Columns » Hightower

Poor, pitiful CEOs

LowDown

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Phil Gramm, the former right-wing senator from Texas, has surprised me.

I had assumed Sen. Gramm had zero charitable instincts, because he kept trying to kill such poor people's government programs as food assistance.

"We're the only nation in the world where all our poor people are fat," he once said with a smirk.

But Phil seems to have developed a new empathy for people who're demonized.

Although he's now a Wall Street operative, Gramm returned to Capitol Hill in July to express solidarity with victims of bigotry in our country.

Wow! Gramm standing with Black Lives Matter and oppressed immigrants!

No, no ... not "them."

The former senator was testifying against a new rule requiring corporations to reveal the spread between their CEO's pay and what their workers get. It's "demagoguery," Phil grumped.

Then he lurched into the abyss of absurdity, by wailing that overpaid corporate chieftains are actually — get this — victims of public bigotry. Gramm, himself now a multimillionaire, snarled that "the one form of bigotry that is still allowed in this country is bigotry against the successful."

To prove this bizarre claim, Gramm cited the specific case of his buddy, Ed Whiteacre, who retired as CEO of AT&T in 2007. Ed was widely condemned for grabbing a $158 million retirement package for himself as he went out the door.

Gramm practically wept as he related the sad story of Whiteacre's heartache. The guy was actually underpaid, wailed Gramm — "If there's ever been an exploited worker, he was exploited. It was an outrage!"

Odd, since the former senator had never previously expressed the slightest concern about exploited workers.

Perhaps Gramm could do a telethon to support ex-executives like Ed Whiteacre, who suffer such soul-crushing bigotry. Please give till it hurts... and don't laugh, for Phil really feels the pain of the rich.

Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow, on sale now from Wiley Publishing. For more information, visit jimhightower.com.

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