on the activities of the international goliaths that are ripping us off! There, don’t you feel better already? Wait ’til you hear who’s on her twelvemember “International Competition Policy Advisory Committee.” It’s co-chaired by James Rill, who was in charge of antitrust actions for the Bush Administration. You remember what a tiger the Bushies were on antitrust, don’t you? As firm as a jello doorstop. The other co-chair is Paula Stern. She’s a consultant to global corporations, helping them find their way around antitrust laws. Hey, you were expecting Ralph Nader? Other members include the chief lawyer at Aetna insurance, big-shot corporate lobbyist Vernon Jordan, and the top number cruncher at Xerox. In announcing this committee, Reno declared: “International cartel restraints cost consumers hundreds of millions of dollars each year.” Indeed they do. So, where are the consumer reps?! This silly committee is not there to protect consumers, but to protect global cartels from consumers. Where’s Teddy Roosevelt when we need him? Jim Hightower is a former Observer editor and Agriculture Commissioner who preaches the populist gospel nationwide on his daily Hightower Radio show. JANUARY 30, 1998 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 15