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Jim Hightower


Jim Hightower

Jim Hightower
Hightower at the 2008 Texas Book Festival
Texas Agriculture Commissioner
In office
January 1983 – January 1991

Mark White (1983-1987)

Bill Clements (1987-1991)
Preceded by Reagan V. Brown
Succeeded by Rick Perry
Personal details
Born James Allen Hightower
(1943-01-11) January 11, 1943
Denison, Grayson County, Texas, USA
Residence Austin, Texas
Alma mater

University of North Texas

Columbia University
Occupation Journalist; Commentator

James Allen "Jim" Hightower (born January 11, 1943) is an American syndicated columnist, progressive[1][2] political activist, and author who served from 1983 to 1991 as the elected commissioner of the Texas Department of Agriculture.


  • Life and career 1
  • Doug Jones Average 2
  • Awards and honors 3
  • Books 4
  • Archives 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • Further reading 8
  • External links 9

Life and career

Born in Denison in Grayson County in north Texas, Hightower came from a working class background. He worked his way through college as assistant general manager of the Denton Chamber of Commerce and later landed a spot as a management trainee for the State Department. He received a Bachelor of Arts in government from the University of North Texas in Denton, where he served as student body president. He later did graduate work at Columbia University in New York City in international affairs.

In the late 1960s, he worked in direct marketing by small farmers, and strong gross materials regulations.[3][4] During that time, he also became a leading national spokesman for Democrats and endorsed Jesse Jackson for president in 1988. Three of Hightower’s aides at the Agriculture Commissioner, Mike Moeller, Pete McRae, and Billie Quicksall were indicted and convicted on bribery charges related to Hightower's fund raising activities. The activities involved shaking down seed dealers under the departments oversight to make contributions to Hightower’s reelection campaign. While Hightower was not involved in the plot, it contributed to his defeat by Perry.[5]

During the 1992 presidential election, he supported the candidacy of U.S. Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa. After Harkin left the race, Hightower supported Jerry Brown, again the governor of California, and cast his superdelegate vote for Governor Bill Clinton at the 1992 Democratic National Convention.

Soon after Clinton was elected, Hightower became a critic of the president. He criticized Clinton for having accepted corporate soft money contributions, his support of NAFTA, his health care plan, and his refusal to crack down on "corporate welfare", as well as what Hightower viewed as inadequate efforts at fighting unemployment and poverty.

In 2000, he joined with talk show host Phil Donahue and actress Susan Sarandon to co-chair the presidential campaign of Ralph Nader. He also appeared at Nader's "super-rallies" and stumped across the country for him.

After the disputed outcome of the

Political offices
Preceded by
Reagan V. Brown
Texas Agriculture Commissioner
Succeeded by
Rick Perry
  • World Internet News: "Big Oil Looking for a Government Handout"
  • Download MP3 of Jim Hightower Interviewed by The Progressive magazine on September 24, 2007
  • "Thorne Webb Dreyer: Jim Hightower and the 'Populist Moment'", The Rag Blog. Includes podcast of Thorne Dreyer's April 6, 2012, Rag Radio interview with Jim Hightower (57:43)
Articles and interviews
  • Official website
  • Jim Hightower Archive at The Wittliff Collections, Texas State University, San Marcos, TX
  • The Hightower Lowdown
  • Jim Hightower at AlterNet
  • Appearances on C-SPAN
    • , December 21, 1997.There's Nothing in the Middle of the Road But Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos interview with Hightower on Booknotes
  • Jim Hightower at the Internet Movie Database
  • Works by or about Jim Hightower in libraries (WorldCat catalog)

