GARDENING A SWING STATE

9 May

GARDENING A SWING STATE

Louise Annarino

May 9, 2012

 

It’s cooler today after the heavy rains that soaked my new garden beds. The 88 degree days have subsided; humidity lies like a blanket of clouds over the newly-planted tomatoes. It seems a bit risky for tomato planting, despite the burgeoning evidence that Spring arrived very early this year. It is often hard for the mind to shut out the negativity of hail, wind, snow and ice storms of past Mays. Yet, Ohioans are changing their mind-set, little by little, forced to do so or be left behind in getting their crops to market. Ohioans won’t let changing weather patterns stop their forward progress. Ohio has become a swing-state despite its conservative history; maybe, because of it.

 

In the past,late freezes often occurred in Ohio. Ohioans tend to be conservative gardeners. No root crops planted before the oak tree puts out leaves the size of a mouse’s ear. No flowers or green crops put out before the last official freeze date, which gets earlier every year.Ohioans play it safe doing what they know works, taking few risks, and turning out crops to feed the nation year after year: corn,wheat,soy beans,canola,tomatoes,peppers,pumpkins, and more.

 

Most family farms have been corporatized. We now farm chickens and eggs in tiny cages, in huge barns. Driving mile after mile, we now we see farm field after farm field turning canola flower yellow.  Diversity within a single farm is nearly obsolete. These corporate practices require greater applications of more and more  chemicals, which run off fields into our streams, our small lakes, and our Great Lake resulting in huge algae blooms which  sicken swimmers and kill fish. Chemical companies provide more chemicals to treat the algae blooms. Conservative Ohioans know it is better to prevent a problem rather than treat it after; “A stitch in time, saves nine.” But, chemical companies have lobbyists who pay better than organic farmers, gardeners, and environmentalists.

 

At the same time, backyard farming has taken hold in our cities. Smaller organic farms and dairies are emerging. Farmers’ markets are flourishing. Local restaurants serve locally grown crops, and meat from locally raised, free-range chickens or grass-fed animals. The old is new again in Ohio. Corporations are not people, so have no life-principles, nor historical memory to guide their actions. But Ohio’s people do. And they are swinging back to policies and practices they learned from their farming and immigrant grandparents. Smaller is not always less; and, is often better because a smaller enterprise’s growth can be more closely regulated and controlled for greater productivity and more positive outcomes. Ohioans are not against regulations which protect commerce, banking and investing any more than they oppose regulations to protect the soil, air and water. They are not against gas and oil wells; they are against destroying our water supply by unregulated drilling practices. One can see well heads on farms all across the state, many of which supply energy for the local farmer whose field it sits upon.They are not against wealth accumulation; they are against unregulated and unscrupulous seekers of wealth, who destroy our middle class for their personal gain.

 

Ohioans have a history of shared community; of seeing the larger community as a living being entitled, as well as obligated, to the care of each member. Family farmers care for their own, and for their neighbors. Barn-raisings involve an entire community, sometimes for several days. No disaster is faced alone in an Ohio town. We see fewer farm towns today, but we see their remnants in our caring communities: races for “cures”, change jars on store check-out counters for struggling families, “battles of the bands” for town disasters etc. Ohioans care for one another, as best they can.

 

This is why the messages against “big government” are so insidious and so wrong-headed. The only way to make Ohioans, who are so community focused, believe them is to baldly lie that government is our enemy;and that government is taking away our money, our civil rights, our religion,our very means of survival, and our abillity to  care for one another. The truth is that for every $1.00 dollar Ohio sends as tax to the federal government it receives back $1.05 in return. Ohioans are actually getting more of their money than they give. 1

 

The federal government is the entity which protects our civil rights. Have we forgotten the Civil War? Jim Crow Laws? Anti-Miscegenation laws? Segregated schools? The Civil Rights Act of 1963?  Title VII and Title IX?  Repeal of “Don’t Ask,Don’t Tell”?  The federal government alone was able to assure civil rights protection so that slaves could be freed, African-Americans and women could vote,  African Americans could freely travel-eat in restaurants-get hospital care-drink from a drinking fountain, persons of different races could marry, children of different races could learn side-by-side, girls could play sports and be treated as equals to boys,age discrimination would not be tolerated,and everyone could serve and protect our towns, cities and nation openly and with respect. The government we are told to fear is the greatest protector of our civil right. Does this sound like your federal government is taking away your civil rights?

