Following Procedure Depends On Who Has The Ball

Over in South Carolina, a few years ago, 200 catfish lost their lives. After careful investigation by local authorities and noticing that most of the creatures had large grins on their whiskery faces, they found the cause of death to be from actions by local moonshiners. It seems two brothers were accused of dumping illegal moonshine into the pond, which caused a depletion of oxygen in the water. The results from their hasty disposal of the “fruits from their labor” were the fatalities of over 200 catfish.

There are several directions I could go with this story, like asking the question were the fish fried or stewed, but I’ll not lower myself to that low level of journalistic humor and verse which I normally do, and you expect, since I have gone that low before and quite often. But, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environment did better than what I could ever think up as humorous by what they said in an issued statement back then.

After finding the fish kill and accusing the two still operators of pouring the moonshine into the pond, it is reported the department said the two moonshiners should have hauled the moonshine to the nearest wastewater treatment plant instead of disposing of it in the pond.

I don’t know about you, but it is hard for me to believe moonshiners are going to take illegal shine to their local municipal wastewater treatment plant to get rid of a recently conjured up brew that may have gone bad. I am sure it may have sounded like a good idea to the person at the Health and Environment department, but common sense tells me that a person doing something illegal is not going to involve his local government agency when he needs to get rid of the evidence.

It is amazing how government regulation and proper procedure can override an intelligent person’s thought waves sometimes. Regulations are good when issued and enforced with common sense. However, today regulations in many areas are going beyond common sense and are having disastrous affects that many times do not help the average citizen in the long run.

We have over regulated many industries to the point where it is more profitable to go out of business than to come up to standards required by regulations. Federal regulation has made the meat and food processing business for the small businessman totally out of reach in many cases. The farming community has seen this happen often when it involves CAFOs and especially the dairy industry.

  I recently received a story from an anonymous source that brings some of this closer to our thinking this time of the year. Since we all are getting in tune for football time in our great state, this story may have more impact.

It seems it was a particularly tough football game, and everyone’s nerves were on edge. The home team had been the victim of three or four close calls, and they were now trailing the visitors by a touchdown and a field goal. When the official called yet another close one in the visitors’ favor, the home quarterback blew his top.

“How many times can you do this to us in a single game?” he screamed. “You were wrong on the out-of-bounds, you were wrong on that last first down, and you missed an illegal tackle in the first quarter.”

The official just stared. He was only following procedure from the rules book.

This made the quarterback even madder, but he suppressed the language that might get him tossed from the game. “What it comes down to,” he screamed, “is that you STINK!”

The official stared a few more seconds. Then he bent down, picked up the ball, paced off 15 yards, and put the ball down. He turned to face the steaming quarterback.

The official finally replied, “And how do I smell from here?”

Over regulation can stink, but unless you have the ball, you could find yourself out of business.  




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