10 episodes

National radio commentator, writer, public speaker, co-editor of the monthly "Hightower Lowdown" and author of "Thieves In High Places: They've Stolen Our Country And It's Time to Take It Back," Jim Hightower has spent three decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be -- consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses, and just-plain-folks.

Jim Hightower's Radio Lowdown Jim Hightower

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National radio commentator, writer, public speaker, co-editor of the monthly "Hightower Lowdown" and author of "Thieves In High Places: They've Stolen Our Country And It's Time to Take It Back," Jim Hightower has spent three decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be -- consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses, and just-plain-folks.

    What’s the Weirdest Species of All?

    What’s the Weirdest Species of All?

    What’s the Weirdest Species of All?
    I love those nature shows that probe the behavior and intelligence of birds, elephants, and other fellow creatures.
    However, there’s one exotic critter the shows have ignored, and it’s crying out for analysis: Humanoid super-richinoids. While some in this rare species seem like normal homo sapiens, as a group the super-richinoids exhibit aberrant, destructive tendencies. In particular, an insatiable desire to accumulate boundless personal wealth, as if one’s net worth is one’s true worth. They view life as a primal competition to be No. 1, the richest of all!
    Robert Frank, an analyst of plutocracy, points to the insane competitive zealotry of Larry Ellison, the multibillionaire co-founder of Oracle. Frank writes that when Ellison learned that a rival billionaire was having a 400-foot yacht built (a boat one-third bigger than a football field!), Ellison rushed out to get a 450-foot yacht.
    Toys are one thing, but the ueberrich tend to feel entitled to exploit rank and file workers, crush smaller competitors, pay no taxes, rip-off consumers, defraud investors, contaminate our environment, buy elections, monopolize markets – and demand to be publicly celebrated and idolized.
    But when poked, these wannabe demigods turn into wimps! Now that their freakish greed is being denounced by the American majority and politicians of both parties, the royals are squealing like pigs stuck in a fence. Their hubris is being openly mocked – and I suspect that their whimpering is due to their finally realizing that their bloated net worth can’t buy respect… and they can’t handle that reality.
    We’ve got to quit celebrating and catering to these flighty corporate profiteers, and get back to building a real economy based on the productivity and true genius of America’s grassroots entrepreneurs and workers.
    “Attack of the Wall Street Snowflakes,” The New York Times, November 11, 2019.
    “The Idle Rich? They Wish,” The New York Times, October 20, 2019.

    • 2 min
    What car do billionaires ride in?

    What car do billionaires ride in?

    I’m guessing that being rich is a comfortable feeling – no money worries, you’re set for life!
    But is it possible that too rich can be too much, even discombobulating? Imagine being Mark Zuckerberg, whose social media monopoly, Facebook, put another $27.3-billion in his pocket last year. Forget fundamental questions about whether he (or anyone) is worthy of such an excessive haul of the world’s wealth – how do you spend it? Mansions, yachts, jets, jewels, a Picasso painting, your personal island, and other trinkets barely dent your multibillionous windfall. And since the Trumpeteers drastically slashed your taxes, far less of your extraordinarily-good fortune is diverted to public need and America’s common good.
    Thus, the bulk of your booty goes to making you even richer! You buy out other corporations and advanced technologies, and you dump billions into Wall Street, artificially jacking up the price of stocks you own. Your wealth expands exponentially, inequality spreads, and the egalitarian ideals that hold our huge, diverse society together are stretched to the breaking point.
    Interestingly, more and more ueber-rich individuals are comprehending the ultimate consequences of such extreme selfishness, so they’re responding with extreme consumerism. Specifically, they’ve created a boom in the sale of maximum-security, James Bondish armored vehicles. Priced in the half-million-dollar range, these rolling fortresses can come with 700-horsepower engines, tailpipe-to-grille anti-blast protection, door handles that can electrocute intruders, roof-mounted gun turrets, and room for 10 fully-equipped bodyguards.
    With names like Marauder and Black Shark, these armored beasts have become the preferred ride of gabillionaires – not to flaunt their fortunes, but to fend off the masses they’ve ripped off.
    “This is how Facebook collects data on you even if you don’t have an account,” Vox, April 20, 2018.
    “How Facebook makes money from your data, in Mark Zuckerberg’s words,” Business Insider, April 11, 2018.
    “The market for bulletproof vehicles is skyrocketing,” Austin American Statesman, November 4, 2019.
    “Market grows for bulletproof cars,” NBC News, February 7, 2019.
    “Exclusive: The World’s First Bulletproof Bentley SUV Includes Optional Smokescreen And Shocking Door Handles,” Forbes, August 28, 2019.
    “Best Armored Vehicles Money Can Buy,” CarBuzz, January 17, 2019.
    “A Revived Relic Hides the Wealthy From Prying Eyes,” The New York Times, December 25, 2019.

    • 2 min
    How do the rich become uber-rich?

    How do the rich become uber-rich?

