The Hightower Report

The Workplace Body Snatchers; and Rummy Won't Go Away


New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is learning the hard way that workers don't like bosses snooping on them.

Hizzoner the Mayor has taken $180 million from the city's meager treasury to buy a state-of-the-art electronic system to track the comings and goings of city employees. He has already introduced the spy system in one agency, and it has created an uproar of protest, particularly over forcing employees to have their hands electronically scanned every time they enter or leave their work pods. Called biometrics, this system digitally records workers' hands, faces, irises, and other unique body parts, then uses their uniqueness to track them like sheep.

The mayor's spokesman says workers should be grateful, for this computerized system lets administrators monitor each employee's attendance, time, and leave more efficiently. Oh, well, OK then – if it's more efficient, feel free to take my handprint, or why not just implant an electronic tag in my brain? (Before you scoff at that last item, let me note that nurses in a Brooklyn hospital are already required to carry radio-frequency ID tags that allow all of their movements to be tracked.)

The mayor's wholesale invasion of workplace privacy is made more outrageous by the fact that top managers are exempt from the digital scanning. Also rankling is that this biometrics contract went to SAIC, a corporation infamous for doing high tech snooping on us citizens for the Pentagon and CIA.

We have to resist autocracy at every turn, especially when its only rationale is greater "efficiency." After all, in these modern times, the devil always does his work in the name of efficiency. So, stand up for what is yours – as one city worker says of Bloomberg's scheme, "The body of my person, which includes my palm, belongs to me, and me alone. It is private."


Old soldiers never die; they keep hanging on as consultants.

Actually, Donnie Rumsfeld was not a soldier – he just played war at the Pentagon, using real soldiers to work out his neocon, ideological fantasies about nation-building in the Mideast. And what a heck of a job he did! Some 3,000 Americans died on Rumsfeld's Iraq watch, some 22,000 have come home maimed, as many as 600,000 Iraqi civilians are dead, 2 million have had to flee their country, and the U.S. tab for this misadventure now totals at least $1.2 trillion.

Meanwhile, the Iraq economy is a nightmare, the so-called "constitutional democracy" that the Bushites fabricated is a joke, the Shiites and Sunnis are at each other's throats in a gruesome civil war, our soldiers are trapped in the nightmarish crossfire of that civil war, the country has largely become a theocracy aligned with Iran, Iraq is now a terrorist training ground, and America's moral reputation around the world has been reduced to rubble.

So, after voters emphatically rejected the Bushites' war folly in last year's elections – Rumsfeld was made to walk the political plank. But, wait – who's that skulking in the shadows of the Pentagon, clutching sheaves of top-secret papers? Why, it's Rummy! Supposedly, he was fired by Bush, but there he is in a government-provided office, working for the Pentagon as a "nonpaid consultant" – a status that lets him keep getting secret documents.

And he's not alone in his bunker. He has two military officers, two enlisted men, and three other staffers working for him – all paid by the Pentagon. Word is that Rumsfeld thinks he still has "a lot to contribute" to policy debates over new ideas for Iraq and national security.

If so, do it on your own dime! You've been fired, Rummy – don't go away mad, but please do go away.

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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Michael Bloomberg, biometrics, privacy, SAIC, Donald Rumsfeld, Iraq war, George W. Bush

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