I just heard Jim Hightower, the progressive author, national radio commentator and political agitator from Austin, Texas, speak at the Veteran’s Memorial Park Bandshell in Bettendorf, Iowa. It was his sixth Iowa stop in the last two days on his “Sensible Priorities” tour arranged by Iowans for Sensible Priorities.
As always he had a lot of funny lines. “This administration sees themselves as the top dogs and us as a bunch of fire hydrants.” Of Dick Cheney – “a million sperm and you were the fastest?!?” When Rumsfeld called critics of the Iraq War the “blame America first crowd,” Hightower responds, “No, we are not blaming America. We are blaming you.” And a bunch more that I can not remember now. (I should have taken notes.)
But the thing he said that really struck me was during the question and answer period. Someone asked about the private contractors doing military operations in Iraq without any of the oversight, accountability or military justice that our soldiers operate under. Jim Hightower pointed out that a corporation operates in many respects exactly the opposite to how a democratically elected government should behave. A government should be open and democratic. A corporation is secretive and hierarchical. A democratic government’s highest priority should be the public good and the greatest benefit to the greatest number of people. The corporation operates only for the benefit of a small number of wealthy stockholders. And yet the current Administration’s stated goal is to run the government more like a business. And they have, much to our detriment.
All of our recent presidents have run the government for the benefit of the corporations. Ronald Reagan, Bush the elder, Bill Clinton, even Jimmy Carter. But with this Administration the corporations have actually moved into the White House. They are all corporate executives - George Bush (although a failed one), Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleeza Rice.