The Hightower Report

Professor Bush's Economic Nostrum; and Fran's Travels


On this Labor Day, when working families all across America are struggling, it's fitting for us to reflect on the profound insight of that prominent economic theorist George W. Bush. In 2000, explaining his approach to economic policy, W. declared: "We ought to make the pie higher."

What the professor was trying to express is the old theory that by baking a larger pie, everyone can get a bigger slice. But that theory ignores a special trick of economic pie-making that Bush baked right into his policy: Greed. Yes, the pie is now larger, but Bush simply fattened the slices of the corporate powers and the rich, leaving the majority of folks trying to get by on the same slim pickings they had before … or less.

Today, corporate profits are surging, CEO pay is skyrocketing, purchases of luxury goods and oceanfront property is zooming – but the income of workers is not even keeping up with inflation. Well, now, wait a minute, say the Bushites; we've been creating thousands of new jobs. So, see, trickle-down economics really does work.

Hold it, greed breath. First, you've been losing jobs, too. In fact, Bush is the first president since Herbert Hoover to produce a net loss of jobs during his term. Second, and most important, the issue is not jobs. Think about it: Even slaves had jobs. The issue is income … wages … middle-class opportunities. Ask a waitress at any cafe or bar if she's aware that Bush has been creating new jobs, and she'll say: "Yeah, I know. I have three of them."

In terms of buying power, average wages today are lower than what they were when Nixon was president. Under professor Bush, America's economy is producing more low-wage, service sector jobs, while shipping out the manufacturing and high tech jobs that offer our people middle-class wages and the opportunity for upward mobility.

Instead of trickle-down, America needs a grassroots policy of percolate-up economics.


Where's Fran? Let's see, if it's Thursday, Fran must be in Yosemite … or is it the Everglades?

Fran Mainella has been the director of the National Park Service since 2001, when George W. brought her up from Florida, where she had been head of brother Jeb's parks division. In her five-year tenure at NPS, she has presided over a shameful deterioration in the condition of our cherished system of parks, seashores, monuments, and other treasures. Budget shortfalls and a steadily growing backlog of postponed repairs have left our once-shining parks with such dark problems as closed trails, leaky lodges, reduced staff, shortened hours, and curtailed services.

Not that Fran hasn't been busy. In fact, she's been on the move nonstop, setting a record as the most-traveled parks director ever. Bush's anti-government ideologues have been the ones really calling the shots at NPS, so, left out of the loop, Mainella literally has been traveling the outer loop, jaunting hither, thither, and yon to meet her ambitious goal of visiting every single one of the 390 units in America's park system.

So many parks, so little time. Park staffers, constantly asked to do more with less, mock her road show as "Fran's Hops and Stops." In 2004, irate lawmakers scolded her for a travel budget that had mushroomed to some $44 million. But Mainella, by now a junket junkie, just kept moving, even hiring a special "scheduling coordinator" to plan her travels "minute-by-minute."

Finally, having flitted in and out of about 250 parks, Fran's Last Ride is not long off. Like a road-weary tourist, she is resigning and plans to return to Florida, presumably with a trunk full of snapshots of all the fabulous places she's visited.

Fran Mainella is a perfect symbol of Bush's incompetent government, which substitutes frenetic motion for progress.

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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George W. Bush, George W. Bush, Herbert Hoover, CEOs, minimum wage, Fran Mainella, National Park Service, Jeb Bush

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