By Anonymous (not verified) on November 16, 2010

The Parachute

The parachute was invented in twelfth-century China. Early versions consisted of a cloth cone stretched over a wood frame, though with time the material used became more refined. In the late 1700s, pleated silk was the chosen fabric. But it was the twentieth century that saw the introduction of the most extravagant material: the golden parachute. It was engineered to protect corporate executives from the perils of a fall from grace and employment.

These are the numbers involved in rescuing some of the corporate brass:

Robert Eaton, the CEO of Chrysler, received a $70 million package;

Lee Raymond of the oil giant Exxon got $350 million;

Robert Nardelli of Home Depot received $210 million;

Hank McKinnell of the Pfizer pharmaceutical company, $200 million;

Lloyd Blankfein of financial colossus Goldman Sachs did not lose his job but had to reduce his yearly compensation, which was $50 million. What remained was enough to keep him from going under in the crisis.

The Traffic Light

The first traffic light has been in operation since the end of 1868, standing in front of the British parliament.

In our time, other, far more powerful stoplights govern the world’s traffic.

In almost all countries of the North, the red light halts the circulation of many dangerous herbicides, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers.

Yet in almost all of the countries of the South, the green light is on for these same agrotoxins, poisonous to humans but sold by the North.

Who runs the traffic lights?

Who governs the governments?

This is but an excerpt from Galeano's article in the November issue of The Progressive. To read the entire article and to subscribe to The Progressive for only $14.97 for a year, simply subscribe now by clicking here.

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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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