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September 18, 2013     Spirit of Jefferson Farmers Advocate
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September 18, 2013
 

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I PAGE A7 opinion ~)pJrJt of JEFFERSON and FARMER'S ADVOCATE Wednesday, September 18, 2013 CHRISTIN MILLER FORD In the early 1970s when I was a first- Preston school system's child nutrition grader in Gerrardstown, recess meant the coordinator. chance to frolic on the lovely, bucolic Strahin's vowing to feed the school playground behind the school, with the system's 2,000 students locally grown mountains visible to the west and to the fare whenever possible. "It's fresher," east, thanks to the orchard that adjoined she told the AP. "The fresher the food, the school property, rows of red apples the better taste you have." on the trees every fall. Students seem to agree. So at lunch one day when the school Friday afternoon after the schools cafeteria offered up Red Delicious ap- served up the farm-to-cafeteria table pies, I naturally assumed the fruit came spread, a picture posted on the Depart- from over the hill. ment of Agriculture's new Twitter ac- Nope. count showed a Preston High custodi- A little geography lesson ensued. It an standing beside a single trash bag, turns out our lunchtime apples came smiling and looking incredulous. "Only from Washington - and not the Wash- 1/4th of the trash today after lunch at ington 90 minutes away where Gerrard- Preston High!" read the caption. "Defi- stown Elementary's older students head- nitely makes janitor Richard Bell's job ed for the big field trip every spring but easier!" far-away-on-the-West Coast Washington Strahin says she aims to keep buying State. local as the weathers cools, too. Preston I'm sure some adults explained to me students will munch on locally sourced the wisdom involved in that decision, salads thanks to farmers who employ hy- but I don't recall it ever making much droponics to raise lettuce long after the sense, traditional summer growing season. So I'm delighted the man newly at the Helmick's work suits longtime state helm of the West Virginia Department of schools administrator Rick Goff just Agriculture is offering a new school of free. As the head of the Office of Child thought: Feeding the Mountain State's Nutrition in Charleston, he's been push- schoolchildren meals made with farm ing to serve students healthier fare, in- products grown close to home. cluding farm-fresh fruits and vegetables Walt Helmick's statewide "Farm to with their roots in West Virginia. School" program kicked off last week at Goff says state department of educa- Preston High School in Kingwood with a tion's efforts have created infrastructure luncheon featuring West Virginia-grown to incorporate locally grown products ground beef, potatocs, broccoli and can- into school menus in more than 30 coun- taloupe, ties. The Preston County school system al- Besides fruits and vegetables, the ready buys tomatoes, cucumbers, green state's cattle industry could also bene- peppers,eggs and honey from local farm- fit from the Farm to School initiative as ers, an Associated Press reporter learned schools begin to serve beef that's raised from Charlene Strahin, who serves as the and processed in the state, according to Buddy Davidson, Helmick's press offi- Helmick also beat out a former agricul- some bib overalls and carries a pitchfork cer. ture field supervisor, an assistant state ag with him everywhere, he's not fooling The money involved isn't mere pea- commissioner and a Kanawha County the West Virginia farm community." nuts. Last school year, her. county's farmer. But it rams ou,Helmick's years as a school system shelled out $11,000 just Once he'd won the nomination, small business owner and other work, on lettuce, she said. Public school sys- Helmick was lambasted by Republicans including serving as executive director tems across the state spend about $100 as a 'fake farmer." They decried Allegh- of the Pocahontas County Development million each year feeding students, but eny Lodge Enterprises, Helmick's 200- Authority and as president of H and S little of that goes to West Virginia farms,acre water-bottling company in Min- Welding Supply, has him focused very according to the state Department of Ag- nehaha Springs, as not a real agricultural much on the bottom line - how he as ag riculture, enterprise, chief can help farmers in West Virginia WestVirginiaagriculture,whichgrows State law mandates the agriculture earn a better living. Beyond the schools or raises nearly $500 million in products commissioner be "a practical farmer, market, Helmick also sees the state's each year, represents a great, untapped learned in the science of agriculture, and prisons as another avenue to put more market, Helmick said. shall have made agriculture his chief dough in state farmers' pockets. Helmick, you might remember, is a business for a period of 10 years imme- "We