The Hightower Report

UNC acts like a public university; and the Bushites “save” endangered species by killing them.


At a time when the very concept of the "public good" is being bashed and dashed by the downsizers and privatizers on Wall Street and in Washington, what a joy it is to get a bit of good news from Chapel Hill, N.C.

Officials at the University of North Carolina have taken a stand to make a university education in that state more universal for the people -- particularly for students from families of the working poor. In a first for public universities, UNC has announced that it will cover these students' full cost, including room and board, of attending the university -- a total of about $13,000 a year for each student. In return, the students will work on campus 10 to 12 hours a week.

"College should be possible for everyone who can make the grade, regardless of 'family income,'" says the UNC chancellor. Yet, among too many of America's high school graduates who come from families of modest means, the perception is that college is for those who have the bucks to go -- and is beyond their own reach. Surveys show that the rapidly rising cost of attending college (up 200% in the past 20 years), and the fear of having to amass too much of a debt load on them and their families, is now preventing about half of our country's academically qualified low-income students from attending.

Higher education has proven to be undeniably good, not merely for the individual, but also for the overall economy and for the common good, so UNC has made an important and bold decision not to abandon those who are being left out. The chancellor says simply that this policy is "an expression of our values at this university."

Thank you, UNC. Such a policy also happens to be an expression of our nation's founding values of economic fairness, social justice, and equal opportunity for all. It's time for all other states to rise to the challenge of implementing those values, as UNC is striving to do.


I thought I was beyond astonishment. I've been to the State Fair twice, I've been embroiled in Texas politics, and I've dug into the thievery of Wall Street and Washington ... but I've never seen such jaw-dropping stupidity as the latest proposal from George W.'s interior department.

The boneheads in charge of administering our nation's policies toward the world's endangered species have decided that the way to "save" Asian elephants, Amazon parrots, and other species threatened with extinction -- is to kill them!

What we have here is more of the ivory tower, laissez-faire bushwa that substitutes for thinking in this corporatized administration. Their assertion is that if America's pet industry, circus companies, fur and skin purveyors, and safari firms were able to -- ahem -- "harvest" a big bunch of these already endangered animals each year, these corporations would pay harvest fees for each animal taken, thus allowing governments in these impoverished countries to funnel the money into better conservation programs for the animals that survive.

It would be akin to letting a crime syndicate pay fees for its own heists so local police could fund crime prevention lectures.

Of course, in the real world, what this harebrained scheme would do is put a price on the head of every animal, providing an irresistible and uncontrollable market incentive for freelance entrepreneurs to kill, ship, and profit from endangered wildlife.

Yet, Interior Department officials are pushing blindly and unilaterally ahead with their executive "reinterpretation" of the Endangered Species Act, simply dismissing anyone who protests. As one Bushite scoffed: "There are critics who are going to claim some kind of ulterior motive to our action."

Yes! The motive is your mindless determination to twist all laws to serve corporate interests. To fight their perversion of this law, call the Animal Welfare Institute 703/836-4300.

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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University of North Carolina, George W. Bush, endangered species, Department of the Interior, Endangered Species Act, Animal Welfare Institute

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