Archive for November, 2011

Home of the Free, Land of the Dumb

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

A dunce cap for the whole country.

By Bob Gaydos

What a dumb-a** effin’ country we live in.

It’s a struggle each week just to keep track of all the stupid s**t that goes on. I even feel obliged to start this column with obscenities because I want to reach all those under-40 readers who, thanks to today’s culture, don’t think you’re angry unless you say you’re p***ed.

Well, I’m p***ed. And I will try vent that anger while trying to refrain from further colorful language in honor of, well, the English language. (And there’s a concept we have stupidly abandoned, but I digress.)

Exhibit Number One, this week and for the past several weeks: In what civilized universe is the field of presidential candidates put forth by the Republican Party considered anything but an insult to the intelligence?

How are such proven intellectual lightweights as Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry still considered to be possible presidential timber? Is balsa wood the new oak? Is Rick Santorum fit to play with other children?

Is Herman Cain — who once ran a pizza company not as many people had previously heard of as he would lead you to believe and who apparently doesn‘t know where Libya is — to be believed when he denies four allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior and one 13-year-long extra-marital affair? Are the evangelical, family-values voters who wag the GOP tail really OK with that?

And when Cain’s lawyer says, in response to the allegation of an affair: “This appears to be an accusation of private, alleged consensual conduct between adults — a subject matter which is not a proper subject of inquiry by the media or the public,” do the morally superior right-wingers buy it, or do they remember that the same argument did Democratic President Bill Clinton little good when House Republicans impeached him?

And how dumb is this: The man who led the charge against Clinton then is now said to be the leading GOP candidate, largely because of Cain’s mounting personal problems. No one can call Newt Gingrich dumb — he won’t let you. But how preposterous is it that he rises on the ashes of Cain’s marital problems?

For those too young to remember: Gingrich has been married three times, but it’s not the numbers that count here. He dumped his first wife, who was his former math teacher, for his second wife while the first wife was in the hospital recovering from surgery for uterine cancer. The compassionate Gingrich served the divorce papers on her in her hospital bed. He then dumped his second wife, who was stricken with MS, for a much younger wife. He was having an affair with this woman at the same time he was leading the congressional campaign against Clinton for adultery.

Yet Gingrich gets the bounce from Cain’s fall over morality? Apparently so, because, unlike most of the rest of the field, Newt knows about Libya and all those other countries and the budget stuff, too. And, although he has good reason to do so, he hasn’t lied about his first name, like Mitt Romney did. The smiling, white bread whatever-you-say-I-agree-with candidate insisted in a debate that “Mitt” is his first name, when it is actually Willard. That is consistent with his lack of credibility on every issue, yet there he is, still the favorite candidate nobody in the GOP wants.

Tell me that’s not dumb. (We’re leaving the not-dumb Ron Paul out of this discussion because the Republicans always do.)

And what about the governor of Kansas? If you do Twitter, you probably heard that a high school senior in Prairie Village, Kansas, was summoned to the principal’s office and told to apologize to Gov. Sam Brownback for comments she made about him after attending a youth conference at which he spoke. The 18-year-old coed tweeted: “Just made mean comments at Gov. Brownback and told him he sucked, in person, #heblowsalot.”

See what I mean about language? Anyway, the girl never actually said that to Brownback, just sent it out to her small group of followers, but the governor’s top aide felt it necessary to monitor social media reaction to the governor and felt the comments were not “respectful.” Duh. She called the school and demanded an apology. Dumb and dumber. The girl, no dummy, said no. First Amendment. The governor backed down and apologized to her. Her Twitter following grew from 60 to 8,000 overnight.

You want another one from last week — the idiot who pepper-sprayed fellow shoppers on Black Friday to get first shot a new X Box. I thought we were stuck in a post-recession economic malaise, but apparently Americans, lacking jobs and losing their homes, felt patriotic and spent billions last week on gadgets and high tech appliances to pump up the economy.

Which bring us back to politics and all those liberals and independents who are giving President Obama so much grief for not being all they think he should be. Have you guys looked at the sorry field of opponents mentioned above? Have you forgotten that, without any help from Republicans in Congress, he passed health care reform, banking reform and tuition reform, repealed don’t ask/don’t tell, got rid of Osama bin Laden and Moammar Gadhafi, effectively ended the war in Iraq, and extended billions in aid to Americans who really were suffering from loss of jobs and/or homes?

