By Matthew Rothschild on November 21, 2011

Thank God the Congressional Super Committee failed to reach an agreement.

It was a bad idea in the first place, and Obama and the Democrats should never have pushed it.

It focused too much attention on deficits, which aren’t the biggest problem we’re facing right now. High unemployment is the real crisis, and the more obsessed we all are with deficits, the less room there is to address unemployment.

The Super Committee also was a bad idea procedurally as it bypassed the usual way Congress makes laws. In this sense, it was an end around democracy.

And that was intentional because the vast majority of the American public wasn’t in favor of the one item that both parties and Obama seemed prepared to agree on—and that was monkeying with the way the cost of living adjustment is calculated for Social Security.

This so-called technical change would have cost the elderly and the disabled several hundred dollars a year in the short term, and $1,400 a year after a decade or so.

Not surprisingly, 72 percent of the American public opposed this change, according to a new poll by Celinda Lake, including 70 percent of Republicans.

The Democrats should learn something from this: Don’t touch Social Security. Leave that to the likes of Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich.

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story "Police Use Excessive Force against Occupy Movement."

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter

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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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