The Hightower Report
Tastes Like Profit; and Toiling on Wall Street
Tastes Like Profit
Let's talk chicken.
I don't mean clucking and cocka-doodle-dooing, but the power of the bird. Most people hear the word "chicken" and immediately think: "Dinner!" Some commercial interests in Georgia, however, think: "Money!" So, they've launched a campaign to put the common fryer on the top roost of the bird kingdom by having it declared the state bird of Georgia.
But wait – there's already a state bird: the brown thrasher. No problem, says Chris Cunningham, the chief champion of the chicken campaign – we'll just get the Legislature to dethrone that little thrasher and enthrone our money bird. Cunningham, who owns a chain of restaurants specializing in (what else?) fried chicken, says that the thrasher is inedible, lazy, and migratory. Beside being pretty, he asks, "What's it ever done for the state of Georgia?"
Yeah, if you can't pluck a profit from a feathered creature, who needs it?
In contrast, Cunningham points out that the chicken is Georgia's cash cow (so to speak), with millions of the cooped-up cluckers generating some $18 billion a year for the state economy and providing about 47,000 poultry industry jobs. It's time for chickens to "get a little respect," Cunningham crows.
Well, chickens themselves probably don't think that a daily mass slaughter of their kin and kind is a show of much respect. And before we weep with gratitude about those chicken-plucking jobs, let's note that the overwhelming number of them are nonunion, no-benefit, short-term, nasty, and dangerous "jobettes" that don't come near providing a family wage or a middle-class opportunity for workers. Where's the respect in that?
Actually, I'm with Cunningham in seeing the nobility in common chickens. He points out that they are the "closest living relative to the Tyrannosaurus rex." But their nobility stems from their overall birdness – not from their chopped-up parts feeding the corporate profits of Big Chicken.
Toiling on Wall Street
Goldman Sachs recently announced that the work of its investment bankers in the past year was so fabulous that they were being given bonuses totaling more than $16 billion. This caused many workaday Americans to shake their heads in disbelief – not merely at the absurd sum, but also at the notion that these soft-hand financiers are engaged in productive "work."
What do Wall Street's narcissistic casino dealers actually do? What do they produce for the good of society? Well, for one sterling example, check out a product they manufactured last year, called the iTraxx SovX. No home should be without one!
No, it's not a slick new smart phone. The iTraxx SovX – created by a consortium of Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, and a dozen other Wall Street powers – is a "sovereign credit derivative index." A what? It's a computerized trading scheme that allows wealthy speculators to buy "credit default swaps" on troubled European economies. Huh?
OK, in plain language: The iTraxx is a tip sheet for global gamblers. In particular, it lets banks and hedge funds lay down big money on a wager that the Greek economy is going to collapse. In other words, if the Greek people suffer, Champagne corks will pop on Wall Street because high-rolling speculators there will have won their bet.
What a terrific product!
By the way, the Greek economy is now teetering on the brink of broke because Goldman Sachs' financial fabricators invented another profiteering scheme a decade ago that allowed Greek leaders to hide the true depth of their country's financial trouble. Goldman pocketed $300 million on that sorry deal, and now it will rake in more by betting against the economy it helped dynamite.
So, while honest work might be virtuous, Goldman's financial flimflammery pays better.
Jim Hightower, Fri., Feb. 1, 2013
Jim Hightower, Fri., Aug. 10, 2012
Jim Hightower, Fri., June 10, 2011
Jim Hightower, Fri., May 13, 2011
Jim Hightower, Fri., Dec. 17, 2010
Jim Hightower, Fri., May 24, 2013
Jim Hightower, Fri., May 17, 2013
Jim Hightower, Fri., May 10, 2013
Jim Hightower, Fri., May 3, 2013
Jim Hightower, Fri., April 26, 2013
at The Belmont
2013 Lambda Literary Awards/Reading at BookWoman
Husbands at The Marchesa Hall & Theatre
Film Review Misses Mark Please make a note not to print any more movie reviews of big action movies by Kimberley Jones. She gets ...
What's the Big Deal? I'm baffled by this obsession with Mueller. I drove through it out of curiosity and it's a suburban nightmare that ...
No Mystery in School Bond Failures How out of touch has the Chronicle become with the voting populace of this city? From the article “Bonds: Death ...
Program Is Vital Resource I am responding to your article on ACCESS News, the program by and for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. The ...
Finding Rail Route Complicated Michael King, in “The Reading Railroad”, while making valuable points, seems to state that finding an initial route for urban ...
- Follow us@AustinChronicle