Do you think any of those guys would have or could have done any of that? Do you think any of them would do anything but serve their rich benefactors — at the expense of the rest of us — if elected president? When he is under attack from the narrow-minded, mean-spirited, anti-intelligence forces controlling the GOP today, the president needs help from his friends, not more self-centered criticism. This is not Utopia. This is America 2011.

Dumb a**es.

Why I No Longer Watch Boxing

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

By Michael Kaufman
On March 24, 1962 Emile Griffith defended his world welterweight boxing championship against Benny “Kid” Paret. It was their third meeting: the “rubber match.” Griffith had won the first fight, knocking out Paret in the 13th round to win the title in January the previous year. Paret won the rematch by a split decision in September. Then, two months later, Paret made the mistake of challenging Gene Fullmer for the middleweight title. He took a beating from the bigger, stronger Fullmer before getting knocked out in the 10th round. Now just a few months later he was defending the welterweight title against Griffith.

I was 16 then, still learning the fine points of boxing from my father. I also learned a great deal from the astute commentary of Don Dunphy, the great ring announcer for the Friday night fights on ABC-TV’s “Gillette Cavalcade of Sports.” During his 50-year broadcasting career, Dunphy called 200 championship fights and he was at the mike for Griffith-Paret III.

The pre-fight weigh-in had been acrimonious. The Cuban-born Paret taunted Griffith, calling him a derogatory Spanish word for a homosexual. Infuriated, Griffith had to be restrained by his handlers. The animosity carried into the ring as the two battled hard from the opening bell.

Near the end of round six Paret nearly knocked Griffith out with a multi-punch combination but the former champion was saved by the bell. The two then fought evenly for several rounds and in the 12th, Dunphy announced, “This has been a slow round,” just as Griffith was about to unleash a sudden bombardment of punishing blows. He landed 29 punches in a row, the last 18 in six seconds as Paret crumpled helplessly against the ropes. Only then did referee Ruby Goldstein stop the fight. Paret went into a coma and died 10 days later.

Some pointed an accusing finger at “boxing” for Paret’s death, but others blamed Goldstein, who, despite having been a respected veteran referee prior to the bout, never worked another fight. Still others questioned why the New York State Athletic Commission had issued a license to Paret to fight so soon after the pasting he took from Fullmer. Boxing itself lost few adherents. I continued to follow the sport, assuming Paret’s death was an aberration. As far as I knew, the main injuries to boxers were minor cuts, broken noses (like my Uncle Willie had gotten when he boxed in the Navy), and “cauliflower” ears. And every once in a while you might encounter a funny character who acted “punch drunk.” The medical condition now known as “dementia pugilistica” had yet to be defined.

Some six months after the death of Paret, on Sept. 21, 1962, heavyweight Alejandro Lavorante was knocked into a coma in the sixth round of a scheduled 10-round fight with John Riggins in Los Angeles. Lavorante died of injuries sustained in the bout 16 months later. Coming in to the fight with Riggins he had lost five of his six previous matches. In the last two he was knocked out by the young, undefeated Muhammad Ali in the sixth round, and lost via technical knockout to 45-year-old Archie Moore in the 10th. Lavorante was carried from the ring on a stretcher after referee Tommy Hart stopped the fight against Moore, who had been a great light-heavyweight champion and a contender for the heavyweight title, but was far past his prime when he beat Lavorante.

A year after the Griffith-Paret fight, as Lavorante lay dying in a Los Angeles hospital, Davey Moore defended the featherweight championship against Sugar Ramos at nearby Dodger Stadium.

“The fight had been scheduled for 15 rounds,” wrote Morton Sharnik in Sports Illustrated, but in the 10th Moore took such a pounding that his manager, Willie Ketchum, asked the referee to stop it after the bell rang for the end of the round.

Afterward, “Little Davey,” as Sharnik called him, joked with reporters in the dressing room. “Except for a bloodshot left eye, his face was unmarked. It was hard to believe that he had just lost his world featherweight championship in a savage fight.

“But no sooner had the reporters hurried out than Moore clasped both hands to the back of his head and cried out to Ketchum, ‘My head, Willie! My head! It hurts something awful!’ With that, he collapsed into unconsciousness. Ketchum called for an ambulance, and Moore was taken to White Memorial Hospital in Los Angeles.” He died 75 hours later.

As Sharnik reported, Moore’s death led to an outcry against boxing, with California’s then governor Pat Brown and the Pope among those calling for its abolition.
I met Sharnik when I went to Atlanta to cover Muhammad Ali’s return to the ring after Ali’s more than three-year exile for refusing induction into the Army during the war in Vietnam. Sharnik went out of his way to help a young, nervous aspiring sportswriter feel at ease in the crowded press room filled with unfamiliar faces. The fight took place Oct. 26, 1970. Ali knocked out Jerry Quarry in the third round.