are importing food from oth- 69-year-old former Democratic state diately preceding his election." er states when we should be growing it lawmaker from Pocahontas County who In an editorial backing Helmick's right here," Helmick said during a recent created some controversy last year on his general election challenger - Monon- tour of an orchard in Hampshire Coun- way to his election to the state's top agri- galia County farmer Kent I.eonhardt - ty. "We feed 6,000 prisoners three meals culture post. In his party's crowded pri- the newspaper in Huntington praised a day on any given day. West Virginians mary, the onetime Senate Finance chair- Helmick for his friendliness and his are spending $7 billion for out-of-state man bested even Bob Tabb, the lifelong "great head of hair" but went on to ask, food. We're not exporting, we're import- Jefferson County farmer who had served "Walt Helmick as an Agriculture Com- ing." as top deputy in Charleston to Gus missioner candidate? How dumb does I don't know if I'd bet the farm on Douglass, at the time the longest-serving Helmick think the voters are? It doesn't Helmick's initiative, but it sure is an idea agriculture commissioner in the nation, matter if Senator Walt Helmick dons that's growing on me. :~:~iiiiiii~i :::::w:-:::. MA(;GIE WOLFF PETERSON I know how I want to remember my friend The last time I spoke to my old, goodliar man living with some of my college to play with whomever was handy. So, friend was the night before his final court friends in an off-campus group house, when our old friend visited one day and date. I thought he was calling for help; He was older, occupying an extra room brought a toy truck, my son invited him but afterward I realized he was calling to to fill the house and help support the to come to his room to play. I felt the mo- say goodbye, rent, bringing little but a rocking chair, a mentary respite an at-home mom craves I don't expect ever to see him again, guitar and a cat. My friend wore his hair when there is another adult around to en- But I always know how to find him. I long, smoked Eve cigarettes and dressed tertain the kid. just enter the Website address for my only in gray, black and white. Butno, our friend said. He didn't want state's sex offender registry, and therehe We'dhangoutaroundthekitchentable to play. He said he wasn't good with is. and eventually, he showed me poetry he children. My son took his new toy and He has to re-register every six months, had written, that he said was to become went to his room alone. so I'll probably be able to fred him eas- lyrics for a band he was pulling togeth- That was the last time I saw my friend. ily from now on. There's his picture, his er. Having never heard him play a note The next time I heard from him was by name, his addresses for work and home, on his 'guitar, I couldn't imagine he had phone, the night before he went to pris- and a listing of the internet child pomog- the stuff to attract other musicians. But on. raphy charges to which he pied guilty he found an unheated, back-stairs, blan- Even though I know exactly where he more than 15 years ago. kets-on-the-wall room for band practice, is these days, I won't call him. I hear he I was in bed with a good book the and the side musicians he needed, and grew mean in prison. I don't want to see night he called. I had no idea what he his lyrics became music, that. I loved my friend as an eccentric had done, or what he was about to face. It was there that I spied a college guy but I don't want to know him as a preda- The man I'd known for years as a com- completing a degree in music, a bass tor. puter whiz and science fiction nut, also player who had just quit touring with a Still, I know that when given the trafficked in images he'd never revealed cover band because he wanted to make chance to get closer to my child, he de- to me. new sounds. My friend was not jealous clined. Whatever else he's done, what- He told me of having answered his when the college guy grew interested in ever he's legally guilty of, whatever will door weeks earlier, to find 14 federal me. And when we married three years keep him on the sex offender registry for agents there to execute a search warrant later, our friend attended the wedding in the rest of his life, he did not take ad- and take his hard drive. He said the law a thrift-store sportcoat, vantage of a moment alone with a small had tracked him through his mail. I be- In time, my husband and I bought a boy. lieved it had to be a mistake and tried to house and had a son, to whom our non- There are no words for the relief in help, asking if he'd contacted legal aid, conformist friends became "uncles" and that. And although I will offer no words if he understood his options. Buthewas "aunts." I was a mom at home, taking of gratitude to my lost friend, Iknowthat well past that point. He had exhausted my boy to morning playgroups, where in that moment he chose innocence. his options, friendships grew over mundane