Belt Tightening And Flying

We just witnessed a major discussion over our country’s debt problems and it really put all of us in a time of concern that makes me still wonder if we really got it right or not. I understand it has to be tough being the President of the United States, but he did take the job and anyone who has watched Washington very long has to know it is no position to make friends and come out smelling like a rose all the time. Who else has public polls made about them on how much folks really like them or not? I don’t think I would like it when I got up in the morning and found out from a perfect stranger on TV that people in this country think my method of doing things is really not favored by the masses. It has to hurt a bit when your approval rate falls from 62 to 45 overnight just because your jokes fall flat at a state dinner.  

The President and Congress really have a number of people upset over these recent budget proposals. When you start talking about belt tightening and it’s your belt they are wanting to pull on and leave theirs alone, you are going to really see some approval rates take a plunge. Plus, now we have the stock market trying to get in the act. The next few weeks could be a time of reckoning for the citizenry of this country.

It could be somewhat like a story my West Tennessee uncle told me a few years ago that I share often. I don’t know where he got it, but it sure sounds a lot like the current problems we are now facing in budget problems and what some people want.

It seems a couple he knew had always visited Pigeon Forge in the fall. Harry had always wanted to ride on one of those helicopters that circle the mountains up that way, but his wife who controls all the purse strings in the family would always tell him no. In fact, she would always answer with the same quote of, “Harry, I know you want to ride the helicopter but they cost 50 dollars, and 50 dollars is 50 dollars.”

Last fall the same thing, as always, occurred again. Harry asked his wife to ride the helicopter. He said, “I’m almost 86 years old and if I don’t ride the helicopter this year, it may be too late.”

And once again his wife replied, “Harry, I know you want to ride the helicopter but they cost 50 dollars, and 50 dollars is 50 dollars.”

But this time the pilot overheard them talking and said, “I’ll make you good people a deal. I’ll fly you for nothing, but if you say one word, it will cost you 50 dollars.”

Harry and his wife took the pilot up on his deal and made the flight over the beautiful area of Pigeon Forge. However, the pilot tried everything he could think of to make them say something. He tried many stunt tricks and maneuvers that would have made professional pilots scream like a little girl.

When he landed, Harry and his wife had not said a word during the whole flight. The pilot turned to Harry and said, “You are really something else. I tried everything to make you say just one word in fear, but you never said a thing.”  

Harry looked at the pilot and said, “Yeah. I was going to say something when my wife fell out a while back, but you know 50 dollars is 50 dollars.”

Just like Harry, much of the items located in our nation’s budget means a lot to us all. But funding for some projects need to remain for the good of us all.

In 2012 we not only are going to be looking at an election year, but will also be working on new farm legislation that will help feed this country and provide the substance to protect it as well. We can’t be like Harry and let it fall out of the plane and not say anything. A lot of time and study will go into the 2012 Farm Bill and I just hope it is one that will allow our farmers to progress in a way that will allow them to produce and also be able to make a living.

I heard it said the other day that if pro is the opposite of con, and then what is the opposite of progress?



–  Pettus L. Read is Director of Communications for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. He may be contacted by e-mail at

–  Photo by Evan ““ Amos from Wikipedia