Ali knocked Quarry out again in 1972. Joe Frazier also knocked him out twice, in 1969 and 1974; Ken Norton knocked him out in 1975. Quarry retired in 1983. Out of money and already showing signs of blunt force trauma, Quarry returned to the ring on Oct. 30, 1992, losing in six rounds to Ron Cramner. In the years preceding his death Quarry was diagnosed with dementia pugilisitica, brain damage caused by repeated blows to the head. A progressive malady, similar to Alzheimer’s disease, it left the once-affable Quarry virtually helpless and in the care of his family. He died in 1999 at age 53.
“For a sport so bound up with physical violence, there has been an almost criminal lack of controlled, scientific exploration in the area of protecting that primary target of a fighter’s fists, the human head,” wrote Mort Sharnik after the death of Davey Moore. “If boxing is to survive…some protection must be provided for the delicate tissues of the brain….

“The promoters wail that artificial head protection is certain death at the box office, but this is hardly a consideration when the alternative may be death in the ring.” Fifty years have passed since Sharnik wrote those words. Nothing has changed.

Michael can be reached at

Will New York Frack Itself?

Monday, November 28th, 2011

By Jeffrey Page
The people arguing in favor of fracking offered several reasons why this form of extraction of natural gas ought to be approved immediately. Fracking, they said at a public hearing conducted by the Department of Environmental Conservation Tuesday in Loch Sheldrake, would improve the economy, especially the economy of Sullivan County, which has been in the doldrums for as long as I can remember.

It would create jobs. It would lower taxes. Yet DEC says some industries would be negatively impacted by fracking. Industries such as tourism and agriculture, which are the main generators of revenue in Sullivan?

It would help create energy security for the United States, they said. It would allow farmers to remain on their land and not be prey to ever-increasing property taxes.


But after all’s said and done, there are no issues except the water we drink and the air we breathe. Last time I checked, we need both. In fact, I came across an article in Scientific American noting that an infant locked in a hot car without water can be dead in an hour; so can an otherwise healthy adult just in from working out and dehydrated. We can survive longer without food than without water.

I spent an hour at the hearing at SUNY Sullivan listening to the two sides go at each other. It was interesting, though hardly surprising, that not one person speaking in favor of fracking mentioned water and air – except to say that anyone concerned about the effect of fracking on water and air is an “alarmist.” So much for reasoned debate.

The reluctance to discuss water and air as primary issues was understandable. Much easier to address taxes, jobs, and property rights, which aren’t trivial but pale when you compare them with the elements necessary to sustain existence.

Would you put your life at risk or jeopardize your drinking water to ensure the property values of the guy down the road? And now for the emotional pitch: Would you trade your granddaughter’s health for a lower tax bill? You know you wouldn’t.

We’d better be damned sure we know what we’re doing. Have we grown quite so blasé, quite so cocksure that we’d take these chances? You think maybe they were this complacent about their personal safety at Fukushima?

Several pro-frackers spoke of the successes of fracking operations in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia and suggested that there is no danger. But DEC, in a one-page handout, noted several incidents of methane gas pollution, fracturing-fluid releases, and other accidents that have occurred at fracking sites in Pennsylvania. The best DEC could offer was that if we allow fracking in New York, it would be better planned and regulated.

That sounds great, but for me, it recalls the promise of atomic energy back in the 1950s. Were you around? Do you remember when proponents told us that nuclear energy would be “too cheap to meter?”

What a delicious thought. Free electricity. Ask the people of Chernobyl how they made out.

Gigli’s Photo of the Week

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Photography by Rich Gigli

Happy Thanksgiving

Wanted D.O.L.

Be on the lookout for a Thanksgiving Day turkey that has escaped authorities and is on the run. The large white bird is considered armed and dangerous.

Vote Them All Out

Monday, November 21st, 2011

By Jason Poggioli
Some statistics I heard recently are bouncing around in a jumble of incongruousness that has me baffled. Recent polls have shown that the American public’s approval rating for Congress is around 9 percent. As shocking as that sounds, where it really gets into the logical equivalent of nails-on-a-chalkboard is when that is coupled with the typical chance an incumbent politician has of being voted back into office. Last I heard those chances are in the 80-90 percent range.

