No News Is Good News

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The TV screen was filled with a field of lettuce, stretching as far as the eye could see. With blue sky above, it was a relaxing and pleasant sight.

But No!! It was a scene of frightful, potential terror! We must, the announcer intoned, regard with extreme concern the lack of security in the agriculture business. With the dead and dying all about us, as a result of contaminated spinach, this warning was timely indeed. Why, the very road on which the camera crew was traveling was unpoliced, and open to everyone!

We were shown a valve that controlled the flow of water into the irrigation system. Securing it were a heavy chain and padlock. Not safe enough, warned our guide. "I’d like to see something more secure here." Left unexplained was how access to the valve controlling irrigation could jeopardize our security, or how it could be made more secure, short of building a fortress around it.

The announcer said that security cameras were being considered for the farm fields. Since the roads along the fields are public highways, lots of people would be captured on tape. Which ones would be the terrorists? The ones who stopped their cars, got out, and sprayed something on the crops? That could poison, I suppose, a few hundred of the tens of thousands of heads of lettuce, or whatever, that were growing there. Is it possible to poison crops by spraying something on them that would not wash off with the first rain, or in the housewife’s sink? Would germs sprayed onto the fields present a hazard to humans while remaining undetected on the vegetables? Where would terrorists get the germs, and how could they spray thousands of acres of farmland? Would someone simply taking a photograph of the fields be considered worthy of investigation, and be visited by the Agriculture Security Forces?

Such specifics were not dealt with in the brief TV presentation, but the idea was implanted: the agriculture business needs to be made more secure, in the name of fighting terrorism, and that could mean a loss of privacy for ordinary Americans going about their businesses in farming areas. But isn’t safer food worth it?

My mind was still reeling from the possibility of having to state my name and business to a guard at the entrance to farm land, when a magazine arrived, informing me, on its cover, of the only business in the "private" sector that’s been adding jobs: the health care industry. As it turns out, there are other industries adding jobs, but these are more than neutralized by the loss of jobs in what is called the "information sector." So the health care industry is supporting the entire economy!

But hold on! Whatever growth the health-care industry enjoys is, to a very significant extent, due to Medicare, which, in turn, means at the expense of taxpayers. This is like saying that the only thing supporting the body politic is the body of parasites feeding upon it! Maybe the woes of the automobile business could be alleviated by a new government program, Autocare! And the housing industry might see boom times again if we only had Homecare! It isn’t difficult, after all, to provide jobs. Simply subsidize something people want, and they’ll want more of it.

Well, is there no good news? Yes, thank God! The good news is J.A.I.L., the Judicial Accountability Initiative Law, which the people in South Dakota will vote upon in November — and which will be on the ballot in other states in the future. This proposed law will establish boards of citizens, to be chosen by lot, and empowered to strip judges of their immunity, and to investigate and, if necessary, indict them. Judges are, after all, public servants, not masters, and should not be protected by immunity from prosecution for their bad acts.

So hopefully, while not fully protected from tomato terrorists, or loss of jobs sucked into the federally-funded health-care business, we might at least enjoy some respite from judicial tyranny. The court room is a lot more dangerous than the farmer’s field!

Dr. Hein [send him mail] is a retired ophthalmologist in St. Louis, and the author of All Work & No Pay.

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