The Hightower Report

No need for a babysitter, Big Brother will do it; and Britain has moral scolds just like America


GROWING UP WITH YOUR CHIP

If we have the technology to track the movements of everyone in America, we should use it, right?

"No," shout most of us, proud that our country has fought from the start to prevent prying authorities from constantly keeping tabs on where we go and what we do. So, how can the authorities break down this innate resistance that we Americans have to Big Brotherism? One simple word, whisper today's technocratic Machiavellians: children.

Of course! We love our children and naturally want them to be safe. There's the perfect opening for the snoopercrats. It's an insecure world, they darkly warn us – terrorists, kidnappers, molesters, you name it. To protect children, we should electronically track them. It's out of love that we do this.

Thus, the school district of Spring, Texas, is now issuing radio-frequency ID cards to its schoolkids, so police can track each of them on a computer screen. Did little Jeannie stop off at her friend's house rather than going straight home after school? With her RFID tag, the authorities know where she is.

It's security paranoia. This district in suburban Houston has not had a single problem with child disappearances. "But," says one mother who applauds the $180,000 system, "you hear about all this violence." So – like keeping track of livestock and Wal-Mart merchandise – parents have OK'd the tracking of their own children. Indeed, authorities in Spring are now considering having the RFIDs implanted under the skin of each child. Then they could track them 24-7.

Not everyone is thrilled. "It's too Big Brother for me," says a 15-year-old student. "Something about the school wanting to know the exact place and time makes me feel kind of like an animal."

Exactly! Rebel, kids – don't let them do it to you! But, of course, the youngest ones can't rebel and will grow up without knowing any different system. Wearing a chip will be normal to them – and they'll not object to having one as an adult, either.


THE MORALITY OF THE MORALISTS

What is it about ultra-right conservatives who build careers as tongue-clucking scolds? They constantly preach about the moral failings of the rest of us – yet they keep getting caught with their own pants down, morally speaking.

I don't merely mean the Falwells, Swaggarts, and other publicly compromised televangelists, but also the right-wing politicos who prance about so piously on their moral high horses. For example, how swell to be lectured on family values by Newt Gingrich, who's now on his third marriage ... or is it No. 4? Also, how perfect to have Bill Bennett anoint himself as the nation's arbiter of conservative virtues – while he sneaks around feeding his gambling addiction. And who can forget the bombastic moral authority of the airwaves, Rush Limbaugh, using his housekeeper to score illegal drugs for him, then trying to lie about it? Are these people born with an extra hypocrisy gene?

It's not just in America either. Britain is all atwitter these days about one of its own especially noisy tongue cluckers, the right honorable Boris Johnson. He's the Latin-spouting, Eaton-schooled editor of the right-wing Spectator, a London newspaper long tied to England's plutocratic Conservative Party. Indeed, Boris himself is a Conservative Party member of the Parliament – where he has served as the party's official spokesperson on cultural policies, freely criticizing the personal morality of others.

He's now been removed from that party post, however, since it has been revealed that Boris the moralist, who is married and has four children, has been cheating on his wife, having an affair with a society columnist at his paper. Furthermore, Boris impregnated the mistress, she had an abortion, and he tried to lie about it, initially calling the accusations "an inverted pyramid of piffle."

What a great phrase! Right-wingers lecturing us on morality are dumping a pyramid of political piffle on us.

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

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

security, Big Brother, Spring, Texas, radio frequency ID cards, Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, Newt Gingrich, Bill Bennett, Rush Limbaugh, Boris Johnson

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