One letter can highlight hypocrisy; more letters should follow

Daniel Kester of Williamsville, N.Y., believes some actions of his representative in Congress are hypocritical. So, fed up and using information available online, he sat down and penned a letter to the editor of The Buffalo News:

Last year, Exxon-Mobil made a profit of more than $40 billion. This is the highest profit any American company has ever made. While I congratulate Exxon on this achievement, it does make me wonder why my congressman, Tom Reynolds, found it necessary to vote to continue to give tax breaks to Exxon and other oil companies (House Bill 5351). At the same time, Reynolds voted against tax credits for wind, solar and other alternative energy sources that could actually help reduce global warming.

I can see the sense in giving tax breaks to struggling Western New York companies. But tax breaks for Exxon? What was he thinking? This wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact that he has received more than $165,000 in contributions from the oil and gas industry, would it?

Mr. Kester, 53, is a scientific consultant by trade and an activist who emerges, he said, “every two or four years.” He has worked with Democratic candidates who have opposed Rep. Reynolds. His goal? “One less Republican in Congress,” he said.

“Why’d you write the letter?” I asked.

“To point out the shortcomings” of Rep. Reynolds, he said. “This seemed a like good issue to do it with. It’s easy to understand.”

Mr. Kester composed his letter using information about the bill — including the text of the bill and congressional actions and voting records concerning the bill — available through the Thomas service (named after Thomas Jefferson) at the Library of Congress. He found his estimate of oil and gas industry campaign contributions to Rep. Reynolds at the Web site of the Center for Responsive Politics — better known as

I admire what Mr. Hester did as well as how well he did it. In just eight sentences, he demonstrated:

• the magnitude of corporate profits.
• a coyness in his admiration for Exxon’s accomplishment.
• a contrast between Rep. Reynold’s votes for tax breaks that augmented Exxon’s profits and his votes against measures that could address climate change.
• a contrast between the favorable tax treatment for Exxon and the suggestion that faltering businesses in New York state have a greater need for tax breaks.
• a wink-wink question, rather than a demonizing statement of outrage, about Rep. Reynold’s motivations for backing Exxon.

Mr. Hester’s letter should serve as model to more citizens fed up with hypocrisy in politics, corporate governance and campaign finance. It should encourage them to sit down, write a letter to the editor (or begin a blog) and tell others what they object to, why they object to it, and what ought to done about it.

4 replies »

  1. we need more Hesters all of us should be writing and caling and emailing our reps until their staff explodes. I think schumer and carolyn maloney are sick of me by now — too bad. i dont bother with hillary since she could care less about the senate

  2. This is exactly what Barack Obama is talking about when he says that change is brought about by the people. It’s just that the people have to get involved. As noted above, it’s easy enough to check out what your Reps and Senators are doing vote-wise, and who they’re getting money from. Pick your favorite topic and check out how your elected representatives are doing, who they’re really serving. Then write to the paper so others will know, too. This is democracy at work!

  3. Walt Kelly said it best, IMHO: “We have met the enemy and he is us.” (or should that be “U.S.)?

    This is actually good news: It is far easier to change one’s own behavior than someone else’s.

    Make an enemy of yourself and the world becomes your enemy. Make a friend of yourself and the world becomes your friend.

    It is our own behavior we need to change.

    We should stop being silent when we know we should speak up.

    We should stop failing to act when we know we should act.

    Above all, we should stop succumbing to fear when we know that courage is what is needed.

    We have lived under the thumb of terror long enough.

    It is past time that we develop backbones and start living as human beings.

    The naked truth is that the United States has a very mixed history. On the one side slavery, jim crow laws, the many decades of the Robber Barons, child labor, racial oppression, etc. On the other side the Bill of Rights, votes for all, due process, etc.

    It is long past time to cease rejecting the best of our heritage and celebrating the very worst and begin instead to reject the worst and start celebrating the best.

    Restore the rule of law!

    Restore free elections!

    Restore the free press!

    Reject politics of hate and divisiveness!

    Above all, impeach and/or try hem all: Bush, Cheney, Mukasey and all the rest including most especially Pelosi! (Intentional and aggressive gross negligence of sworn duty in the face of a national emergency is a very impeachable offense.)

    Stop watching Fox television and stop subscribing to any service that carries it!

    Stop getting your news from the lapdog mainstream media and start ferreting out the trustworthy sources on the internet.

    Start talking to your friends and neighbors about politics, giving due respect to their viewpoints and presenting opposing opinions and facts which they may have been ignoring. Make it more difficult for others to engage in our national sport of denial.

    Stop accepting it in silence when someone talks as if “humanist” and “liberal” were foul language. Firmly point out that democracies are founded on full and open discussion of a range of opinions. And then express yours about “liberals”, “humanists” etc.

    Lies, propaganda and distortions of the truth cannot live in the light.

    Opposed the darkness.

    Begin living like human beings again.

    “You cannot be oppressed if your back is not bent!” Martin Luther King