Jim Hightower’s Radio Lowdown

Why Would We Let Wall Street “Care For” Our Pets?

Question: What does a packet of M&M’s and your local veterinarian have in common? Answer: Both are owned by Mars Inc., the global candy monopolist. Since the 1980s, we’ve seen massive consolidations in industry after industry – from airlines to newspapers, the internet to candy. These monopolists run roughshod over consumers, workers, communities, suppliers, and our nation’s commitment to the Common Good. And now the corporate attitude seems to be, “what the Hell, why not let monopolization go to the dogs?” This change has been led by “private equity groups.” They are corporate-takeover sharks that borrow billions of dollars to buy out, plunder, then sell off the remnants of established businesses. They target enterprises that can be grabbed on the cheap but have assets like a loyal customer base. Then the sharks raise prices on those customers while cutting staff and quality of service. This has been happening to thousands of local vet practices and hospitals, which have quietly been plucked by Wall Street entities bearing non-descript acronyms like IVC, JAB, KKR, and VCA. At first locals don’t notice the takeover, because the corporate outfit not only buys your friendly “Dr. Barry Bones” vet service, they also buy the Doc’s name. As an IVC takeover consultant confided: “People like to take their dog to local vets and not feel like it’s a corporate machine.” But increasingly, it is. Solo practitioners who became veterinarians to provide friendly, community-based service now must answer to bean counters at headquarters – and, foremost, they must serve profit over animals. Veterinary Center of America (VCA), for example, is one of the most aggressive monopolizers, controlling access to and prices charged by 1,000+ vet facilities in 43 states. In 2017, VCA was taken over by Mars Inc. One feisty group battling monopolizers is the National Veterinary Professionals Union – Get info at natvpu.org.

The Corporatization of Pet Care: Animal Cruelty?

For many people, the animals they adopt and love become more like family members than pets. We have deep relationships, with cats, dogs, parrots, goats, horses, and other fellow critters – who at least pretend to love us back, providing comfort and joy all around. Sadly though, life for all of us animals is a spin around the wheel of fortune, so illness and injuries happen. That’s why one of the most valued members of every community are the staffers in our local veterinarian office. Practically all vets, nurses, technicians, and support staff are there chiefly because they love animals and get personal satisfaction from providing care for them. When I say they are “there,” I not only mean 9 to 5, but this group of independent health providers are committed to being there when needed – including off hours and days off, for animal misfortune and suffering don’t go by clocks and calendars. Local practitioners also try to be there for low-income people, offering deferred payment plans and even discounted fees so their animals can get the treatment they need. But wait – sound the ambulance sirens! Something is going horribly wrong! This venerable profession has recently been collapsing into a corporate model of Wall Street owned chains. They are monopolizing markets, reducing staff, gutting service, and prioritizing the love of money over the love of animals. It’s not uncommon these days for franticly-worried customers to bring an ill or injured pet into their old reliable vet office only to find it has quietly come under chain ownership, is understaffed, and is unwilling to accept the patient, forcing a desperate scramble to find emergency care, often out of town. This is Jim Hightower saying... The same profiteering corporate mentality that has proven disastrous for human health care is now rapidly locking down pet care – and that’s an act of animal cruelty.

The Embarrassment of Modern Corporate Managers

What makes a newspaper great? Many say it’s having street-savvy reporters and editors with the integrity to shine the light of investigative journalism on the power structure’s abuses. But, no, says Fred Ryan, top executive of the Washington Post – the secret is attendance. Ryan, a corporate manager and former Ronald Reagan staffer, was handpicked to be CEO of the legendary paper by Jeff Bezos in 2014, when the Amazon billionaire bought the Post. But on Ryan’s watch, readership is in decline, which he blames on newsroom sluggards who don’t spend enough time in the office. So, he’s become the hall monitor, measuring reporters’ productivity by their office attendance. Fred seems unaware that a good reporter’s real work is out on the beat, not sitting in front of a computer. No doubt he would’ve fired Woodward and Bernstein for being out of the office so often to meet with Deep Throat to uncover Nixon’s Watergate scandal. In Fairness, though, he apparently has a 2-part plan to boost team spirit: (1) Eliminate 100 reporters, and (2) judge the output of those remaining by counting the number of video conferences they attend each week. But that’s hardly the totality of Ryan’s innovations. The big news is that he’s hired not one, but two, high-dollar PR firms to create a cutting edge “branding strategy” for the Post. Already they’ve come up with a spiffy new corporate slogan: “We don’t just break news. We break ground.” Wow – how great is that? (Never mind that some wags have changed the second line to, “We break wind”). When overpaid incompetents like Ryan substitute slogans and computer metrics for real solutions, they’re admitting that they are the problem – that they simply don’t know how to motivate and manage a creative workforce. They should resign in embarrassment.

