Letter: Cake or stew, it’s jobs that help us eat

In last week’s issue of the Rappahannock News, Walter Nicklin managed to muddle a number of important issues by dumping those issues into one big stew pot [“Let them eat cake?,” July 18]. His points are important, so let me briefly unravel those various issues as I see them.

First, the half century of bipartisan consensus he cites is a red herring. If I recall correctly, it came about as a deliberate politically driven byproduct of the Johnson administration, to assure passage of one more welfare agenda item of the Great Society by linking it to an existing popular program to support farmers.

So for half a century our gutless politicians have kept this abomination alive. It was high time to decouple these unrelated pieces of legislation, farm support and SNAP (Food Stamps), to let each one stand on its own merits. How can it be a Farm Bill when 80 percent relates to the welfare component?

Concerning Mr. Nicklin’s view that “Big Ag’s” campaign contribution could have been better spent by giving it to Rappahannock County for food subsidies, I just want to point out that Rep. Robert Hurt’s district covers about 25 percent of the state. What about all those other counties and their needs? I guess I just don’t understand the logic behind Mr. Nicklin’s statement about contributions. Is he saying that Mr. Hurt was bought by Big Ag? Or that Big Ag should not be allowed to make contributions? What is Big Ag, anyway?

I agree that the Farm Bill needs some significant overhaul, but I seriously challenge his assertion that the money only flows to “already wealthy farmers.” Look around our county and let me know which farmers are already wealthy and are getting all the corporate welfare support.

Lastly, the issue of our county’s need for SNAP support. Yes that is a shocking number, with 12 percent of our population (and 25 percent of the children) getting SNAP support. I think that we have a lot of hand wringing about our underprivileged (or whatever the current P.C. terminology is), but I see no real solutions ever put forth. Another fundraiser to support this or that aspect of affordable housing, kids needing more opportunities in learning and recreation, getting more products at the food pantry; none of these are real solutions.

What we need are opportunities for meaningful employment. I believe that there are presently just so many opportunities for handymen, landscapers and wood cutting businesses. More B&Bs won’t help either, nor will more restaurants. Most of these mom-and-pop ventures operate on a subsistence basis, with no real impact on providing relevant jobs. We resist any and all attempts to get significant businesses into the county. We like our county just as it is.

The truth is that we seem to live in a never-never land like Peter Pan and won’t face reality. While I constantly hear that we want our kids to be able to stay in this great place and raise their families here, there are no real opportunities to achieve economic self sufficiency for many of our young folks. Our only real employer of note is the county itself. And lest we forget, the county can only pay its bills with our tax money.

So what are we doing about the basic problem?

Bill Freitag
Flint Hill

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