Jim Hightower’s Radio Lowdown

Happy Hour at the Hightower Chat & Chew Cafe: Rep. Ro Khanna

We're trying something new here at the Lowdown! We've been having a blast with our live talk show, so we're dropping the audio from the show right into the podcast feed, so that our audiophile friends can easily join in the fun. Let us know what you think! Urgent alert to top Dem party poohbahs: Too many would-be Democratic voters are disillusioned by your tone-deaf, wishy-washy incrementalism! On our next Chat & Chew Happy Hour, progressive champion Ro Khanna joins Hightower for a lively discussion of how the Dems can fire up people bearing the brunt of unrestrained corporate power and an economy tilted toward the rich. Watch the episode here.

Why Should Work Be Life-Sucking?

America’s stringent system of corporate capitalism keeps carving out new depths of worker exploitation. Take Chick-fil-A, a right-wing, Atlanta-based, fast-food operation boasting that it follows “biblically-based” principles. Like slavery? Well, Chick-fil-A hasn’t gone quite that Biblical yet, but one of its franchises recently pioneered a novel labor compensation innovation that comes close – literally paying some workers “chicken feed.” This outlet of the $11-billion-a-year chain called on area residents to staff its new Drive Thru Express – but in lieu of wages, they were offering chicken sandwiches! Join the Express team, and you’d be “paid” five chicken items per shift. That worked out to less than minimum wage… plus indigestion. What we have here is one more absurd illustration that America’s sanctified work ethic is a fraud, an empty promise that you’ll get ahead if you just work hard enough, keep your nose to the grindstone, and stay loyal to the corporate order for life – no matter how vacuous. But the game is up, for workers across the economy are now seeking more from life than 50-years of serving the company. They’re even organizing anti-workaholism groups like “I don’t want a career,” “Rest is Resistance,” and the “Nap Ministry.” But don’t mistake this rebellion as mere satire by a few puckish slackers. Today’s nationwide shortage of workers (from truck drivers to teachers) is not a momentary economic blip, but a defiant declaration of independence from a form of work that is life-sucking. People are not afraid of hard work, nor averse to long hours… if the task and the cause are worth both time and effort. And “worth it” is increasingly being measured in higher values than dollars alone. Fair compensation means work that includes a sense of purpose, community, respect, fairness, and fun! In short, true worthiness… not a chicken sandwich.

Should Making a Living Mean Selling Your Life?

“Work your fingers to the bone - whadda ya get? Boney Fingers.” This 1960s song mocking the vaunted virtue of working hard is being sung today with new meaning by all kinds of employees – from factory workers to teachers… and even a few upper-floor executives. The rebellion here is not merely over low pay, but particularly about the unrelenting nature of work itself – the all-consuming “job imperative,” as if that’s your life: Go 40 to 60 hours a week 50 to 52 weeks a year for half a century or more… then die. Is that all there is? Is that all we are? Amazingly, this existential, truly-revolutionary question is one that millions of hard-working people throughout our top-down corporate system are asking themselves, their families, and friends. Why are we working like this, why does it matter, what else is there? Airline pilots, for example, have stunned the industry by prioritizing non-monetary demands in their current contract negotiations with the big Four monopolistic airline giants. The bosses have offered 14 percent pay hikes, but pilots are demanding something more meaningful: Structural changes to improve their quality of life. They’re routinely frustrated by management’s inept scheduling, inadequate staffing, and onerous work rules that leave them stressed out, dangerously fatigued, and often stranded far from home. The bottom line is not to get another dollar, but being able to plan and enjoy a non-work life. “You absolutely cannot address quality of life with money,” says the president of the pilots’ union at Southwest Airlines. “You’re never going to pay someone enough for a lost piano recital with their daughter or a lost baseball game.” There are many compromises required to make a living these days, but we humans are finally beginning to say: Enough – you can buy my hard work, but not my life.

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.


 


Stay in the loop with Hightower

Join Hightower’s email list:

Media Distribution Center

Hightower Affiliates, click here!
Not an Affiliate? Want to broadcast or print our commentaries? Apply here for your station or publication to become one today!

Upcoming events

Interested in bringing Hightower to your town? Contact us today!

No upcoming shows scheduled

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.”

    You can leave a message using the contact form below. For immediate media inquiries and needs, please call Laura Ehrlich at 512-477-5588, ext. 1.

    Your Name (required):

    Your Email (required):

    Subject:

    Your Message

    [recaptcha]

    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
    • Buy from Powells.com — independent, too!
    • 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