    As Ray Charles wailed in a song of true-life blues: “Them that’s got is them that gets/And I ain’t got nothin’ yet.”
    While the workaday majority of Americans continue to be mired in our low-wage economy, the precious few at the tippy-top soared out of sight in 2019. They started the year wallowing in wealth – but by year’s end, the 500 richest people saw their total haul increase by an average of $2.4-billion each! Indeed, some needed bulldozers to bank their increased wealth. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, for example, piled up an extra $27-billion last year; Bill Gates of Microsoft added $22-billion to his stash; and even though Amazon czar Jeff Bezos dropped $9-billion last year in a divorce settlement, his fortune multiplied so much that he’s still the world’s richest person.
    Bear in mind that none of these moneyed elites did anything to earn these extraordinary bonanzas. They didn’t work any harder, didn’t get smarter, didn’t add anything of value to society. They simply reclined in luxury and let their money make money. That’s a dirty little secret of our rigged economic system – unfettered inequality begets ever-expanding inequality.
    Another dirty little secret is that billionaire-ism is hereditary. Right-wing media baron Rupert Murdoch, for example, doled out $10-billion to his six children last year. So – voila! – thus were born six brand-spanking-new baby billionaires, who did nothing to reach the top of the world’s financial heap, except please daddy.
    Not only are the rich different from you and me, but the filthy rich are also different from the merely rich. It can take hard work, creativity, perseverance, and luck to become a millionaire, but in today’s skewed wealth system, multibillionaires don’t need any of that – their money does all the work to lift them above everyone else.
    “World’s richest gain $1.2 trillion in 2019,” Austin American Statesman, December 28, 2019.
    “Beneath Economic Gloss, 2020 Democrats See A Struggling Working Class,” New York Times, December 30, 2019.

    • 2 min
    America’s healthcare border raiders

    America’s healthcare border raiders

    While Donald Trump fans the embers of xenophobia in our country by demonizing caravans of desperate Latinos headed north from Central America, there are other northern-bound caravans he doesn’t mention.
    These are US citizens crossing our northern border into Canada, seeking relief from the profiteering cartels that run our country’s predatory health system. Specifically, these people are among the millions of Americans who’ve literally been sickened by the price gouging of pharmaceutical giants.
    For example, the Washington Post reports that from 2012 to 2016, drug makers have nearly doubled the US price of life-saving insulin. It’s a massive highway robbery that Trump & Company ignore, even though it creates a financial strain so severe that many patients try cheating death by skipping some dosages – an always dangerous gamble.
    Outraged and desperate, many diabetics and their families are taking matters into their own hands by making cross-border drug runs into towns just north of the US-Canadian line. They’re drawn there by Canada’s single-payer healthcare system, which protects consumers from price-gouging. As the Post reported, one small group of Minnesotans recently caravanned from their home into an Ontario border town where they could buy a supply of insulin for about $1,200 – versus the $12,000 they would’ve been charged in the US.
    Good for them, but why should anyone in our incomparably-rich nation have to make border raids to get essential healthcare? As the organizer of this Minnesota caravan put it: “When you have a bad healthcare system, it makes good people feel like outlaws. It’s demeaning. It’s demoralizing. It’s unjust.”
    We the People must rise up, organize, and mobilize to make healthcare profiteering unacceptable, illegal… and indeed, unAmerican.
    “As price of insulin soars, Americans caravan to Canada for lifesaving medicine,” Washington Post, June 16, 2019.

    • 2 min
    The other Mexican migration

    The other Mexican migration

    You probably haven’t heard about it, but there’s another mass migration coming across the US-Mexico border. However, these are not Central American families fleeing horrific conditions back home – only to be separated, incarcerated, traumatized, and demonized by the Trump Gang for seeking humanitarian asylum in our country.
    Rather, these migrants are going the other way, from the USA into Mexican border towns, where they’re welcomed with open arms instead of armed guards. They are mostly working-class people seeking relief from our nation’s unaffordable, no-care healthcare system. As many as 6,000 a day travel to towns like Los Algodones, across from Yuma, Arizona, to get medical services and prescription drugs that are priced out of their reach here in the US. Nicknamed “Molar City,” Los Algodones has more dentists per capita than anywhere else in the world – quality dental work in Mexico averages two-thirds less than it costs here.
    This is because the health system there prioritizes care over profits. Start with professional education, which is tuition-free in Mexico, meaning dentists and other healthcare providers don’t have to jack-up prices to cover a crushing load of student debt. Also, Mexico’s universal, tax-paid healthcare system doesn’t saddle patients with exorbitantly-expensive, insurance bureaucracies. It’s a system that’s open, affordable, and accessible to all – the opposite of ours, which is why hordes of US working-class people go south to find care. As a Truthout article reports, “US citizens seeking healthcare can park in Yuma for $5, walk across the border, get the help they need and come back for dinner.”
    Instead of building a senseless border wall to keep people out of the US, our leaders ought to be looking across the border for ideas on how to build a better healthcare system.
    “Millions of Americans Flood Into Mexico for Health Care – the Human Caravan You Haven’t Heard About,” https://truthout.org/articles/millions-of-americans-flood-into-mexico-for-health-care/, January 23, 2019.
    “A Reason To Smile: Mexican Town Is A Destination For Dental Tourism,” https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2014/06/09/318212444/a-reason-to-smile-mexican-town-is-a-destination-for-dental-tourism, June 9, 2014.
    “Mexico Dentist Prices – The Ultimate Guide,” https://sanidentalgroup.com/blog/mexico-dentist-prices/, January 26, 2019.

    • 2 min
    How to get Congress to reform our broken healthcare system

    How to get Congress to reform our broken healthcare system

    For $3.5 Trillion a year, shouldn’t we Americans have a world-class healthcare system? Yet, while we spend the most of any advanced nation in the world to get care (more than $10,000 a year per person), we get the worst results.
    Get the full commentary here.

    • 2 min

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