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The Hightower Report

Pity for CEOS; and the Granny Peace Brigade

By Jim Hightower, Fri., May 19, 2006


PITY FOR CEOs

Friends, I'm appealing today to your most charitable instincts. I want you to know about the terrible oppression being suffered by a minority of our fellow citizens. Once you hear their story of horror, I know you'll be deeply touched and will respond with all of the sympathy they deserve. I refer, of course, to the CEOs of America's largest corporations.

Well, yes, it's true that this minority group is made up of pampered, phenomenally wealthy elites, but even the rich have feelings, and they say that their feelings are being victimized by government regulators and prosecutors. The CEOs wail that these pesky officials are harassing them over such standard business practices as cooking the corporate books, inflating their own pay packages, and engaging in fraud.

Last year, Americans opened their arms to Hurricane Katrina victims. Won't you do the same for this year's tragic poster child of charitable need: Overregulated Corporate Executives?

The CEOs – backed by a phalanx of lobbyists, lawyers, front groups, and think tanks – are now going all out to reduce government oversight of executive wrongdoing. Leading the charge is the Cato Institute, a corporate-funded think tank filled with laissez-faire ideologues. The Cato gang has recently published a book that concludes that America would be better off if there were no criminal enforcement of laws requiring businesses to be honest.

Taking this "poor oppressed executive" theme deep into the abyss of absurdity, the book carries an endorsement from Mark Levin, a right-wing radio yakker, who blurts out this pitiful cry for help: "Did you know that in many ways the terrorists detained at Guantanamo Bay have more rights than corporate CEOs and their employees?"

Gosh, bosses treated worse than terrorists! Can you feel their pain?


THE GRANNY PEACE BRIGADE

The grannies are free! If you ever doubted that personal activism can be effective, inspirational, and fun, check out the recent success in New York City of the Granny Peace Brigade.

Last fall, these 18 ladies (ranging from 62 to 91 years old) descended on an Army recruiting station in Manhattan. They wanted to enlist and be sent to Iraq in the place of young people who otherwise would have to go. "Kill us, not them," was their plea – a grandmotherly gesture to focus public attention on the deadly price of Bush's war of lies.

When told to go away, they simply sat down – for which they were arrested, handcuffed, jailed, and charged with "disorderly conduct." The prosecutor offered to dismiss the charges if the grannies agreed not to cause any "trouble" for six months.

No deal, shouted the 18, instead demanding their day in court. As one put it, "We are at a very important point in the history of our country. It is our responsibility as patriots not to be silent."

In their six-day trial, prosecutors claimed the women had blocked access to the recruiters. But Judy Lear responded that if someone had approached, she would have moved over – "I'm a very polite person," she noted. Well, sniffed prosecutors, you people weren't really prepared to go to war – to which Diana Dreyfus retorted, "I was totally prepared. I had just recently gotten divorced. I was ready."

When the judge finally dismissed all charges, the grannies gathered happily with their lawyer, who told them: "The decision today says the First Amendment protects you to protest peacefully. So, go do it." The grannies cheered.

An old cliché declares that if you're not a liberal at 20 you have no heart, but if you're not a conservative at 40 you have no brain. Maybe so, but if you're not a radical by 60, you're really not living at all.

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