The Hightower Report

The wrong side of democracy; and taxpayers' bucks fill corporate piggy banks

CREATING ENEMIES FOR AMERICA

The first George W. to be president, George Washington, sagely warned against America's getting caught up in "entangling alliances" in foreign affairs. The current W, however, seems to think he's smarter than the original.

As a result of Bush's arrogance or ignorance or both, our country is now entangled in some very ugly and messy alliances that put us on the wrong side of history, morality, and the worldwide yearning for democracy. For example, check out W.'s buddy in Uzbekistan, President Islam Karimov. Since September 11, the Bushites have constantly hailed Karimov's government as a staunch ally in their war against terrorism. But what they've not wanted us to know is that their buddy is a repressive, brutal, autocratic, terroristic thug who rules Uzbekistan with an iron fist.

Karimov's oppression and corruption drove the people to a boiling point in May, and protesters poured into the streets. Karimov responded with a bloody crackdown, unleashing his troops to open fire with rifles and machine guns. Independent sources say several hundred protesters and bystanders were gunned down, but Karimov's government is trying to cover it up by declaring that the uprising was "a planned and well-prepared terrorist act by international radical-extremist groups." In other words, Karimov says he's just being a good soldier in George W.'s global counterterrorism fight. "Only terrorists were liquidated," his spokesman said of the crackdown.

Amazingly, the Bushites are still standing behind their buddy, characterizing these democracy-fighters who rose up against Karimov as militants and terrorists. Bush's secretary of state, Condi Rice, sympathized with the oppressor, saying that no government should have to "deal with terrorists."

Guess who has armed and trained Karimov's troops? The Bushites! Using the Foreign Military Financing program, they have entangled our country with a thoroughly repressive regime, creating new enemies for America among the people who should be our friends.


FREE ENTERPRISE SOCIALISM

Attention, class, we're now going to study the new and improved concept of "free enterprise," which has been redefined by modern corporate executives as the availability of free government money to make their enterprise profitable.

Let's turn to the sterling example set by Cabela's Inc. This giant retailer of hunting, fishing, and other outdoor products recently graced the state of Texas with one of its megastores, but only after demanding and receiving a rucksack filled with government subsidies, including $600,000 cash, $36 million in road and construction costs, and $20 million in highway improvements.

What we have here is the giveaway of roughly $57 million of Texas taxpayers' money to an out-of-state corporation to bribe it to come to our state and compete against local businesses that, ironically, are taxed to pay for Cabela's subsidy – a subsidy that will allow the megastore to undercut the prices charged by the locals, thus driving them out of business. Our governor, who's dimmer than a burned-out flashlight, hails this as a triumph of free-enterprise.

For its part, Cabela's is unabashed about its dependence on corporate socialism, even declaring in its annual report that grabbing public money is key to its business plan. But while it thrives on government giveaways, the retail chain has added a new twist to the game by demurely declaring that, as a private, for-profit company, its privacy rights would be violated if details about its public subsidy were revealed to the public. Thus, Cabela's has sued our state attorney general, claiming that it would suffer "substantial competitive harm" if the terms of its deal with the governor were publicly disclosed.

So, class, let's review: A private corporation is funded by the state to give it a leg up on its local competitors, but it declares that it must be exempt form the state's public disclosure law in order to protect its competitive advantage. Are we clear now on the new definition of "free enterprise"?

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

George W. Bush, George Washington, Uzbekistan, Islam Karminov, Condi Rice, free enterprise, Cabalaís Inc., Rick Perry

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