Grasshopper Soup: No more running around naked
Does anybody know what a conflict of interest is? We all have one, don’t we? We hear about them in law, business and politics all the time. Government officials seem to have them frequently, like baggage and issues. But nobody knows if they really exist or not. People always say there could be one, but nobody ever says there is one. They haunt us like ghosts but never really expose themselves.
There have been conflicts of interest ever since Adam and Eve ate the apple. But that was God’s fault. What was he thinking when he put them in that garden with such an interesting tree? Maybe God wanted to create conflict. He ruined everything. We don’t get to run around naked outside anymore. Some of us find that conflicting.
My brother, a lawyer, sent me a lengthy explanation of conflict of interest, but it raised more questions than it answered. There are a lot of gray areas when it comes to conflict of interest. It’s very unclear, like At-Will Employment (who the heck wants to work?), and#8220;Buy Now And Save,and#8221; snowmobile drivers and#8220;communing with nature,and#8221; a totally spiritual person (which I think, is a dead person) and and#8220;catch and release,and#8221; which is how fishermen get their kicks and and#8220;protectand#8221; fish at the same time.
The gray matter of the human brain is where all conflicts of interest originate. Some people’s brains are more gray than others. Ski thieves have really gray brains, about the size of a nickel. Every Tom, Dick and Harry could have a conflict of interest, usually between a Betty or a Sheila and their wives. But they keep them well hidden.
The grayness of the brain increases with the acquisition of money and power. When you’ve had your fill of those two tempting apples, which is usually never, there are only three things you can be interested in: making commandments, appearing at meetings as a burning bush and throwing exotic parties in Palm Springs with somebody else’s money.
It’s called the American Dream with interest. You work hard enough and you can have anything you want, including lunch with Mohmar Khadafi, or Mormore Gadfly, whatever his name is. Over tea and sand turtle eggs you find yourself agreeing with the right of poor and oppressed people to kill you to get what you have. Now that sounds like it would qualify as a conflict of interest. Maybe Sean Penn can clarify that for us.
There are benefits for people with conflicts of interest, like long drawn out legal battles at taxpayer expense and better meals than the other prisoners. Yes, some conflicts of interest actually improve your life. You can have the finest things money can buy and still qualify for free room and board. Just ask Bernie Madoff.
What’s even more ambiguous than a conflict of interest is what some people do when they have one. They recuse themselves. I’ve excused myself to go to the bathroom before, but I always came back feeling relieved. Maybe I would have been recused if I never came back. Now I’m not sure what I did. My computer spelling and grammar check doesn’t even have a listing for recuse.
Why should there be conflict just because we are interested in something? Can’t we be interested in everything? Conflict just makes everything all the more interesting.
If Adam and Eve learned everything by eating the apple, they’re not talking. If they did we could balance the budget, end poverty, stop burning fossil fuels, stop population growth, have no conflict to be interested in, take off all our clothes and return to Paradise.
Bob Sweigert is a Sierra Sun columnist, published poet, ski instructor and commercial driver. He’s lived at Lake Tahoe for 27 years.