By Jim Hightower on December 26, 2013

Never have so few done so little for so many. At least they've finally adjourned for the year.

And what a year it was! A few numbers sum up the sorry story, so let's review them. For example, 16. That's the number of days that a gaggle of tea party Republicans shut down our government by throwing an October hissy fit. Oh, add 24 billion to that -- $24 billion is the economic loss America suffered from the tea partiers' shut-down stunt.

Speaking of stunts, check out the number of times the House GOP has voted to make the political point that it doesn't want Obamacare to work. It now totals 47 times.

Now here's a telling number: 239. That's how many paid days off our congress critters gave themselves in 2013. Yes, for two-thirds of the year, they were no-shows at their ornate workplace. Hey, stuff like shutting down government and casting meaningless votes is tiring, and you've gotta get your rest to keep up the pace.

And here's a big, angry number that our well-heeled lawmakers can't seem to see: 11 million. That's how many of our fellow Americans are jobless, some 4 million of whom have been out of work for more than 6 months. Yet, Congress went AWOL on its duty to respond to this raging jobs crisis. However, members did show up to slap America's hardest-hit workers. Just before taking off for their Christmas break, GOP lawmakers pushed a budget deal that killed an emergency benefit program for people who're mired in the misery of longterm unemployment. Yes, in the Season of Joy and Goodwill, Congress -- Ho-Ho-Ho! -- cut off this essential lifeline for 1.3 million workers and their families. Another 1.9 million will lose their benefits next year.

But, hey, who's counting? It's all just a bunch of numbers to Congress.

Congress' Cushy Jobs: 239 Days Off While Workers Guaranteed Zero (via AlterNet, December 3, 2013)

Jobless Fear Looming Cutoff of Benefits New York Times (via The New York Times, December 13, 2013)

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Photo: J. Bicking / gop-hutterstock.com

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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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