The Hightower Report

Bush acts like layoffs don't exist, and uses Iraq to distract the media from corporate corruption.

Bush Plays Games With Layoffs

I recently talked with a hospital worker who said she was living on a "fixed income" these days -- and she's looking for whoever fixed it!

Well, one who's not doing the job of fixing our ailing economy is our beloved George W. His idea of helping America's hard-hit working families is to give yet another trillion-dollar tax giveaway to the richest people in the country. They'll use it to create jobs, he says with that self-satisfied smirk of his.

But that's what he said about his first trillion-dollar giveaway to the same rich people two years ago. Since then, the U.S. has lost more than 2 million jobs.

In just the past few months, there have been mass layoffs by such giants as AOL Time Warner, Boeing, Dow Jones, Goodyear, Kodak, McDonald's, Merrill Lynch, JCPenney, Sara Lee, and Verizon -- and more to come.

These are bad numbers -- politically as well as economically. Such mass layoffs are especially embarrassing, because ... well, they get noticed by the public. When so many workers are given pink slips at once, it gets in the news -- and the labor department, which tracks this data, reports that there were more than 2,000 mass layoffs last year. Ouch.

What to do, what to do? I know, shouted some eager Bushite: Let's just stop reporting these numbers! Ahhh, the cleverness, the simplicity, the manipulativeness. Clean.

So that's what the Bushites did. Last Christmas Eve, while the media was off having eggnog and dreaming of sugarplum fairies, Bush's labor department quietly slipped out a four-sentence press release announcing that its Mass Layoff Statistics Program was "discontinued." The statistical grinches claimed they had to do this because there just wasn't any money for tracking and reporting such information.

The only little glitch in this out-of-sight, out-of-mind scheme is that layoffs aren't statistics -- they're people, families, communities. We still see you George -- the problem is too big and too ugly to hide.

What Happened to Corporate Corruption?

The war drums continue to pound in Washington, and the national media is riveted to the story of Bush's coming Iraq Attack, having given it saturation coverage for weeks, including everything from Fox Television's "All War, All the Time" broadcasts to daily spreads in all the newspapers.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch -- or, more specifically, back on Wall Street -- the stench of corporate corruption continues to rise unabated. Remember when this corruption was news, and politicians of all stripes were on their hind legs vowing to "do something" about a corporate system gone bad? But that was before George W. wagged that dog, Saddam, and all attention shifted away from Wall Street to far-off Iraq.

Did the corporate corruption go away? No, it's still going on ... and on. For example, Credit Suisse First Boston, the giant bank, has had to suspend its star technology banker because -- ahem -- it seems that he learned that regulators were on his trail, so he urged underlings to "clean up" their files to dispense with any incriminating evidence. And here's KPMG, the accounting giant, that has only now been charged by regulators with teaching Xerox how to "Enron" its books and deceive investors.

Then there's Tyco, which was all over the news last year for the scandalous activities of its top executives, who were living in extravagant luxury on company money. But Tyco ousted the bad guys, got a brand-new board of directors, and pledged loudly that it would now be a leader in open and ethical corporate governance. Fine, except that the new board is still running Tyco's old tax dodge by being formally headquartered in Bermuda to avoid paying U.S. taxes. And get this: Tyco, which is physically located in New York, says it'll hold its upcoming shareholder's meeting in Bermuda -- far out of the reach of most of its stockholders.

The story didn't go away, just the media ... and those politicians who were going to fix the corrupt corporate system.

For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown – visit You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio, 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.

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