Writing does not pay very well. For example, weekly newspaper editors pay columnists slightly below the hourly rate indigent Indonesian girls earn stitching Nike shoes. Editors depend upon the vanity, not venality, to keep a stable of scribblers producing their weekly columns.

My smart friends in the academic world live with “publish or perish”-they write obscure journal articles for nothing to keep their jobs teaching college kids and graduate students. But writing for newspapers gives me the opportunity to both publish-and to perish.

Thus, I am seeking a way to increase my income from writing. Apparently the Bush White House has put several columnists on their payroll to pimp Republican policies. (A nice quarter of a million dollar “public relations contract” or “consulting fee” will motivate almost any writer to toe the Republican Party line.)

But alas, none of this largess has been offered me. I would like to fantasize this is because I am thought to be too idealistic and too principled to trade my soul for mammon. Far more likely it is because I am too unknown. Certainly I have failed to advertise my availability.

So I would announce to the entire world that I will sell out and promote any government or ideological cause for cash, check or money order. Furthermore, I am offering to do so for a fixed-and I believe quite reasonable-rate.

For a mere $500 I will advocate the United States invade and occupy any country of the world, axis of evil or not. (For very small, insignificant countries I will advocate smashing them for a cut-rate price. I am willing to build up war fever to invade a country like Canada for around $100.)

For $400 I will sing hymns of praise to Texas Congressman Tom Delay as a paragon of virtue and ethical insight on life and death issues. I will deny that the man is merely termite exterminator collecting money from sleaze bags.

For $300 I will accept a free NRA membership and promote the merits of arming every man, woman and child in America with semi-automatic, armor-piercing weapons with a special emphasis that every hormone addled adolescent in America be mandated to keep a stash of loaded guns in his high school locker.

For $300 I will advocate letting Wall Street investors take over Social Security benefits and place them in both personal and private accounts. (Of course this is only for folks younger than me.)

For $200 I will praise the beauty of oil fields in pristine wilderness. Heck, the regular spewing of Old Faithful in Yellowstone is probably a good indication there is a gas field down there someplace. Might as well check it out.

On agricultural policy, I am offering my services to the highest bidder. I can either advocate that farmers need subsidies to survive or need to learn to survive in a free-market system. Depends on the size of the check.

Free market journalism is my best shot at a happy retirement. I am perfectly willing to sell out-but I am also concerned that nobody will buy me.

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