I worry that the “all government is evil” rant that is popular right now is getting out of hand.
Normally I ignore ranters, but when they run really outrageous stuff in the paper, one has to say something. As history has shown, left unchallenged anything can and will be believed.
A letter to the editor published last week in this very newspaper caught my eye. It said the latest example of socialism destroying our nation is the use by Box Elder County of government money for weed control.
“Why not let the taxpayers keep their own money to take care of their own weeds?” the letter writer asks.
“Instead, the government takes our money, sets up a grant program, then we the citizens have to go to the government to get our money back, which, then the government decides who will get the money. Redistribution is a Marxist principle and we need to reverse course.”
Marxist weeds? OK, maybe the red ones.
Weed control is like mosquito control, the health department and government services that got their start when everyone, 100 years or so ago, tried to tackle things on their own, failed, and said, “We need to work together on this.”
Since government is “We the People,” it got the job.
Weed control is important. Box Elder County is one of Utah’s major agricultural producers. With more than 1,200 farms producing $120 million in food products, Box Elder’s agriculture rivals ATK Space Systems in economic impact.
Utah’s congressmen fight hard to keep billions of our tax dollars flowing to ATK, and nobody is complaining about that. Meanwhile, that letter writer got upset over a $75,000 state grant.
Mike Pace, Box Elder’s agricultural extension agent (a tax-paid government employee, by the way) said expecting individuals to take care of weeds is a nice concept.
“We wish they would, but a lot of them, they look at it and say ‘not my problem.’
“If we all just sit around and don’t do anything, pretty soon it becomes everyone’s problem.”
Box Elder has problems with medusahead rye, knapweed, musk thistle, hoary cress and perennial pepperweed. The county’s best-known weed is dyer’s woad, a lovely yellow plant originally imported to make dye.
Now it’s everywhere. Dyer’s woad grows along roads and ditches, up hillsides and into fields. The county has spent thousands of dollars over decades trying to keep it from contaminating hay crops and strangling native species, but it’s still here.
Mike is watching out for other things, such as yellow star thistle, already a scourge in Montana and Idaho, where “they’re spending billions of dollars trying to control it” before it takes over range land, national parks and farms.
Just this year, he said, the extension service identified rush skeletonweed, a brand-new weed to Utah that is, so far, only in Box Elder County. It is all over Idaho, where it reduces livestock forage and, because it has gooey latex sap, gums up harvesting machinery.
It’s new; it’s mean.
“Our weed board is aggressively focused on it, and we’re going to do everything we can to eradicate it,” Mike said.
“It’s just one of these new weeds where it doesn’t have anything to keep it in check. It’s got the potential to be the next dyer’s woad.”
It threatens us all, so we all have to chip in to fight it. That may be socialism, but it also protects the food on your table.
The Wasatch Rambler is the opinion of Charles Trentelman. He can be reached at 801-625-4232, or firstname.lastname@example.org. He also blogs at www.standard.net.