Views from the Secretary

Views from the Secretary
Normally, the season of brisk nights, cool days and long shadows was Harry's favorite time of year, but the corn harvest was not good this year.

Despite the comfort of his combine cab and a welcome day of sunshine, harvest was not fun. The yield was poor and the condition not much better due to prolonged drought.

Harry estimated the corn would bring in about twice the costs of harvesting it, but only half his total production costs. "That's better than nothing," he thought to himself as he watched a shiny, new, black Suburban pull up to the end of his field.


Even before two men in suits got out, Harry knew the visitors were city boys. They parked on the down-wind side of where the combine would come out. After the combine stopped and the dust settled, Harry climbed down from the cab to greet them.

"What can I do for you boys?" he asked.

"Well, sir, we are from the federal government," one said.

"What's your business out here?" Harry replied.

"We are here to check out your dust," the short one said. "We are with the United States Environmental Protection Agency," the tall one added.

"What's wrong with my dust," Harry asked.

"Well sir, there is simply too much of it. A properly functioning combine should not emit as much dust as is coming from yours. We could see it for two miles and we are here to take some measurements to determine exactly how much above the permitted amount you are emitting," the little one explained.

Harry raised the brim of his hat up and scratched his forehead with three dirty fingers and shook his head in disbelief. After a moment he said, "Now look here, boys. You seem to be a little confused about the reality of things. You do know, don't you, that combines don't make dirt? They just blow around what God put on the crop. I don't make dirt. I just move it around for a living."

"Be that as it may sir, you are polluting the air we all breathe and it's illegal," the small guy said.

"So what's your point?" Harry asked.

"The point is that you could receive a citation and possibly be forced to pay a fine if our readings support our observations," the taller one explained.

"OK. Tell me this. Would you be willing to issue the same citation to any piece of equipment making a similar dust cloud in this county," asked Harry.

"Absolutely. You just point him out and I will write him up right now," the little one said.

"I'm mighty glad to hear that. Give that ticket to your partner here because I saw you fellows coming for three miles down that dirt road kicking up a cloud of dust while producing absolutely nothing. I will feel much better about my ticket, knowing that at least it was for something. I help produce the food you boys eat and, even if I stir a little dust, it's worth doing," Harry said.

Harry got on his combine, turned its tail into the nose of that shiny new vehicle and put the thresher and header in gear. The boys in the dirty tan Suburban left.

Not all stories worth telling are true.

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