External links

Further reading

  1. ^ Hazen, Don. "Texas Populist Jim Hightower Makes Progressive 'Hall of Fame,' as Nation Magazine Gathering Grapples with Conflicted Feelings about President Obama". Alternet. 
  2. ^ Hightower, Jim. "Meet Jim". Jim Hightower. 
  3. ^ Taylor, Ronald B. (19 December 1985). "Texas' New-Style Agriculture Commissioner : Jim Hightower Carries His Message of a New Populist Movement Nationwide". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
  4. ^ "Jim Hightower". Conservation History Association of Texas: Texas Legacy Project. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
  5. ^ Three ex-aides to Hightower are sentenced Houston Chronicle. November 11, 1993
  6. ^ Hightower, Jim. "How Florida Democrats torpedoed Gore". Salon Media Group, Inc. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
  7. ^ Hightower, Jim (January 2004). "We the People have driven the Dems to populism". The Hightower Lowdown. Retrieved 2006-05-16. 
  8. ^ Kennedy, Dan (2004-06-30). "Media Log". The Boston Phoenix. Archived from the original on 2006-02-26. Retrieved 2006-05-16. 
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ The Hightower Lowdown
  12. ^ Hightower, Jim (February 1993). "The Doug Jones Average". Retrieved 2006-11-16. 
  13. ^ Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship, official website.
  14. ^ Jim Hightower Papers at The Wittliff Collections, Texas State University, San Marcos, TX.


See also

The official Jim Hightower Archive is at the Wittliff collections of Southwestern Writers, Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.[14]


  • Hard Tomatoes, Hard Times: A Report of the Agribusiness Accountability Project on the Failure of America's Land Grant College Complex (1972)
  • There's Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos (1997; ISBN 0-06-092949-9)
  • If the Gods Had Meant Us to Vote, They'd Have Given Us Candidates (2001; ISBN 0-06-093209-0)
  • Thieves in High Places: They've Stolen Our Country—And It's Time to Take It Back (2003; ISBN 0-670-03141-0)
  • Let's Stop Beating Around the Bush (2004; ISBN 0-670-03354-5)
  • Swim against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow (2008; ISBN 0-470-12151-3)


Awards and honors

The "Doug Jones Average," a concept created by Jim Hightower, is the proposal that in order to check the true health of the American economy, it is less useful to look at the Dow Jones Industrial Average than it is to check up on how Doug Jones down the street is doing. If Doug Jones is on welfare, cannot feed his family, is blowing his savings, and is three weeks behind on his bills, the Doug Jones average is "down." If Doug just got a raise, can pay his bills and Doug and his family are looking into owning a nice but not too expensive house, the Doug Jones average is "up."[12]

Doug Jones Average

Hightower currently writes a nationally syndicated column carried by seventy-five independent weekly newspapers and other publications[9] through corporations and extremist conservatives. He also writes for The Progressive Populist.

In recent years, Hightower has advocated for industrial hemp as a sustainable agricultural crop. Hightower talked about American farmers being unable to grow hemp due to the current policy of prohibition saying, "You can buy these hemp products, but – here comes the goofiness – our farmers are not allowed to grow the hemp! Instead, it comes from Canada, China, and elsewhere." He goes on to explain, "Our nation is the world's biggest consumer of hemp products (from rope to shampoo, building materials to food), yet the mad masters of our insane "drug war" have lumped hemp and marijuana together as "Schedule 1 controlled substances" – making our Land of the Free the world's only industrialized country that bans farmers from growing this benign, profitable, job-creating, and environmentally-beneficial, plant."

Since 1993, Hightower has produced "Hightower Radio," a daily two-minute commentary carried by over 130 affiliates. He also hosted a weekend talk show on the American Broadcasting Company radio network and a weekday midday talk show on the United Broadcasting Network (later called America Radio Network). The show aired in thirty-eight markets around the United States. His producer was Rich Kennedy. Floyd Domino was his music director and co-host. Susan DeMarco was also a co-host of the program and continues to work with him.

. New Hampshire of Judd Gregg" Haddock, a friend and fellow activist who was running as a Democrat against incumbent Republican Senator Granny D During this election, he also campaigned in support of the U.S. Senate bid of Doris "[8] won the nomination, Hightower endorsed him and urged fellow progressives to work for his election, saying, "I don't care if he's a sack of cement, we're going to carry him to victory."Massachusetts of John Kerry Once Senator [7], calling him a "clear populist with a lifelong history of unambiguous advocacy of populist principles."Ohio of Dennis Kucinich U.S. Representative, he spoke and wrote approvingly of since defeated 2004 presidential primaries Although he issued no endorsement of any candidate during the [6]

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