Saturday, January 28, 2012

Voting for the Farm

In the past month, we have planted 1,600 row-feet of sweet peas. Then we pounded in 8-foot stakes every 15 feet and we are stringing up a 6-foot trellis to support the sweet pea vines when (if) they grow. Now we're waiting for those little darlings to start blossoming with fragrant flowers. I started to get obsessive and worried about the seeds in the second bed because they were not emerging. We reasoned it's January and the soil is cold and that would make it slow, but still I was pacing back and forth.

So I said -- better just walk away and let nature take its course, and I went to another part of the farm and started transplanting all the herbs because Ann wants them by her kitchen door. That makes sense.

Last week in my essay on "sustainable agriculture," I was lying and I need to tell the truth. I made a mockery of the guys with clipboards who come around the farms and tell people what to do and how to conform to regulations. The truth is that I wish I had one of those jobs myself.I can see myself swinging a clipboard and riding around in my car from farm to farm. Of course, then I would have to drive back to the office and write reports and go to meetings. Oh God, I hate going to meetings. But if I had a clipboard job where I didn't have to go to TOO many meetings, then I would like it quite a bit -- steady pay and no sweat.

Farming is not an occupation of choice for me as it may be for others. I do not have a great deal of experience. I write these enthusiastic essays about the joys of working with the soil -- but I am really only trying to convince myself. The truth is that I work on a farm because it's the only job I can get. If I had better pay in town I would be gone tomorrow. Having said that, the farm has been good to me since I know there will always be work for me in this field and, as well, farmers are kind to old guys like me -- they have little prejudice toward youth.

Now, on to what really interests me -- the upcoming election. I enjoy politics very much, although I can't say that I am any good at it. I change my mind frequently, I am not on anyone's side and I don't care who wins...... but I find the process to be fascinating. Here's the Owens Doctrine on how people vote:

You vote where you live, and if you live on a farm, that's how you vote. I'm voting for the farm I live on.

You vote where you live and where you live means where you sleep -- where you come home at night and lay your burdens down. That's where you live and that's where you vote.

And that means nothing matters more than the peace and safety of the night, so that you and your loved ones can rest in peace.

Because you can work during the day, and you can take care of yourself and build a home, but at night you close your eyes and let go of your cares, and when you're sleeping someone needs to keep a watch because the world can be dangerous.

With that simple picture in mind, we can see that the essential purpose of government is to keep the peace, and to keep us safe from dangerous people, whether domestic or foreign. If that's all the government did, and if the government did it well and if we could sleep at peace during the night, then we could take care of the rest ourselves.

Meaning the police, the military, and the administration of justice are essential in government. The rest is optional. We don't need public school or libraries, because, in a safer world, we can make our own arrangements. We might agree to public schools and libraries, and parks, and fire departments, and postal services -- but they are optional and non-essential -- just to keep that in mind.

In the coming election year, the decision to be made is whether to give President Obama another term. It is a luxury for us to be considering the economy as the principle issue. It is the luxury of peacetime to argue about jobs.
But what really matters is that we are alive and we are free and we can sleep well at night, and if can sleep well, we can work during the day and take care of ourselves.

So, are you better off than you were four years ago? That's a good question. But a much more important question is are you free and can you rest in peace at night? That's how you should vote -- you should vote where you live.

I live on a farm, and that's how I will vote.

Now, having established the Owens Doctrine I will document my visits this past week.

I have been an Obama supporter, but I am about to cast him adrift.....I have mixed feelings about this. Arguably, the President's most important duty is to keep the peace and defend our shores. I feel Obama's handling of foreign and military affairs is quite good. He got the bad guy, whereas the previous President couldn't even find the right country to invade. Also cities like Los Angeles and New York are reporting record low levels of violent crime, and that is what you call domestic tranquility. I think you should choose your President on this basis.
The President's second most important duty is debatable -- is it his job to restore and maintain the economy? I take the pragmatic approach -- some gov't programs have worked well and some have not. Right now I think Obama is handling things quite poorly, and I had this moment of clarity the other day watching Our Pres at the Apollo Theater doing a riff on an Al Green song -- Obama sure is cool and he has a wonderful wife and family -- and I compare him to Newt Gingrich who is most decidedly not cool, fat and funny-looking and a marital disaster -- but the fact is that stuff just doesn't matter too much.

So, I have cast Obama adrift, and where does that leave me?

That leaves me interested in Newt Gingrich. Keep this in mind, that doesn't mean I will vote for him, it only means he has caught my attention.

Newt said the most wonderful thing -- we could establish a colony on the moon by 2020. None of this Small Ball that Obama is preaching, but a moon shoot! My fellow Americans, we may succeed and we may fail, but let us do so in the most spectacular manner.
Newt Gingrich irritates me. He irritates everyone. That's why I like him. Gingrich flip flops on the issues. He changes his mind every day -- just like me. And he won't go away. After everyone gets sick to death of him, he's still there and he's still talking -- this is an admirable quality.

I'm not judging Newt's entire presentation, but I did hear him make three memorable comments:

1. He told Juan Williams that it might be good for 12-year-olds to work as school janitors. This is an excellent idea. I earned my first dollar at age 12, caddying and shoveling snow. My two children began work at age 12, working in the fields for farmers. It gives you a great beginning in life.

2. John King asked him about the trash talk from his second ex-wife, and Newt told John King it was none of his business. I was very glad to hear Newt say this because I really don't want to know about the private affairs of our political candidates.

3. Rick Santorum said that Newt had grandiose ideas. Newt responded, yes I have grandiose ideas because America is a grandiose country. Right on. Swing for the fences. Go for broke.

This weekend is probably Newt's highwater mark, but the inevitable Mitt Romney will forge ahead to get the nomination. That will be so dreary -- Romney the button-down white guy versus Obama the button-down black guy, both very corporate and composed and competent, given to a measured response and not easily provoked. My Democratic friends will carefully explain to me why it matters so much that Obama is better than Romney, but I will not be interested because the distinctions seem trivial.

I will vote for the farm this November. It is my shelter -- I will look around these acres and then make a decision.

-- Fred Owenscell: 360-739-0214

My blog is Fred Owens

send mail to:

Fred Owens
7922 Santa Ana Rd
Ventura CA 93001

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