 

It is the federal government which grants religions tax exempt status so that church-raised dollars support only their religious tenets,not the larger community. And, it is federal dollars raised from American citizens of every religion, as well as from agnostics and atheists, which are given to religions for their “faith-based initiatives” which do serve the larger community. It is the federal government which protects those tax dollars received from all Americans from being used to promote the specific religion accepting the federal funds. This is what the Ist Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1791, intends by the following language: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”2  Anyone can pray in school at any time. Just don’t do it out loud. The schools are for students of any, or no religious belief; public schools are not religious schools. This does not mean public schools take away one’s religion, nor do they promote religion. This is in keeping with our Constitution. Does this sound like your federal government is threatening your religion’s existence?

 

It is the federal government which regulates the water,soil and air against corporate pollution which destroys are fishing industry, our agricultural product desirability, our own health. It is the federal government through the Affordable Care Act, ObamaCare, which regulates medical providers delivery of services against fraud and lowers the cost of services, which insists 80% of insurance premiums are used for medical care rather than corporate profit lowering the cost of heath care, demands no one is to be denied medical insurance due to pre-existing conditions. etc. Providing an environment and social structure to keep citizens healthy, lowers health care cost and promotes growth. Does this sound like your federal government is threatening your right to exist?

 

Ohioans are conservative farmers, gardeners, and citizens; but, they are fair and wise. Those who remember their history, who see through the BIG LIE about BIG GOVERNMENT, understand that S.B. 5’s intended purpose is to destroy unions, eliminate government workers, and undermine Democratic party support by such middle class workers;and they also see this attack actually undermines the Ohio tax base and  Ohio productivity, leads to increased foreclosures and bankruptcies, increases joblessness, and threatens Ohio’s economic recovery. It was the stimulus of federal government dollars which kept police, EMT’s, fire personnel, teachers and other essential public workers on the job despite the actions of Governor Kasich and the Republican-led Ohio legislature to reduce big government. Without “big government”,under President Obama’s federal leadership, the economic consequences for Ohio of Kasich’s small government would have been even more devastating.

 

In the weeks and months to come, as we fight off the pests attacking our fields  and gardens, we will also fight off the pests who sponsor attack ads against “Big Government”, President Obama, and Democratic candidates. These pests have also attempted to destroy conservative Republican candidates such as Lugar, and those like  Snowe and others who declined to run rather than face Tea Party Republican attacks. We can’t ignore such attacks in our gardens, nor in this election. We grassroots gardeners must prepare and amend our soil to strengthen our plants and our minds to withstand such assaults.

 

President Obama has wisely stated that this election could make the difference for the survival or failure of our middle class, of those farmers and gardeners who toil their own crops and tend their own fields, and support their own communities within their middle class means and with their middle class value that we care for one another. We believe in the goodness of community, the power of pulling together and helping others who need our help. We don’t blame the farmer for a lost crop during times of drought or flood. President Obama and the current Democratic candidates don’t blame the middle class for corporate greed and de-regulation by past administrations and elected officials which led to economic disaster. President Obama, who has sought repeatedly to find a hand to hold across political aisle, does know whom to blame: small-minded people  who promote reducing government  oversight in order to amass great wealth through de-regulation, the  people who created the lie of “big government is your enemy.”

 

It is not big government we must fear, but the wrong government. Vote for President Obama. Give him a  congress which will protect the famers and gardeners, the middle class, the true conservatives of small towns and big cities who swing with the sun and rain to protect their crops. The rest of us! Gardening in a swing state ? Ohioans know how to  do that!

 

1.http://visualeconomics.creditloan.com/united-states-federal-tax-dollars/ , V E, Visual Economics

2.http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html#Am1

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