concerns I haven't spoken to him since, and the wiping of noses and behinds. -- Maggie WolffPeterson I knew my friend as a sweet, pecu- Our son was never shy about asking writes from Winchester, Va. ELLIOT SIMON money comes Henry Hazlitt was a journalist, liter- is a Republican, not so much. One of ary critic, economist and philosopher, the highlights of Coburn's report is a His writings appeared in such publi- grant by a federal agency to promote cations as The Nation, the Wall Street the consumption of caviar. "Let them Journal and the New York Times (fre- eat cake?" quently heading the book review see- I can't help but think of Hazlitt when tion), H. L. Mencken's American Mer- I read about the awarding of govem- cury and Newsweek. ment grants. They are announced in the While at Newsweek he wrote Eco- press with much fanfare. I know that nomics in One Lesson, first published for some, the news of the grant causes in 1946, and in his later years Hazlitt great excitement and exhilaration. The expressed surprise that the book had grant will obviously benefit the recipi- become his most enduring work. It is ent and certain special interests. How- eminently readable; it does not contain ever, as Hazlitt points out, the money mathematics or formulae. It presents comes from somewhere -- taxpayers its case in plain language that is easi- -- and he asserts that "they will have ly understood.According to Lew Rock- that much taken away from them which well of the Mises Institute, it may be they would otherwise have spent on the the most popular economics text ever things they needed most." written. He lauds Hazlitt's message as That manifests itself even on the simple but profound: "The art of eco- smallest of levels. nomics consists of looking not merely Recently, the Jefferson County Com- at the immediate but at the longer ef- mission passed the $40 annual ambu- fects of any act or policy; it consists of lance fee. If we leave aside the question tracing the consequences of that poli- as to why the government needs to be cy not merely for one group but for all in the ambulance business, for my part, groups." paying the $40 will not compromise In the first chapter, Hazlitt states my standard of living. For me, it might there is a tendency for most people "to mean having to forego eating out one see only the immediate effects of a giv- night for the year. Not a big deal. How- en policy" leading to "the fallacy of ever, what it means is that there is a res- overlooking secondary consequences, taurant out there that will be out $40 in In this lies almost the whole difference revenue. Still no big deal, until you po- between good economics and bad." tentially have to multiply that by every- Hazlitt examines the unintended con- one who has to pay the fee. The mon- sequences of government policy and es- ey comes from somewhere, and when pecially government spending in what government policy diverts resources to he calls the "special pleading of selfish a particular purpose, there is someone interests," which we today call "special somewhere that will go without. interests." Further, there are some folks who The late Wisconsin Sen. William will feel the impact of the fee to a great- Proxmire used to issue monthly "Gold- er extent than I will. Anecdotally, in en Fleece" awards that recognized par- talking with one neighbor, there will be ticularly egregious examples of gov- a child somewhere that will not receive ernment waste. He issued 169 of them a birthday present that otherwise would until he left the Senate in 1988. West . have. Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd referred to The taxpayer does not have a choice the award as being "as much a part of as to whether or not to pay taxes or the Senate as quorum calls and filibus- fees. If you don't pay, your property is ters." One of Proxmire's most notewor- confiscated or you lose your freedom. thy awards was to the National Science When the government wastes taxpay- Foundation regarding a study on love. er money, it suffers no consequences. Said Proxmire, "I believe that If you or I waste money on something Americans want to leave some things frivolous, we have to deal with the con- in life a mystery, and right on top of the sequences. We are responsible. things we don't want to know is why According to Newton's laws of mo- a man falls in love with a woman and tion, for every action there is an equal vice versa." Obviously Proxmire be- and opposite reaction. The laws of eco- lieved in the right to privacy, nomics are as immutable as the laws of Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn has re- physics. For everything that the gov- cently taken up where Proxmire left ernment"provides" there is an econom- off, publishing an annual "Govern- ic consequence, which is borneby the ment Wastebook." Proxmire, who was taxpayer, whether he likes it or not. a Democrat, used to get a lot of media --Elliot Simon coverage for his efforts. Coburn, who writes from Harpers Ferry