We’ve been hearing a lot about politicians and their speaking fees. Ridiculous amounts of money paid to office holders and former office holders for bending the ear of this, that or the other trade association.
And when we attend a speech, we’re forced to listen, periodically nodding off until jolted fully awake from the thunderous applause, a show of gratitude that at last the talk ended.
Let’s get even.
Let’s charge a listener fee.
Say you’re a member of the Moote Pointe Auto Technicians Association. The annual dinner is coming. You pay for reservations. Congressman Lowbungle (R-Seaford) is going to talk to you about, say, wheat prices in Calcutta. What wheat prices or Calcutta have to do with defective airbags is a mystery. But you plan to go.
When you send in your check and reservation form you include a modest bill for your time and attention.
The MPATA will, of course, ignore the bill, even though it’s for a fairly modest amount.
You then call the papers and the cable TV news channel to tell them what you’ve done and what the association has done in return.
The paper will send a guy in a t- shirt to your door. He’ll have a little digital sound recorder and a notepad, probably not a pen, which you will lend him. He’ll sit on your couch and ask you pointed questions about your act of daring.
The TV channel will send a breathless, attractive, excited and exciting woman with a short skirt and a tank top to your door. Don’t be tempted. She may be hot. But look at all the gear she has to carry around with her. Probably can bench press a loaded minivan and has a left hook that’s the envy of her kickboxing class.
Seeing either story, local lawyer Whiplash Willie, will send you a letter announcing a class action suit against your trade group for failing to pay its vendors. And you are a vendor and were from the moment you put that invitation, check and invoice into the mailbox.
The story grows. ABC sends 20/20 to your door. Elizabeth Vargas doesn’t carry her own camera. But don’t hit on her anyway. Dateline sends Keith Morrison to your door. Bringing up the rear… Morley Safer of 60 Minutes.
Soon, the whole country knows about the listener fee, and copycats abound.
In Kalamazoo, Michigan, the Kzoo Club decides you are right and starts taking listener fees out of the money it pays Hillary Clinton to talk about maple tree harvesting.
Now look what you’ve done! You’ve destroyed an entire industry that needs destruction and created a whole new one.
--The hack Epaulette or whatever his name is finally had the grace to concede the election, keeping Charlie Rangel in congress for another two years. This better be it, sir. You didn’t win, Espiallat lost it because he is aimless and dull.
--Obama didn’t endorse Rangel. Another of the President’s headless chicken dance moves. This leads us to ask what do Bill Clinton, Charles Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand, and every pedestrian on 125th Street know that Obama doesn’t?
I’m Wes Richards. My opinion is my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2014