Guest opinion

Time for another "Gooberhead Award" presented periodically to people in the news who've got their tongues running 100 miles an hour ... but forgot to put their brains in gear.

Today's Goober is our very own secretary of labor, Elaine Chao. She has a difficult job since she's the labor secretary for the most anti-labor president of modern times. For example:

• The Bushites have killed rules to help prevent the debilitating repetitive-motion injuries that millions of working Americans suffer on the job.

• They've denied the employees of the new Homeland Security Department the right to form a union.

• And they're now trying to rig the rules so millions of hard-working Americans can be cheated out of overtime pay.

You'd think a labor secretary would at least try to be an advocate for working folks, but Ms. Chao instead goes along with the corporate interests. This might be because she has zero experience in the labor field, having come to her present position from years of service on the boards of directors of Bank of America, Clorox, Columbia/HCA Healthcare, Dole Foods, and Northwest Airlines.

Still, labor leaders were stunned when Chao came to their recent annual meeting and attacked them, rather than talking about a plan for dealing with such real national problems as mass layoffs, looted pension funds, and the growing health care crisis.

Then Her Gooberness airily declared that the economy is too weak to support a raise in the minimum wage, which now is set at the gross sub-poverty level of $10,000 a year for full-time work. Excuse me - Bush wants to shove more than a trillion dollars of our public monies into the pockets of the superrich, but the economy is "too weak" to sustain a one-buck hike for America's poorest-paid workers?

There's a historic labor song titled "Which side are you on?" With Elaine Chao, there's no question. Working families would be better off with no one as labor secretary than to be stuck with this Goober.

Radio talk-show host and author Jim Hightower is a former agricultural commissioner of Texas.

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