The great crisis facing our country is not going to be cured by any single piece of legislation. The great cause of this crisis is the incredible greed and selfishness that exist in the ruling elite of America. These people have no shame. For years, the CEOs on Wall Street were only making $10 million, $20 million, $50 million a year, at a time when America had the highest rate of childhood poverty in the industrial world, but that was not enough for them. They needed $1 billion a year running hedge funds. They needed to come up with exotic, nonunderstandable financial instruments so that Wall Street became a casino.

And after their slicing and dicing, after their greed, after their recklessness, after their illegal behavior, they plunged this country into a terrible recession. Have you heard one of these people come before the American people and say, “I’m sorry”? Not only have they not apologized after they’ve taken hundreds of billions of your dollars. They’re back to doing today what they were doing before the collapse of Wall Street.

That is unacceptable. That has got to change. . . .

Brothers and sisters, the only way we ever win is when working class people, middle class people, and lower income people come together to fight for justice, to fight for the rights of all our people. On the other side, there are folks who are spending unbelievable sums of money in Washington. And they own much of the media. It’s not going to be easy.

But at the end of the day, if we stand together around a progressive agenda, if we make sure that every working person in this country votes for their own interests, not for the interests of Wall Street or the insurance companies, there is no limit to what we can accomplish as a nation.

If we are prepared to fight, there is not a doubt in my mind that the world we will leave to our kids and grandchildren will be a better world than we have today.

Bernie Sanders's whole article appears in the December/January 2010 issue. Subscribe to The Progressive for just $14.97 by clicking here for immediate access.

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The beauty and the tragedy of everyday life in a war zone.

Maybe I should only be shocked that I wasn’t shocked a long time ago.

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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