Page 32


COMMENT RV I BY JIM HIGHTOWER Good News, Bad News, You Lose IIII he headline said it all: “Weak U.S. job growth boosts market.” When there’s bad news on there’s joy on Wall Street. As one market analyst explained it: since the economy is not spinning out enough new jobs even to keep up with the increase in the number of new workers entering the job market, “there’s not a lot of labor-cost pressure in the system?’ When economists say “labor cost,” they mean youor, more specifically, your wages. By holding down wages, corporations fatten profits, stock prices rise, and Wall Street’s high-rolling investors rejoice. Twisted as it is, this is the goal of economic policy in the U.S. today. Another market analyst explained that January’s lack of job growth created the perfect economic environment: “It really is the sweet spot,” he gushed. Unless, of course, you need a job or are struggling to make ends meet on stagnant wages. Nearly 8 million Americans were officially unemployed in January, and on average they had been out of work for nearly 20 weeks. However, yet another market analyst said we shouldn’t worry: “I’m not totally gloomy about the {job] outlook,” he declared. Meanwhile, we also got word that while CEOs were being stingy with wages, they were going on a wild spending binge in another area: mergers. Billions of dollars are being thrown into shaky takeover deals, such as SBC swallowing AT&T, Procter & Gamble grabbing Gillette, and Verizon picking off Qwest. The report says that the return of merger mania “indicates executives are confident about spending cash again.” Bully for them. But before you dash out for champagne, you might note that every one of these mergers will result in thousands of jobs being cut, assuring that “labor-cost pressure” will stay weak. NEO-CONNED Reality can be hard on theoristsjust ask that gaggle of geniuses who designed and pushed W’s invasion of Iraq. The theory propound ed by Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, and Bush’s other “Big-Thinker” war hawks \(none of whom have ever been in a sein would cause the flowering of a proAmerican democracy in Iraq. In their glorious vision, grateful Iraqis would shower American troops with rose petals, Halliburton would quickly rebuild the country’s infrastructure, U.S. corporations would install a pure capitalist economy, and our troops would be home by summer, having turned over power to a secular government, largely handpicked by Bushites. Of course, the reality is that our troops are still mired there, showered with bombs and bullets rather than roses. The economy is a wreck, and far from becoming a Mideastern bastion of American empire, Iraq has become an incubator for antiAmerican terrorists. But the greatest embarrassment for neo-con theorists is that the recent elections in Iraq produced the exact opposite of what they assumed. The theory was that secular Iraqi politicians long allied with the CIA would win, giving Bush & Co. an Arab ally to counter the Muslim theocracy in neighboring Iran. In theory, Iraq could then be counted on to side with the U.S. on everything from Mideast oil prices to Israeli policy. But the candidates of the neo-cons got skunked! The election was won by a religious slate handpicked by Iraq’s top Shiite Muslim leader. Moreover, the two parties that now control three-fourths of the new government’s legislative seats have long-standing and very close ties not to usbut to that Islamic republic right next door in Iran. One of the greatest ironies of Bush’s war is that it has created a new ally for Iran, the very country that the neo-cons want to attack next. WIN, BABY, WIN! Oh, the shame, cry editorialists and moralists, shrieking that pro athletes who goose up their bodies with illicit anabolic steroids are rank scoundrels who should be banned from the hallowed games of baseball, football. Even W. tried to ride the wave of moral indignation by calling for users to be punished. The latest jolt of outrage comes with the publication of a tell-all book written by Jose Canseco, a former baseball star who asserts that 80 percent of big leaguers are taking steroids. Whether Canseco’s confessional is true or an exaggerationwhy would we be surprised, much less outraged, that ballplayers would go to extremes to make themselves play better? That same sports establishment constantly preaches to athletes \(from grade school right on is everything, that second place is just another term for “loser,” that you have to give it your all and must be willing to “sacrifice” your body. Athletes are richly rewarded for finding an “edge” and doing what is necessary to get an advantage in order to “win, baby, win!” Team owners profit by having muscle-bound hunks who can pound homeruns or run over opponents, and the entire locker room ethic is to use pills, machines, potions, voodoo, or whateverjust produce. Notice also that these same owners don’t give a damn about the players they’ve used up and cast aside to spend the rest of their shortened lifespans suffering chronic pain, memory loss, and other nasty debilitations. The system can’t use these people, then feign outrage that they reached too far to excel. Jim Hightower is a speaker and author. To order his books or schedule him for a speech, visit . To subscribe to his newsletter, the Hightower Lowdown, call toll-free 1-866-271-4900. MARCH 18, 2005 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 15