It is planting time again, and Tie Rod sure hopes Bonnie got his seeds out and started for him. Tie Rod only knows two things about Bonnie, her cup size, and the fact that she controls the food supply of the South.
Every now and then Tie Rod will try to save seed, but like most things he tries to save, he forgets where he put it. So he gets his food supply from Bonnie, which he knows deep down is a shortcut to famine.
Bonnie is probably some little lady in a long dress and a bonnet with rough old hands, or could be more like Bill Clinton's mother.
Tie Rod is in the midst of the big battle in the mountains, which is food vs. jobs.
People who can't make their own food have to buy it from others and that takes selling something, or having a job.
Tie Rod's kin have always made fun of their ancestors for selling mineral off, but now this generation cannot resist the huge price it gets for selling some corporation the right to change the surface from a place where you can make food to a place where you cannot make food.
From mountains to not mountains.
So if you cannot sell out the home place, your other option is to go to work for the strippers. They hire a few people and pay them well.
Sure, surface miners might have cost 20,000 mining jobs in the mountains, but those guys would have had to go under the hill and respect it, while a stripper can blow it off.
They promise years and years of mountaintop removal jobs, but Tie Rod can't figure what mountain will be left then to rearrange.
He knows that one of two things will happen. Either the government will kill those jobs now and we can still make food with a cow and some hogs and a garden patch and a cornfield on a high meadow, with abundant clean water.
Or they will keep those jobs another 20 years or so until the coal is gone and so is the land, and we will be left with a region with its topsoil gone, undrinkable water and certain flooding every time it thunders.
Tie Rod was raised to know that food was more important than jobs. He was taught how to raise food with a switch, by a lady in a long dress and a bonnet who had never had a job, but could pickle.
Tie Rod was a miner long enough to draw, but he went under the hill, like a man ought to, and when the signs were right, he would call in sick and stay home and plant whatever it was time for. He would tell the foreman he was gravely ill, and the foreman knew what he meant.
In this debate on how much government do we need and do we need to pay for all we get, Tie Rod thinks the government should be like an old Gravely tractor. Tough, dependable, there when you need it, starts easy, and you can shut it off. You do have to keep giving it juice to run.
This Tea Party set is a threat to Tie Rod's checks. Tie Rod is glad he is out of mining now that a company doctor is one senator and the company superintendent is the other.
In three months, The Mr. Dr. Sen. Paul, Ron Son Rand, has said any black-lung regulation which stifles coal production is too burdensome. Supt. McConnell has come out against a coal company having to get a permit to do anything.
And the best friends the average coal miner has got, the ones who want to keep him from famine and want, are portrayed as his enemy.
Larry Webster is a Pikeville attorney.