The Hightower Report

Stealing Local Democratic Authority; and Grounding Our High-Flying Congress


STEALING LOCAL DEMOCRATIC AUTHORITY

Have you been pre-empted yet?

You probably don't know it, but chances are that your state legislature either already has passed or is considering laws to steal an important level of local authority from you and the other folks in your city, town, or county. The present focus of this pre-emption power grab is on local governments around the country that have been responding (as they should) to the corporate effort to contaminate our food supply with genetically modified organisms.

These GMOs literally alter the DNA of the food we put in our family's mouths, including transferring animal genes into fruits and veggies. There has been no long-term testing of the human and environmental impacts of these Frankenfoods, yet the federal government has meekly let Monsanto, and a few other purveyors of genetically manipulated seeds, put this stuff into our food supply – without even having to label the foodstuffs as having GMOs in them.

Consumers, farmers, environmentalists, and other sane people don't want the Monsantos to use us as their guinea pigs, so they have already gotten more than 100 local governments to ban GMO crops within their area. This has infuriated the corporate powers, who have spent tons of money to defeat these local bans ... but lost. So, for the last couple of years, they've been sneaking off to state legislatures to pass laws (often with no debate) that take away our local control over this health issue.

To date, 14 states have stripped this democratic decision-making power from local people – and corporate lobbyists are moving to take it away from local governments everywhere.

No matter how you feel about GMOs in your food, this orchestrated corporate-power grab is stealing the fundamental right of our communities to protect our families' health and shape our own future. To learn what's happening in your state, call Environmental Commons: 707/884-5002.


GROUNDING OUR HIGH-FLYING CONGRESS

When you need to fly somewhere for business or pleasure, how would you like to take off whenever you choose, avoid the hassle of airport security, never have to change planes, enjoy a plush leather seat, and eat four-star food?

It's all yours – if you're a member of Congress. A little-mentioned perk of congressional life is that an air force of corporate jets is available to zip Congress critters around the country. BellSouth, U.S. Tobacco, RJ Reynolds, and FedEx are among the frequent fliers, transporting lawmakers in luxurious style for only a fraction of what the trips actually cost the corporations.

In addition to providing ease of travel and tasty edibles, the corporation also graciously provides a traveling companion: the corporate lobbyist. Thus, each trip becomes an exclusive, encapsulated schmooze opportunity for a lobbyist to be up close and personal with someone who writes America's laws.

Amazingly, a FedEx lobbyist denies that these flights give corporations undue access to Congress members. "They get on the airplane, and they either read or sleep," says the lobbyist. "They don't want to talk to anyone from FedEx." Really? So why go?

Others are more honest. "You can sit down and have a cocktail and talk casually about a matter," confides a veteran influence peddler. And BellSouth's lobbyist adds that a congressional flight "gives us an opportunity to form relationships, to have a long stretch of time to explain issues. ... If it wasn't useful, we wouldn't do it."

And you wonder why Congress keeps siding with corporate interests, rather than the public interest? Hey, say the lobbyists, it's a free country – if regular folks expect to get a break from Congress, they can offer plane rides, too.

Senators Russ Feingold and John McCain want to stop this corrupt practice. To learn more, call Feingold's office: 202/224-5323.

For more information on Jim Hightower's work - and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown - visit www.jimhightower.com

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

genetically modified organisms, local control, Monsanto, Environmental Commons, corporate, Congress, BellSouth, U.S. Tobacco, RJ Reynolds, FedEx, corporate lobbyists, Russ Feingold, John McCain

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