How is this even remotely possible? Clearly the American public thinks everyone in Congress except for their representative is doing a terrible job. There are probably other factors involved, although I’m definitely not going to rule out the “everyone is terrible, except for mine” syndrome.

It’s true that incumbents have lots more chances to get their faces and names out to the voting public. They usually have more funds at their disposal and more connections. Essentially, they’ve had time to make a career out of being a politician and they dedicate a fair amount of resources to the sole task of getting re-elected. After all, it is their job; wouldn’t you try everything you could to keep it? I can’t say I fault them too much for that.

Here’s the big problem, though. In aggregate, what Congress is doing is pretty much universally panned by the public in polls. Unemployment rates are terrible. The federal deficit is at levels the human mind simply isn’t constructed to comprehend let alone write a budget to deal with it. Congress’ inability to compromise on some of the most basic legislation this past year boggles the mind. And most important, no matter what your political bent, there is a 91 percent chance that you think Congress isn’t doing its job.

However, if statistics hold true, we can expect the vast majority of Congress to be there after the next election.

Why should we accept that in a country that is supposed to be the leader of democratic ideals throughout the world? Where are the calls to simply vote out every incumbent regardless of party affiliation? We all think the congressional arm is doing a lousy job and we all get to vote. So why don’t we vote every last one of them out?

I know this would mean that, gasp, horror of horrors, a Democrat might have to vote for a Republican and vice versa. Maybe it’s even worse than that and you would have to vote for someone who you could see in office only over your dead body. To that I say, “Tough.”

The beauty of a movement like this is that it’s simple and it’s obviously something we already agree on. What would happen if we voted as a single anti-incumbent bloc?

I think calling for the ousting of every incumbent, regardless of party, is the way to properly shake things up in Washington. Let’s put our Republican/Democrat feud to the side for just one election, and instead of arguing policy let’s send a single, simple message. After the Great Election Earthquake of 2012 is over we can all go back to voting for our favorite team, but I feel pretty confident things would be different. At least for a while, everyone on the Hill will have the very real threat of unemployment in the back of his or her mind when it comes time to actually do a job and pass some legislation.

Governing is hard work that requires compromise and always results in some people being unhappy. I think every voter understands that, but what is happening in Washington now is the refusal to compromise results in everyone being unhappy.

Vote them ALL out.

Newt Surges

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

By Jeffrey Page
Look, I don’t know how else to put this so I’ll just come out and say it.

When I grow up, I want to be Newt Gingrich because I can’t think of anyone who gets away with more mischief quite so easily, except perhaps for Dennis the Menace. It’s the kind of naughtiness that would reduce most other pols to a laughing stock. But Newt’s slick.

One stunt after another, our irrepressible Newt just keeps coming back and he’s just so damned cute you want to give him a big hug and say, “It’s all right Newtie. You did bad, but we love ya, ya great little kid.”

Example: What would happen if you were running for president, and took a few weeks off to go on a cruise through the Greek Isles when you should have been campaigning in Iowa? That’s what Newt did, and when his campaign staff quit, he justified his personal Odyssey by saying – without giggling – that the trip had given him sharp new insight into the serious condition of the Greek economy. Newt really did offer that lame brain explanation. He said he spoke with several Greek people about their situation, but he didn’t name any of them.

The story of Newt’s political sliminess has been told before. But there are stories that bear repeating because nowadays, with the Republicans running out of goofballs, Gingrich is striking some people as presidential timber by default.

Most recently, it was reported that Gingrich took $1.6 million from Freddie Mac. It was not for lobbying services but because the federal mortgage agency was interested in history, said Newt, who, coincidentally holds a PhD in history.

It ought to be noted that while Freddie Mac is in the domestic mortgage business, Gingrich’s area of doctoral expertise is elsewhere. In fact, his dissertation was titled: “Belgian Education Policy in the Congo: 1945-1960.”

Then there’s Newt’s undying belief in marriage. He so ardently embraces the traditional form of the institution that he says same-sex marriage is a “temporary aberration” that will go away some day. I don’t know about you, but this somehow strikes me as the moral equivalent of suggesting that the changes in America brought about by Rosa Parks’s bus ride home was a temporary aberration that will go away some day.

“I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman,” Newt said last summer.
So strongly does he hold to the view that if a man wants to get married it must be to a woman that he’s done it three times himself, and some of these relationships even overlapped a little. For more information, consult Jackie Battley Gingrich (No. 1), Marianne Ginther Gingrich (No. 2), or Callista Bisek Gingrich (No. 3) about Newt’s devotion to wedlock.

