BY JIM HIGHTOWER
In keeping with the Biblical adage that it’s better to give than to receive, I came up with a delightful sleighful of holiday goodies this year to dispense to some of our nation’s most special people.
It was not easy to shop for these folks. I mean, what do you get for members of Congress, since they already have pretty much everything? Finally, though, I thought of the perfect one-size-fits-all gift solution for each of our 535 lawmakers.
I sent my fondest wish that from now on they receive the exact same level of annual income, health coverage and pension that the typical American gets. No more, no less.
I realize that this will require a bit of downsizing for our legislative stalwarts, since the majority of Americans are paid under $33,000 a year, as opposed to the current congressional salary of $169,300. Also, most people’s health-care plans don’t cover anything that ends in “itus,” and their 401[k]s have dropped in value to approximately 1[k]s.
Still, I’m sure that each member of Congress will find spiritual comfort in knowing that they’re truly “one of the people.” Besides, if they have to live like their constituents, I’ll bet they’ll find a new political passion for policies that raise everyone’s standard of living.
Then came our banker friends – the CEOs of Citigroup, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and all the other Wall Street barons who devised exotic Ponzi schemes that profited a few global investors before crashing our economy. You might assume that they should get no holiday gift at all, since Washington has already handed them nearly $8 trillion in taxpayer bailout money. But it occurred to me that there is one thing they’ve not received that is long overdue: pink slips!
Having made such a financial mess of their own companies and of our country’s economic health, why are they still on the job?
Far from being penitent, some have even been using bailout funds to feather their own nests with multimillion-dollar paychecks and perks. If they can’t be sent to jail, let’s at least retire these people to the confines of their mansions, where they can do no more harm to the public.
Who knows – maybe with time for reflection, some might even grow a conscience and do something restorative, such as volunteering with Habitat for Humanity to help a few of the families ruined by Wall Street’s machinations.
George W., Dick Cheney and Karl Rove are three others deserving of our thoughts – especially after what they’ve put the country through during the past eight years. From instituting torture to conducting a war of lies, they’ve tried to impose an autocratic rule of executive supremacy on our land.
Handcuffs seemed an appropriate gift for this swaggering threesome, but that would hardly be in keeping with the spirit of the season. So, finally, I settled on leather-bound copies of “Constitutional Law for Dummies.” This tome could come in handy for them in future months, as investigative committees and grand juries begin to review their White House files. As an extra plus, Bush could use his copy as a starter book for his new, secretly funded presidential library.
Finally, I did not forget President-elect Barack Obama. What a job he’s walking into!
Coping with restoration of the middle class, redirection of energy policy, repairing America’s infrastructure, withdrawal from Iraq and so much more, he’s going to need all the strength he can muster. Especially difficult will be the necessity to push aside the forces of “no” that will swarm him in Washington – ranging from 13,000 corporate lobbyists to don’t-rock-the-boat, business-as-usual politicians in his own party.
So, I sent a jumbo glue gun to him, filled with Elmer’s Super Glue, so he can give himself a periodic shot to stiffen his spine. Of course, the real glue he’ll need is the political energy of grassroots folks to back him up, so he can stand up firmly for the people’s interest.
– Jim Hightower’s columns appear regularly in The Oklahoma Observer