Looking for older commentaries?

You’ll find them over on the Hightower Lowdown now, in the radio archives. Note: we post new episodes there on Tuesdays and Thursdays; however, some radio stations around the country air Hightower’s commentaries on their own schedule.


 


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Meet Jim Hightower.

Looking for photos and more of Hightower? Check out the media kit.

National radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and New York Times best-selling author, Jim Hightower has spent four 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.

Twice elected Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Hightower believes that the true political spectrum is not right to left but top to bottom, and he has become a leading national voice for the 80 percent of the public who no longer find themselves within shouting distance of the Washington and Wall Street powers at the top.

Hightower is a modern-day Johnny Appleseed, spreading the message of progressive populism all across the American grassroots.

He broadcasts daily radio commentaries that are carried in more than 150 commercial and public stations, on the web, and on Radio for Peace International.

Every month he pens a rousing newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown, that blasts through the corporate media blockade to lend new reporting and populist perspective on the events of the day.

A popular public speaker who is fiery and funny, he is a populist road warrior who delivers more than 100 speeches a year to all kinds of groups.

He is a New York Times best-selling author, and has written seven books including, Thieves In High Places: They’ve Stolen Our Country And It’s Time To Take It Back; If the Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates; and There’s Nothing In the Middle Of the Road But Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos. His newspaper column is distributed nationally by Creators Syndicate.

Hightower frequently appears on television and radio programs, bringing a hard-hitting populist viewpoint that rarely gets into the mass media. In addition, he works closely with the alternative media, and in all of his work he keeps his ever-ready Texas humor up front, practicing the credo of an old Yugoslavian proverb: “You can fight the gods and still have fun.”

Hightower was raised in Denison, Texas, in a family of small business people, tenant farmers, and working folks. A graduate of the University of North Texas, he worked in Washington as legislative aide to Sen. Ralph Yarborough of Texas; he then co-founded the Agribusiness Accountability Project, a public interest project that focused on corporate power in the food economy; and he was national coordinator of the 1976 “Fred Harris for President” campaign. Hightower then returned to his home state, where he became editor of the feisty biweekly, The Texas Observer. He served as director of the Texas Consumer Association before running for statewide office and being elected to two terms as Texas Agriculture Commissioner (1983-1991).

During the 90’s, Hightower became known as “America’s most popular populist,” developing his radio commentaries, hosting two radio talk shows, writing books, launching his newsletter, giving fiery speeches coast to coast, and otherwise speaking out for the American majority that’s being locked out economically and politically by the elites.

As political columnist Molly Ivins said, “If Will Rogers and Mother Jones had a baby, Jim Hightower would be that rambunctious child — mad as hell, with a sense of humor.”

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    Books

    Swim Against the Current (2008)

    Swim Against the CurrentThe New York Times bestselling author and America’s funniest activist gives the lowdown on how to put up-not shut up-in the fight for our future.

    Hightower, the country’s #1 populist, has picked up some useful advice over the years, from “never eat at a café featuring ‘bargain kebobs'” to “never hit a man with glasses; hit him with something much heavier.” As he and his longtime co-conspirator Susan DeMarco have rambled through grassroots America, however, they’ve also come up with more serious words of wisdom to share here, namely: question authority, trust your values, seek alternatives, break away, stand up for your beliefs, and swim against the current!

    Their book introduces readers to people across the country who have actually done this-people in business, politics, health care, farming, religion, and other areas who are taking charge, living their values, doing good, and doing well. Hightower and DeMarco show how they are doing precisely what the elites want us to believe can’t be done: changing their lives and making a difference. He tells the stories of these people and offers inspiration and information that will help readers tap into their own maverick potential in order to navigate a different, more satisfying course of their own.

    Whether they are young and just starting out or older and searching for a different path, the commonsense folks in this book have escaped the corporate tentacles to find their own way toward a richer life and a better American future. They are creating a new, deeply democratic model for the country, edging it back onto the long road toward egalitarianism and the common good.

    Hightower and DeMarco are at their contrarian, sharp-witted, and straight-shooting best as they celebrate the triumph of grassroots gumption over the tight-fisted grip of corporate control.