Once, when he was Speaker of the House, Newt was flying back to America from Jerusalem aboard Air Force One with President Clinton. They had attended the funeral of the assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Gingrich was angry with Clinton’s assigning him a seat in the rear of the plane.

Boy, was he ever miffed. So, being the mature man of principle that he is, Newt retaliated by allowing government to shut down for a while. He figured this was a good way to get back at Clinton.

Enough! I don’t really want to be like Newt. In fact, as a walkaway to this column, I offer you what could be the single best description of Newt ever uttered.

“ … there’s the fact that he appears to be a really irritating, self-involved, pompous jerk. Voters aren’t crazy about that. Not to put too fine a point on it,” said the great Gail Collins in the Times.

Carrie’s Painting of the Week

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

Clinton Marsh

By Carrie Jacobson
Winter is taking its time getting here, and that is OK with me. I find I am loving the muted, color-drained landscapes, pewter instead of chrome, maroon instead of crimson, bronze instead of shining gold. There’s something calming and reassuring in it for me, and it’s pushing me in new directions with my paintings.

Also, former hippie that I am, I find a peculiar delight in a certain sensory confusion that befalls me in spring and in these sorts of falls. I will be walking or driving along, and, especially if the air is sweet and damp and there’s a crisp breeze, I have trouble recognizing the season. Is it March? Is it November? I stumble into these confusions and why I enjoy them, I can’t say, but I do.

I hope you all have blessed Thanksgivings, filled with love and family and the joys of the season.

NBA Players Too Occupied with Greed

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

By Bob Gaydos

Having spent most of five decades tracking, reporting and commenting on the news of the day, I have developed a routine, a defense mechanism actually, for dealing with those days when the news is just too damn depressing. I turn to the sports page.

Of course, in the past couple of decades, sports news has been far from the guaranteed escape from the real world it once was. Some of that is probably due to my evolution as a human being (leaving behind childish things, etc.), but most of it I am sure has to do with the devolution of sports from fun and games to law and order. Hue and cry. Sturm und drang. Sue or be sued. Pick your couplet.

Monday was one of those days. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for some reason decided to go Big Brother on the Occupy Wall Street protestors, sending in hundreds of police before dawn to break up the Zuccotti Park encampment while preventing legitimate news media from covering the action and even arresting several reporters. Instead of trying to talk to protestors and resolve complaints about the occupation, the mayor and police used the oldest and lamest of excuses for their illegal actions against the press — it was for their safety. Right. Just like tossing the protestors belongings into dumpsters was for their health and well-being.

What with police on the West Coast dealing with Occupy movements by beating Iraq War veterans and college students and using tear gas as if they had a quota to meet, I needed a break.

I turned to sports.

Thanks for nothing, NBA players union.

On that very Monday that thousands of Americans across the country, ranging from college students to retirees, union and non-union, encompassing all census classifications — the truly average Americans — were being manhandled for protesting against the profound economic inequities that have turned so many of their dreams into nightmares and bullied a once model political system into becoming an obedient servant of wealthy masters, the very talented, privileged and self-absorbed players of the National Basketball Association rejected an offer from team owners to share half the income derived from playing basketball.

That’s a long sentence; let it sink in.

Not only did the players reject the latest offer from the owners, but they also decided to decertify their union and sue the league under anti-trust laws. We can start with how dumb this is by noting that, with no union, the owners say there are no contracts and, thus, no pay checks. For most Americans, this is considered a powerful incentive to work out a deal, but apparently not for pro basketball players.

That may have to do with the fact that the average salary of an NBA player is about $5.5 million a year. That’s an average, which means even the guy who only gets to play when the game is out of hand, is a borderline millionaire.

What the players did not consider, however, was the impact of their decision on all the other people — the 99% that the Occupiers are demonstrating for — who will also lose their jobs if there is no NBA season. No games means no need for concessions, no maintenance crew, no security, no ticket sellers, no locker room employees, no trainers, maybe even no office personnel for teams with smaller bankrolls. And of course, no games.

The irony of their action, taking place in Manhattan not far from the OWS crackdown, was lost on these young millionaires, locked in a struggle with billionaires over how to divvy up the loot from their overpriced tickets. I will go out on a limb here and state that probably not one of the NBA players — multi-millionaires to borderline millionaires — was part of that 1% of wealthiest Americans before signing a contract to play professional basketball. I don’t ever remember reading a story about some really rich kid deciding to play pro ball. If someone else has, please let me know. No, they were, I feel secure in saying, rock solid members of the 99%. And not long ago, either.

