The Hightower Report
Words for Wall Street Greed; and Corporatist Court Favors Mountaintop Destruction
Words for Wall Street Greed
Wow, y'all are prolific. And good.
I recently ran a little contest asking readers to come up with some new words to describe the abominable sense of self-entitlement that afflicts Wall Street bankers. I noted that such common pejoratives as "greedy" and "shameful" just don't cover the astonishing arrogance presently being flashed at us by the royal princes of high finance, so I sought your creativity for devising more appropriate terms.
You sent in a gusher of words, phrases – and lots of attitude. Quite a few offerings referred to body parts and bodily functions, usually involving four-letter words that are unusable here. On the other hand, some submissions were deceptively sweet, such as "piggy poos," which really does have sort of a nursery-rhyme sting to it.
Among the newly coined expressions were these jewels: "banksters," which beautifully captures the mobster aspect of the greed; "greasels," which combines greed and weasel; "leechengrubbers," which is described as bankers who suck the life out of us then turn around and beg us for bailouts; and "megalomoneyacs," which goes to the psychopathic aspect of those sorry souls.
Some readers chose action words to apply to the bankers, such as "criminal," "treasonous," and, "You're fired." Others needed lengthy phrases to capture their full fury, including these two: "unbridled bastards of mass deception" and "amoral rapacious financial terrorists." And one needed another language, Spanish, to nail the bankers, choosing "lacras," a deeply insulting term meaning that the Wall Streeters are low-life scum, unrepentant moochers trying to take everything for themselves.
Then there's one fellow who thought words were not enough: "I say just hang these scums."
Corporatist Court Favors Mountaintop Destruction
Once again, the black-robed corporatists of the federal courts have shown their true bias by ruling in favor of corporate power over common sense and the common good.
This time, the dirty deed was done by circuit court judges in Virginia (a group notoriously sycophantish to corporate interests). In a ruling long sought by the coal barons of Appalachia, a three-judge panel recently decided that the companies can proceed with a brutally destructive mining process that the industry euphemistically calls "mountaintop removal."
It works like this: To get at coal seams, companies explode the top third of beautiful, forest-covered Appalachian mountains; then they "remove" the rubble, not by taking it somewhere but by merrily bulldozing it down the sides of the decapitated mountain, burying the valleys, streams, wildlife, and everything else below.
Some 1,200 miles of streams have already been destroyed, and downstream drinking-water supplies have been contaminated. So, local advocates for the communities and environment went to court on the grounds that this is a rather obvious violation of the Clean Water Act. No, said the judges, refusing to compel King Coal to avoid burying streams or even to conduct thorough environmental reviews before exploding a mountain.
Luckily, these judges need not have the final say in deciding the fate of Appalachia's mountains, streams, and people. The Environmental Protection Agency – which literally was run by industry executives, lobbyists, and apologists during George W.'s regime – is under new management and can restore the protections that the Bushites gutted. In addition, Congress can and should rewrite the law to stop this madness once and for all.
To keep informed and lend a hand, go to www.stopmountaintopremoval.org.
Last week, Jim Hightower donated his personal archives to the Wittliff Collections at Texas State University-San Marcos. Known as the Hightower Papers, the archive includes photos, event posters, and other memorabilia in addition to handwritten notes and research from his columns, books, speeches, and radio commentaries. The Wittliff archivers have only just begun processing the more than 100 boxes Hightower handed over, so the collection won't be available for public viewing for several months.
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.