The Hightower Report

Make 'Em Shudder: Go Organic; and Rick Scott's Latest Fraud

Make 'Em Shudder: Go Organic

What's the No. 1 outdoor activity in America? Not baseball, soccer, jogging, or golf. Instead, it's gardening!

I happen to be part of this happy activity. Maintaining a small organic garden in my yard lets me dig in compost, rejoice at ripening tomatoes, clip fresh herbs – and devour the luscious results. So, when Michelle Obama recently planted an organic garden on the White House lawn, I joined gardeners and organic-food advocates all across the country in applauding this symbolic stand for good food, the environment, and common sense.

Not everyone joined in the joy, however. An outfit called the Mid America CropLife Association was in a full-tilt snit over this "first garden." MACA is the lobbying front for such pesticide purveyors as Monsanto, Dow, and DuPont – not a bunch that's simpatico with the organic movement. Indeed, MACA executives zipped out an alarmist notice to their members: "Did you hear the news?" they asked. "The White House is planning to have an 'organic' garden. ... The thought of it being organic made [us] shudder."

Well, they'd better get used to shuddering, for political leaders from coast to coast are getting on board with the good food movement. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, for example, is putting an organic garden on the National Mall to encourage visitors to plant their own back home. Also, governors and mayors – from Annapolis, Md., to Sacramento, Calif. – are vying with one another to put in the biggest and best organic gardens. In Baltimore, Mayor Sheila Dixon notes that her plot in front of City Hall is nearly twice as big as the White House garden.

Yes, these are symbolic gestures, but symbolism is a powerful tool for educating the public and affirming the virtues of local, sustainable, nonchemical food production. Spread the word.

Rick Scott's Latest Fraud

Our country's corporatized health-care system is so uncaring that 76% of Amer-icans tell pollsters it must be "fundamentally changed" or "completely rebuilt." But Rick Scott says uh-uh – what health care needs is more corporatization – and even Wal-Mart-ization.

Rick who? He's the ex-CEO of the massive Columbia/Hospital Corporation of America hospital chain and a laissez-fairyland zealot who is feverishly opposing President Barack Obama's health reform ideas.

I say "ex-CEO" because his profit-above-all-else approach to running Columbia ran it into a very deep ditch – and got him fired in 1997. Among his "health-care" tactics were overbilling Medicare, giving kickbacks to doctors who referred patients to his hospitals, and dangerously understaffing hospitals to cut costs. Columbia later pled guilty and paid $1.7 billion to settle fraud charges against it.

Yet, he's running TV ads and infomercials featuring him as a health-care "expert." Scott's ads attack Obama with that tired old bugaboo of "Government Run Health Care," and to coordinate his attack, he has hired the same PR hacks who ran the infamous Swift Boat Veterans assault on John Kerry in 2004.

Scott's television blitz features theatrical horror stories of "socialized medicine," direly warning that this is Obama's plan. Only ... it isn't. Not even close. Private doctors, nurses, and others of our choosing would continue to provide our health care. The change that Obama seeks is merely in how we pay these practitioners. By offering a new "public option," we'd have the choice of sticking with an insurance corporation or buying into a public insurance pool.

This disgraced ex-CEO is flailing ridiculously at the straw man of government-run health care – which no one has even proposed. To keep posted on Rick Scott's latest fraud, go to www.healthcareforamericanow.org.

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

organic, Mid American CropLife Association, Monsanto, Dow, DuPont, Rick Scott, health care, Barack Obama, Swift Boat

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