Instead of arguing with the team owners — who will survive a lost season but who do after all have a right to try to control their product and get a fair return on their considerable investments — the NBA players could have taken a cue from other labor unions and marched with the Occupy Wall Street protestors. Imagine Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James walking with the OWS throng and speaking out for the need to regulate the way large financial institutions deal with other people’s money. Calling for a lessening of the power rich corporations have over politicians. Demanding that those who caused the worldwide economic crisis be prevented from continuing to profit on it while others pay the price in lost jobs and homes.

“Hello 99 per centers! We stand with you! We have been fortunate to become successful and be rewarded financially for God-given talents, but we came from you and we understand your frustration and anger with the inequities in our society. It is time for our elected leaders to work for the benefit of the 99%, as well as for the 1% who finance their campaigns. Indeed, it is time for all of us to set aside selfish demands and begin to work for the common good. We are going back to playing basketball, which is what we do, so that others can go back to doing what they do. And we told the team owners we would take a smaller percentage of the profits if they reduced the price of tickets. Whaddya say, owners?”

Can you imagine the response? The players would be real heroes. Unfortunately, for the players at least, that didn’t happen. They’re still looking for more money and are not playing basketball. Fortunately, for the rest of us in the 99%, the Occupiers understand the situation and are committed to fighting for a larger goal — a more equitable society for everyone, whether they can dunk a basketball or not.

Thanking the Hands that Feed Us

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

By Shawn Dell Joyce

Thanksgiving is a holiday built around food. We gather, we gorge, and sometimes acknowledging the hands of the cook, perhaps thanking the divine, but rarely do we honor the hands that feed us.

Growing the food that feeds our country is one of the most thankless and low paying jobs a person could have. In 2002, the median net income for a U.S. farmer was $15,848, while hired hands and migrant workers averaged around $10,000 per year. Farming has become so unpopular that the category was recently removed from the U.S. Census, and federal prison inmates now outnumber farmers.

Migrant pickers often put in long hours, up to12 hour days, earning about 45 cents for each 32-pound bucket of tomatoes. This amount hasn’t risen in over 30 years. At that rate, workers have to pick two-and-a-half tons of tomatoes to earn minimum wage. Most farm workers don’t get sick days, overtime, or health care. Some farmers often don’t fare much better.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. If we stopped putting such an emphasis on “cheap” and instead put an emphasis on “fair” maybe those hands that grow our food could afford to eat as well. Raising farm wages would have little effect on supermarket prices, mainly because farmers and farm workers are paid only about six to nine cents out of every retail dollar spent.

If we raised farm wages by 35 percent and passed that cost to consumers, it would raise the retail price by only a few pennies according to the Center for Immigrant Studies. The total cost to consumers for all fresh produce would add up to less than $34 per year, per family. If we raised wages by 70 percent, that cost would be about $67. Divide this over 52 weekly trips to the supermarket and you’re looking at spending barely a dollar more each week. Wouldn’t you spend that much to know that people didn’t suffer to feed you?

In January 2001, the U.S. Department of Labor informed Congress that farm workers were “a labor force in significant economic distress.” The report cited farm workers’ “low wages, sub-poverty annual earnings, (and) significant periods of un- and underemployment” adding that “agricultural worker earnings and working conditions are either stagnant or in decline.”

For agriculture to be sustainable, it must provide a living for those who work our land. Let’s honor the hands that feed us by restoring the dignity of a fair wage to farmers and farm workers.

Buy your produce from local farms where you can meet the farm workers and see for yourself if they are treated fairly. The smaller the farm, the more likely they are to treat workers well, and often have only family members working the farm.

Carrie’s Painting of the Week

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Wachapreague, VA

By Carrie Jacobson

Sometimes, I feel like I stumble onto things. Sometimes, I feel like I am led.

I was driving back to New England from North Carolina when I turned off the main road and found this small fishing village, at the edge of the most beautiful, pristine salt marsh on the east coast. It is a United Nations-recognized Biosphere Reserve, one of the last large wetlands habitats in the world, according to one of the websites.

About 200 people live there, in this sun-soaked, wind-blown, golden place. It is all sky and light, as pure and clean and lovely as any place I’ve ever been.

I felt I belonged there, maybe more than any place I’ve ever been.

This time, I didn’t stumble. This time, I was led.

If you’re interested in this painting, please email me at It might not be for sale, but it might. It is 20 inches by 20 inches, oil on canvas.