What? Progress Being Made in Mississippi? Seriously?

A working-class Democrat has pulled even with the right-wing incumbent governor, indicating there’s progress being made in Mississippi!

There’s a common political refrain among Texas progressives: “Thank God for Mississippi.”

Our own state government, run by corporate lobbyists and right-wing nutballs, is a notorious hellhole for efforts to provide even a little more fairness for the poor, the working class and the environment. So, Lone Star progressives need some straw to grasp to keep from tumbling into the ditch of total despair. Mississippi has been that straw: No matter how mingy our state officials are, Texans can count on the Magnolia State to be one digit worse.

But — Have Mercy! — Texans are suddenly in danger of losing our reputational buffer, for Mississippi is close to making a momentous upgrade this election year. An unabashed working-class Democrat with a program of For-The-People reforms and an anti-plutocrat campaign for governor has already pulled even with the right-wing incumbent. Thus indicating there is actually some real progress being made in Mississippi!

Brandon Presley is the upstart’s name. A “little d” democratic populist elected at 23 years old to be mayor of his small hometown (where he still lives), he’s now in his fourth term as a highly effective, widely popular member of the state utility commission. There, he has successfully battled the electric power giants and telecom profiteers on behalf of everyday ratepayers, workers and the environment.

Presley (who actually is an Elvis cousin!) is not a pure liberal — he’s pro-gun and anti-choice. But this is Mississippi, and while it’s essential to strive for the pure light of liberalism, a multiracial majority of workaday Mississippians see Presley as a pure champion of basics they’ve long been denied — from health care to voting rights. So, they’re rallying for change — after all, even a dog knows the difference between being stumbled over and being kicked!

The people of Mississippi know they’re being kicked by the moneyed powers, and Brandon Presley is saying, “Let’s kick back.” To learn more, go to brandonpresley.com.

Checking the Price You Pay for Corporate Food

Oftentimes, when you suspect you’re being gouged by corporate price fixers — you are.

Take the rat-a-tat-tat of today’s price jumps at supermarkets and chain restaurants. They make you want to race to the cash register before they raise prices again!

“No, no,” cry the CEOs of food giants. “It’s not us, it’s ‘supply chain disruptions;'” then corporate politicians and economists chime in with old platitudes about the invisible hand of “supply and demand;” and media know-nothings also pile on, blathering about “ne’er-do-wells” causing a labor shortage.

But, hogwash — your suspicions are right: It’s plain ol’ price fixing by avaricious food monopolies. Top executives even brag about it when talking to their bankers and stockholders. McDonald’s for example, recently told investors that “strategic menu price increases” in the past three months had boosted profits by 63%. Big Mac’s CEO exulted: “I’m really proud of how our system has executed pricing.” Never mind that it’s their customers being executed.

“Well,” say free-market proselytizers, “just buy from a competitor.” But in nearly all segments of today’s food economy, a handful of giants control the market, with each one in on the fix. For example, Chipotle, a McDonald’s rival, also jacked up prices in the same three-month period, manufacturing an 84% profit increase. Its CEO then gloated to Wall Streeters: “I think we’ve demonstrated we do have pricing power.”

By the way, these same giants are also fattening their profits by ripping off their workers. The federal poverty level is now $25,000 a year, with fast-food workers typically getting only $3,000 a year more than that bare minimum for a 40-hour week. But there’s the “gotcha” — the profiteering executives hold each worker to about 26 hours a week, creating a sub-poverty labor force for this multibillion-dollar industry.

Jim Hightower