By Jim Hightower on January 28, 2014

The counselor advised, "an informal setting," adding that it is "an effective way to build a better relationship."

That sounds like advice that a love counselor might offer to couples, but not so. This relationship is about money. The counselor is a lobbyist for the health care industry, and he was explaining the art of wooing congress critters by paying several thousand bucks to spend a weekend with them at some posh resort in Vail, Key West, or other luxury getaway.

By holding what are called "destination fundraisers" outside of Washington, lawmakers and lobbyists can spend quality time together as they ski, snorkel, and schmooze. "It's a way to get some large chunks of a lawmaker's time," oozed the lobbyist, who had recently enjoyed three days at the Four Seasons Resort in Vail with five Republican House members, two of whom are on the committee that writes our health laws.

But wait, wasn't there a big stink over golf junkets a few years ago, forcing Congress to prohibit lobbyists from paying for those back ally affairs? Yes, but Washington believes that where there's a will, there's a workaround. Here's how this one works: The lawmakers' political committees pay for their travel, food, booze, and lodging -- so these expenses technically are not "gifts" from lobbyists. In turn, the favor seekers come at their own expense, plus making legal donations to the members' reelection campaigns.

The donations end up being three or four times the cost of the event, so the lawmakers pocket a nice wad of cash, while the lobbyists enjoy a weekend of making legislative whoopee. Since the donations and the event are considered "separate" transactions, it's all legal, see?

Neither do I. In fact, what I see is just another corrupt way for corporations to buy Congress. Who do they think they're fooling?

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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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