In an insightful song about outlaws, Woody Guthrie wrote this verse: “As through this world I travel / I see lots of funny men / Some’ll rob you with a 6-gun / Some with a fountain pen.”
The fountain pens are doing the serious stealing these days.
For example, while you’d get hard time in prison for robbing a bank at gunpoint, bankers who rob customers with a flick of their fountain pens (or a click of their computer mouse) get multimillion-dollar payouts.
They usually escape their crimes unpunished — but not unscathed. After all, it’s their constant, egregious, gluttonous thievery that’s made “banker” a four-letter word in America, synonymous with immoral, self-serving behavior.
For example, Wells Fargo, our country’s biggest consumer bank, has gotten away with paying some fines for stealing millions of dollars from customers in its notorious “fake accounts” scheme.
But it hasn’t escaped the wrath of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia.
This feisty order of nuns, which holds a block of Wells Fargo stock, is infuriated by the rank immorality of its bank’s executives. The sisters are pushing a shareholders’ proposal demanding a full accounting of the “root causes” of the malicious fraud perpetuated on vulnerable depositors.
Unsurprisingly, the bank’s aloof and arrogant board of directors, which had silently presided over the fraud for years, opposes any such meaningful probe. Such recalcitrance only intensifies the public’s outrage and cynicism toward out-of-control banksters.
But the giant worries less about its public image than it does about the reality an in-depth investigation would expose — namely, that our nation’s dominant banks have not only become too big to fail and too big to jail, but too big to manage and control.
To stop that thievery, they must be broken up.
Obamacare Is Actually Working
The law has flaws, but more Americans are insured than ever — and insurers are still turning a healthy profit.
Question: What do you get when you mix a barrel of fables, a sack of mendacity, and a gross of whoppers – topped with a thick layer of subterfuge? Answer: The fiasco that’s been the Republican attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
“We’re going to do something that’s great,” The Donald trumpeted when he endorsed House Speaker Paul Ryan’s now-dead bill to displace Obamacare. But Trumpcare was “great” only in the sense that it was a great-big bloated concoction of lies.
Start with the original lie that right-wing Republicans have harped on for nearly a decade: Obamacare is a total failure.
We’ll “repeal and replace” it as soon as we get control of the national government, they shouted. Then, when Trump happened, he made killing Obama’s Affordable Care Act his top legislative priority. Ryan chimed in with a perfect imitation of Chicken Little, squawking that the ACA is in a “death spiral.”
In fact, the president and the speaker were lying.
While Obamacare has flaws that require fixing, overall it’s been a tremendous success. It has reduced by almost half the number of Americans who had no health coverage (benefiting especially many white working-class people who had supported Trump). Moreover, the overwhelming majority of the millions who gained ACA coverage are satisfied and glad to have it.
Undeterred, the Trumpsters tried another Chicken Little tale. The health law is doomed, they squawked, because it’s been unprofitable for the insurance giants, so they’re withdrawing.
Bogus! In fact, the profits of Aetna, Cigna, Humana, UnitedHealth, and other managed care corporations have soared under Obamacare. The biggest one, UnitedHealth, has seen the value of its shares skyrocket by a spectacular 480 percent since the ACA expansion of Medicaid.
Now we know why Trump & Company are so hostile to truth based news — actual facts expose their lies.
OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also the editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown. Distributed by OtherWords.org.