Dot-Com Geniuses

Gosh ... I miss the old days. Like 1999. Or 2000, or even early 2001.

Way back then, brand-new high-tech companies with names like WhzzBang.Com were popping up like popcorn and getting gazillions of dollars in capital from giddy Wall Street investors. The heads of these high-flying firms were getting such massive paychecks that they didn't bother counting the money ... they weighed it. And, of course, since they were so rich, they assumed that they were geniuses, so they began to offer themselves to us lesser mortals as the solvers of all of society's problems.

Back then, we were told that everything from poverty to pollution could be dealt with if only government would get out of the way and let these "new economy" entrepreneurs apply their genius. Of course, Enron stock was selling at $90-a-share back then, too, so many of these geniuses were nothing but self-inflated egos who were sipping their own bathwater and telling us it was champagne

One of the self-congratulatory forums for all this high-tech hubris is held annually in my hometown of Austin, Texas, where these so-called "masters of the universe" gather to solve everything. It's call the "360 Summit," and all the big dogs of dot-comism come floating in on private jets, limousines, and pure arrogance, putting on an extravagant show, sipping champagne, munching caviar-on-toast, and holding seminars with such titles as "Who wants to be a millionaire?"

Ahh, but those were the old days. This year, the 360 Summit was a lot more somber than celebratory. How somber? Instead of caviar, the opening lunch was meatloaf. Outside the hotel ballroom you could buy discounted mousepads, coffee mugs and other products with the logos of Agillion, Garden.com and Point One -- former hosts of the "360 Summit" that are now, alas, bankrupt.

This is Jim Hightower saying ... Whenever the Powers That Be start claiming that a bunch of corporate elites are going to solve society's problems, let's see if they can solve their own little problems first.

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