The Hightower Report
Save the Billionaires; and Monsanto Takes a Tumble
Save the Billionaires
Look out – they're angry. Foaming-at-the-mouth angry. And they're lashing out, saying they won't take it anymore. As one of their leaders angrily cried, "It's a war." Indeed – they're on the move to take their country back.
Forget the tea party rowdies; this is the Champagne party! More precisely, it's the Dom Pérignon $1,000-a-bottle party, propelled by – get this – billionaire's rage.
Yes, some of the richest, most pampered people on the planet – people who wallow in luxury every day with never a concern about losing a job, a home, health care, or getting their kids into college – are wailing in self-pity. They are Wall Street hedge fund operators, which essentially means they are high-flying financial flimflammers. What has stoked them into an elitist fury is an Obama proposal to close off a ridiculous tax loophole that has let them pay only 15% of their lavish income in taxes, rather than the 35% rate that we commoners pay.
One of the richest of the ragers, Stephen Schwarzman of the Blackstone Group, sees Obama's proposal as an outrageous intrusion into the suites of the elite, comparing it to "when Hitler invaded Poland." This over-the-top tantrum is from a multibillionaire – a guy who spent $3 million in 2007 to throw himself a birthday party! Come on, Steve, pay your taxes!
Pathetically, the real root of this sad Hedge Fund Rebellion is the feeling perceived by these powerful, superprivileged megalomaniacs that they are being picked on. One even whined that asking hedge funders to pay taxes at the same rate as everyone else amounts to the "persecution of the minority."
Good grief, man, get a grip! Next thing you know, these doofuses will hire Glenn Beck to host a weepy telethon to "Save the Billionaires' Tax Loophole."
Monsanto Takes a Tumble
Poor Monsanto – the mighty and haughty manipulator of Mother Nature has tripped on its own hubris, falling far, fast, and hard this year.
The biotech and chemical giant has reaped huge profits by messing with the very DNA of the world's food supply. During the past couple of decades, Monsanto has become the Dr. Frankenstein of agriculture, taking genetic parts of one or more species and engineering them into another. The corporation literally creates a living profit center for itself inside the mutant seeds it engineers for corn, soybeans, and other food staples. Its specialty has been to alter plants so they can withstand heavy doses of an herbicide manufactured by – guess who? – Monsanto.
This kind of techno-gimmickry dazzled Wall Street speculators for a while. Monsanto stock soared to $140 a share in 2008, and in 2009 this darling of investors was named "company of the year" by Forbes magazine.
But farmers have found the altered seed ridiculously expensive and less beneficial than advertised, and the herbicide that Monsanto sells with the seed is not effective because weeds have already developed a resistance to it. Meanwhile, the Justice Department is investigating the corporation's antitrust activities, and global opponents of genetically tampered crops have been scoring victories in the fight to stop their spread.
Monsanto's response to this rejection of its crop wizardry has been to double down on wizardry. Its new corn seed, for example, has not one but eight altered genes in it! But farmers aren't buying the mumbo jumbo, and Wall Street has pushed Monsanto's stock price down by two-thirds. As one market analyst now says, "This may be the worst stock of 2010."
To keep track of Monsanto's manipulations, go to www.organicconsumers.org.