The Austin Chronicle

The Hightower Report

By Jim Hightower, June 24, 2005, News


You think you're the only one who's having a rough time in today's economy, Bucko? It's time you started thinking about someone else ... such as the rich.

Yeah, the rich. Too few Americans give any thought to the hardships of those at the top. Consider something as basic as the sheer physical burden of carrying all that moola around – the backbreaking weight of their wallets and purses, for example. And it probably never occurs to you that those big diamond earrings and gold necklaces can pull you down by the end of the day.

Yeah, yeah, we hear you working stiffs whining all the time about how your paychecks aren't even keeping up with inflation, but stop for a moment and think about the opposite problem. CEOs, for example, already weighted down with personal wealth, have just had another load dumped on them. The pay of the top corporate executives rose by 12.6% last year, averaging nearly $10 million each. And that does not include their stock payments, which can easily double the weight of their total sack.

Look at the burden of E. Stanley O'Neal, the big dog at Merrill Lynch. In addition to his salary and bonus, he was given $31 million worth of corporate stock payments. Come on – that's piling on the poor guy! Or Richard Kovacevich at Wells Fargo, who not only had to shoulder a $7.5 million bonus, but also stock payments of $20 million. Imagine having to haul that load home.

It would be next to impossible for these guys to bear up under such a load, except that, luckily, they're given chauffeured limousines to carry it away. There are also the golf club memberships, the corporate retreat in the South Pacific, the daily rubdown by the executive-suite masseuse, and other free perks to help make the burden tolerable. It's a mighty hard row to hoe, but someone has to do it.

So when you see the elites floating away in their yachts while you're barely treading water, before you get angry, take a moment to feel their pain.


Whoa! The religious extremists are on a white-hot tear, aren't they?

From George W.'s election, to Terri Schiavo, to federal judge nominees, such

zealots as James Dobson and Pat Robertson are flexing their political muscle, seeking to impose their Republican "Christianity" on all public policy.

They're particularly intent at the moment on "saving marriage." Curiously, this holy crusade includes Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich, two serial divorcers and enthusiastic practitioners of extramarital sex. But it's not divorce that worries these marriage saviors – they're opposing marriage itself ... when that union is between gay people. We're doing the will of God, they thunder, pointing to the Holy Word in Leviticus 18:22, which declared homosexuality an "abomination." We are not moral relativists, they cry, but biblical literalists.

Wait, though the wrath of Leviticus is deep and wide, chapter 11, verse 10, tells us that eating shellfish is also an abomination. And, in 11:6-8, so is touching anything made of pigskin – someone call the NFL! Leviticus 19 says that planting two different crops in the same field is forbidden by God – yet George W.'s department of agriculture openly promotes this abomination, calling it "companion-planting." Let's hope the USDA at least insists that those seeds be heterosexual.

Speaking of Bush, he's known to have a hot temper and to burst out occasionally with curse words. Does he know that Leviticus 24:10-16 commands that if a person blasphemes God with curse words, the whole town must come together and stone that person? Wouldn't that put the Secret Service in a biblical bind?

The problem for extremists who insist that every word of the Bible must be accepted literally is that they then can't pick and choose which scriptures must be obeyed. I suspect they spend more time thumping the Bible than reading it ... much less understanding it.

Copyright © 2021 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.