11 April 2006
DIOGENES was reputed to have walked about the streets of ancient Athens carrying a lighted lamp. When people stopped him to ask why, he would tell them, "I am seeking an honest man. " One day, he set the lamp down to eat a snack given him by a passerby. When he finished his repast, he bent down to find that someone had stolen his lamp!
That story popped into my mind while reading Molly Ivins ' latest column, titled The Daily Drip of Special Favors for Special Interests. In it, she explains how the House effectively repealed over 200 state public health protection and food safety regulations by passing H.R. 4167, the "National Uniformity for Food Act. " This act was passed without a public hearing and despite a public write-in protest against it. Apparently, the food industry spared no expense to see that it passed.
The NRDC says that this act overrides all state laws that warn or protect consumers from chemical additives, bacteria, warnings of contaminants of lead, mercury, etc, standards for milk, eggs, beef, other meats and fish. Perhaps the idea is what you don 't know won 't hurt you.
She goes on to state that the food industry gave $81 million to congressional political campaigns this last year. Now they are reaping the profits big time. This act, like many of these huge barrels of rotting pork, was passed on a Friday night without debate or discussion.
A similar miscarriage of pork was the passage of a bill to eliminate royalty payments from the big oil companies for drilling in state and federally owned land in the Gulf of Mexico. In other words, our elected representatives have told the oil men that We the People don 't want any money from them for taking oil we own, we just want to pay them more for it at the pump.
Molly goes on to list a few more, but it certainly makes it clear why we are having so much trouble getting the congress to look into impeachment or censure of the Bush Gang. They 've almost all been tarred with the same brush!
When I was a young man, a friend asked me if I knew the definition of an honest politician. I drew a blank.
"One who stays bought, " he told me.
We the People only elect our politicians. It is big business that buys them and it is obviously big business to whom they owe their loyalty. Business owns the best politicians that money can buy.
If Diogenes were to walk the halls of government on his quest, he would probably have enough savvy to hold on to his lamp with both hands. Unfortunately, when he regained consciousness after the mugging, he would find that, again, someone had stolen his lamp.
There was a time when an average person could run for political office with an intent to do good for his constituents. He was elected by his peers and answerable to them. He made a reasonable salary to compensate him for his labors and, after a few years went home to his farm or business. In due time, he passed away, an honored citizen.
In contrast, now, as an aspiring politician you must have an enormous ego, a lot of money or influential backers, and a whole machine behind you to even think of running for office. Every one of those backers owns a piece of you and if you are elected, believe me, they will collect, many times over.
But, you don 't mind because you and your cohorts have voted yourselves a salary of over two hundred thousand dollars a year with a retirement plan that gives you the same pay for the rest of your life plus generous cost of living adjustments and any raises voted in after you leave. And, you have full, no cost medical coverage for you and your family for life. This holds if you serve one day or thirty years.
So, why should you give more than lip service to the poor dumb schmucks who only voted you into office to represent them? If you don 't know what side your bread is buttered on, you soon find out. You learn to go with the flow, don 't make waves, only fight for things that don 't really matter, but look good to the home folks, and above all, vote the way you are told. It 's money in the bank.
Molly closed with a prophetic quote from Abraham Lincoln. "Corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money-power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in few hands and the republic is destroyed. "