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Investigative Reporting

A working brain tells us ...

| Sunday, June 4, 2006

As gardens go, this year's is phenomenal. And that's a remarkable statement to make considering it's only the first weekend of June.

The cool and damp May was just what the salad spinach, mesclun and chives needed. They are on their eighth, fourth and sixth cuts, respectively.

The leaf lettuce has been growing with verve and a smile. The sweet basil is robust and hard to pass by for a quick pinch and a taste. And the caraway and oregano are pictures of health.

Twenty tomatoes of four varieties -- the largest, on the vine of a Fourth of July, already the size of pingpong balls -- share the vines with at least twice as many blooms. Last week's hot spell, the precursor of the death knell for the salad greens, was just the ducat to allow the big-ticket garden items to get on board.

Speaking of blooms, the cucumber blossoms have formed and should open this weekend. The green beans are not far behind (though screening had to be reapplied to keep the chipmunks at bay). A late hard frost last fall allowed pepper production to continue well into November; high hopes abound again in this year's pepper patch.

Yes, things are going swimmingly in this year's garden. But it's not because of some magical green thumb, luck or the fates of the garden gnomes. It's because of a little self-tutorial in agronomy.

Different fertilizers go best with those salad greens, tomatoes, cukes, beans and peppers. Crops have been rotated. There's a right way and a wrong way to use dehydrated cow manure, just as there are appropriate and inappropriate mixes of sand and peat moss in your soil.

The right mix and match of plants (and spacing of each) can make a world of difference, not only in pest control and yield but also in taste.

And raised beds, where I ply my trade, have different, heavier, water requirements than ground gardens.

So, what• Your usually tart-tongued contrarian commentator has turned into a garden columnist• Hardly. Here's the overriding point:

Knowledge is the key. Lack of knowledge makes for as poor a garden as it does for poor public policy and poor public discourse. And knowledge is what's sorely missing in so many of today's social arguments.

When liberals -- and fallen conservatives seeking to pander to "moderates" -- jerk their knees, their lack of knowledge should be an embarrassment. Instead, it's a source of pride, warped as it is, that they oppose the "extremists" and "right-wingers." But to pervert Forrest Gump, stupid does as stupid is.

A working brain tells us that campaign finance "reform" is patently unconstitutional, that affirmative action is reverse discrimination, that Social Security is not sustainable and that private retirement accounts, allowed to work their investment and compounding-interest magic over decades, will better serve all.

A working brain tells us that lower government tax rates free up more money for private investment and spending that create jobs, that government-imposed wage floors raise costs and reduce entry-level jobs and that markets determine the costs of commodities while price controls create shortages.

A working brain tells us that tax cuts should benefit "the rich" the most because "the rich" pay the most in taxes, that if you get back from the government more than you paid, it's welfare and that the higher the taxes, the less incentive there is to work hard to become "rich."

A working brain tells us that terrorists aren't "militants" or "insurgents" -- they're terrorists -- and that conservatism and constitutionalism aren't radicalism but that many modern-day conservatives can be even uglier socialists than the intellectually homeliest liberal.

A working brain tells us that illegal aliens aren't "immigrants," that a "guest worker" program is amnesty and that amnesties only encourage more illegals to enter our country, which begets future amnesties.

A working brain tells us that taxpayer subsidies create surpluses. Subsidies encourage excess production that suppresses prices that fuel the calls for subsidies that encourage even more excess production.

A working brain tells us that promotion of fossil fuel energy alternatives that take more fossil fuel energy to produce than they create is pork, not "progress."

A working brain tells us that those who shout "Bigot!" the loudest usually are the worst bigots.

A working brain tells us that constantly spending more than you have, then borrowing to pay down the debt while spending at an even a greater rate, is not sustainable.

A working brain tells us that about the only thing government economic development agencies develop is an insatiable appetite for public money to sustain the mirage that they help develop the economy.

A working brain tells us that increasing government entitlements does not save money, that the War on Poverty was a failure (not because it didn't spend enough but because it spent at all) and that government programs do not breed independence but dependence.

A working brain tells us that tax cuts are not a "cost" to the government but the property of the people who paid the taxes in the first place and that government entitlements are not a "benefit" but a cost to the people whence the money was conscripted.

And that same working brain tells us that wealth redistribution is not wealth creation and that the more there is of the former, the less there can be of the latter.

A vegetable garden won't grow very well in a bed of rocks. Neither can a society prosper with a growing contingent of its populace possessing rocks instead of brains and little or no predilection or prompt to gather the knowledge to separate the facts from the feces.

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