    Thieves in High Places (2004)

    Thieves in High PlacesAmerica is at an historic divide between rulers and rulees and the rulees are restless. Hightower’s THIEVES IN HIGH PLACES is an epistle to the American people about vision and choices, and it’s a clarion call to action. The question Jim Hightower is asking is: What kind of country do you want America to be? Not only for you, but for your children and theirs? In THIEVES IN HIGH PLACES Hightower takes on the Bushites, the Wobblycrats, and the corporate Kleptocrats, digging up behind-the scenes dirt that the corporate media overlooks like BushCo’s “Friday Night Massacres”, what’s happened to our food, and the Bush plan for empire. Also drawing on Hightower’s Rolling Thunder Down-Home Democracy Tour, Hightower has tapped into the thriving activist networks that are our country’s grassroots muscle, and his book tells their uplifting stories of retaking control of their communities.

    Let's Stop Beating Around The Bush (2004)
    Let's Stop Beating Around The BushThe bestselling grassroots guru is back with his incisive take on the state of the union and life today in the good ol’ U.S.A.

    America in 2004 is color coded — and it’s not just a matter of red, white, and blue. The terror alert bounces from yellow to orange. The economy offers up a hundred shades of red ink. The environment is turning brown. National security is cloaked in gray shadows. And, as he did in the bestselling Thieves in High Places, Jim Hightower covers it all with uncommon insight, political fearlessness, and laugh-out-loud humor.

    America’s #1 populist gives us Let’s Stop Beating Around the Bush — a hard-hitting, fact-filled review of the real state of the union that you won’t get from the establishment media. With his daily radio commentaries and award-winning monthly newsletter, no one has chronicled the madness of King George the W, the wimpiness of corporate Democrats, and the aggressive avarice of Wall Street with the thoroughness and tenacity of Hightower. Now he brings that investigative punch into this wild and woolly hook of fiery essays.

    With his satirical “Six Perfectly Good Reasons to Re-elect George W. Bush”; his mix of damning indictments and uplifting stories; and side bars, cartoons, games, and puzzles, Hightower has clone the impossible: he has created a subversive read that makes politics fun again.

    The People Are Revolting! (In The Very Best Sense Of That Word) (2003)

    The People Are Revolting! (In The Very Best Sense Of That Word)

    With his aw-shucks charisma and no-nonsense attitude, he dishes out what’s wrong with the eroding integrity of our democracy: politicians for sale to the highest bidder, the economic boom of the 90s not trickling down to the regular folks and more corporate scandals than you can shake a stick at. Offers a compelling collection of Hightower talks plus the best of his daily “Common-Sense Commentaries” on radio, all with an introduction by the late Senator Paul Wellstone.

    • Buy from Indiebound — support independent booksellers
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    • Digital versions: Android, Apple and MP3/CD
    If the Gods Had Meant Us to Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates (2000)

    If the Gods Had Meant Us to Vote They Would Have Given Us CandidatesJim Hightower, America’s favorite subversive, is still mad as hell, and he’s not going to take it anymore. But he will give you a sizeable piece of his mind on Election 2000. This plain-talking, name-naming, podium-pounding populist zeros in on everything that ails us, from the global economy and media to big business and election winners everywhere. In his hard hitting commentary and hilarious anecdotes, Hightower spares no one, including the scared cows — and especially the politicians — who helped steer us into this mess in the first place. An equal opportunity muckrucker and a conscientious agitator for “We the People”, Hightower inspires us to take charge again, build a new politics for a better tommorow — and have a lot of laughs along the way.

    There's Nothing in the Middle of the Road But Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos (1998)
    There's Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead ArmadillosRevised, and with a New Introduction by the Author

    “I am an agitator, and an agitator is the center post in a washing machine that gets the dirt out.”
    –Jim Hightower

    Hightower is mad as hell and he’s not going to take it anymore! He’s also funny as hell, and in this book he focuses his sharp Texas wit, populist passion, and native smarts on America’s political, economic, scientific, and media establishments. In There’s Nothing in the Middle of the Road But Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos, Hightower shows not only what’s wrong, but also how to fix it, offering specific solutions and calling for a new political movement of working families and the poor to “take America back from the bankers and bosses, the big shots and bastards.”

    “If you don’t read another book about what’s wrong with this country for the rest of your life, read this one. I think it’s the best and most important book about out public life I’ve read in years.”
    –Molly Ivins, author of Molly Ivins Can’t Say That, Can She?“When do we get to vote for Jim Hightower for president? Will somebody please tell me? When do we get to vote for Jim Hightower for president?.”
    –Michael Moore, author of Downsize This!

    “Listen to Jim Hightower. His is a two-fisted, rambunctious voice unafraid to speak truth to power, eloquently and clearly…He’s one of the best.”
    –Studs Terkel