By Jim Hightower on January 30, 2014

By Jim Hightower

A corporate lobbyist recently admitted to The New York Times: "Everybody is embarrassed about it. Although not so embarrassed that they don't do it." "It" is the scandalous copulation between corporate cash and willing legislators that's taking place regularly in such secretive rendezvous resorts as the Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton. Lawmakers and lobbyists don't like to talk about what they're doing (and certainly don't want voters or the media to see them), for these getaways are explicit, tawdry examples of the prostitution of our legislative system. If you had wandered innocently into the toney Four Seasons hotel of Vail, Colorado, in early January, you could've witnessed one of these group gropes. Assorted lobbyists, including one who represents the utility giant, PPL Corporation, had slipped tens of thousands of dollars into the political pockets of Rep. Ed Whitfield and four other House members for the pleasure of rubbing elbows, wining and dining, and whispering sweet legislative nothings to them for hours. At one dinner, the cozy group dug into juicy wagyu steaks and swilled $60-a-bottle wine as they played scratch-my-back, Washington-style politics. Whitfield, a Kentucky Republican, was especially popular with the utility lobbyists, for he chairs the House committee that handles legislation affecting – guess who? – utilities! And Ed must've had a good time in Vail, because when he returned to Washington, he promptly introduced a bill to let PPL and other electric utilities build additional polluting, coal-burning power plants – an industry favor that would overturn health protections recently approved by the Obama administration. Sure, the public approval rating for Congress is at historic lows, but the Vail experience of Whitfield and the others shows that lawmakers can be loveable – for a price. Listen to this commentary:

------ Photo: "Young happy woman with dollars," via Shutterstock.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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