By Anonymous (not verified) on December 20, 2010

We hear a lot of talk from Republicans and tea partiers about cutting food stamps and unemployment benefits to workers who lost their jobs through no fault of their own. But when it comes to corporate welfare for giant, profitable oil companies, Senate Republicans are unanimously in favor of keeping big oil’s tax breaks alive.

Perhaps most troublesome is the fact that far too many members of Congress seem willing to base public policy not on sound science but on Glenn Beck, who has suggested climate scientists should commit suicide and compared Al Gore to Adolf Hitler. Rush Limbaugh, for his part, has said that global warming is “bogus” and the work of “pseudo-scientists.”

Adding insult to injury was the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, which has allowed corporations to spend unlimited sums on ads to influence elections without even having to disclose who is paying for the ad. This 5-4 court decision is already wreaking havoc on our democracy, empowering the oil and coal industries to use their huge profits to punish politicians who vote against them. The Republicans filibustered legislation in the Senate to impose modest disclosure requirements on corporate election spending.

We must aggressively take on this kind of corporate bullying with a strong grassroots movement. In Vermont, we have dozens of towns with energy committees. These are just groups of engaged citizens who have decided they want to do something about energy independence, do something to lower their energy bills, do something to fight global warming. We need to take that spirit and build a broader national grassroots movement—like Bill McKibben and his team at 350.org are doing.

The bottom line in all of this is that, as a citizen, if you care about protecting the environment and fighting global warming, you have to fight the influence of the polluting industries. This type of effort is absolutely essential to help Congress find the spine to overcome the objections of corporate polluters and pass meaningful legislation to tackle the most significant environmental challenge of our time—global warming—and to transform our energy sector while creating millions of jobs in the process. They have the money and the power, and there is only one way to beat them: with an unprecedented grassroots movement.

This is an excerpt from Sen. Bernie Sanders’s essay in the Dec/Jan issue of The Progressive magazine. To read his article in its entirety, simply subscribe to The Progressive for just $14.97—75% off the newsstand price, 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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