Mow money, mow problems

Ron Hart Ron Hart is a libertarian humorist and author who can be reached at Ron@RonaldHart.com.
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HARRISON, Tenn. — After spending a few days in Atlanta last week, it was nice to get back to Tennessee and the country for a while. Atlanta streets have so many bone-jarring pot holes that some have Starbucks in them. The “Pothole Posse,” a name the former mayor gave the team tasked with filling in some of these massive craters (some big enough to bass-fish in), must have saddled up and left town.

Atlanta is the “City Too Busy to Hate,” which leaves it ample time to tax.

Crime in some areas is so bad that, in a recent 5K race, the starter’s gun drew return fire and the finish line ribbon was crime scene tape.

Life is simpler in the country. It mitigates big city life, where government continues to tell us how to live. Tennessee is called the Volunteer State because they cannot make you live there. Its government knows that and acts accordingly. Tennessee has no state income taxes, good solid Senators and few unions; therefore, it continues to attract businesses. Volkswagen is building a plant near my place there.

To keep one’s balance in life, it is important to spend time in the country. The good people there give you perspective and a ride if you need one. At the lake in Tennessee it is “The Season,” which means lawn mower racing season. When you see a sign like this, you have to attend.

The lawn mower races attract the type of folks you might imagine: men who use a highlighter when they read “Field and Stream” and can field dress a squirrel. I’m pretty sure many of these folks have been involved in a custody fight over a “Legends of NASCAR” commemorative plate collection.

Two modern miracles, the siphon hose and the beer cooler, were on display at this gathering of Americana. Before the advent of the beer cooler, the best way to chill your beverage was to leave it in the creek. I find comfort in being around men who can fix anything and take pride in that ability. These are folks who do not want to take from others for their sustenance; the only thing they want from government is to be left alone. Whatever our federal government does, they prefer that it be done to some other state, preferably Kentucky.

In fact, the only government program one might arguably call a success, the Tennessee Valley Authority, was spawned in Tennessee. In an aberrant and odd use of government, the TVA actually produces things Americans need: hydroelectric and nuclear power, fertilizer manufacturing, flood control, recreational lakes, and barge transportation routes. In an Obama-nation where federal power is exerted in legislation that, by the second page, treads on dubious constitutional grounds, the TVA seems overlooked as a government-owned, independent corporation with $11 billion in revenue and an operating income of about $2 billion in 2009.

If Obama does not shut it down for making an evil profit and providing 9 million customers with products they want at competitive prices, the TVA may be the only thing the Federal government has been involved in that actually helps us Americans. The good people of Tennessee were a big part of TVA’s success.

Back to the lawn mower races because I know you want to know who won. In a field of contestants with names like Chester, DeWayne, Floyd, Larry and the like, one Dale Earnhardt distinguished himself in this epic contest. The imagination it took to install a gun rack on a lawn mower earned him style points with the judges.

Little is known of the origins of lawn mower racing, except that it has its roots in the notion that people in this country can do what they damn well please. This also explains the Tea Party movement, and why Tracy City, Tenn., just elected a dead person over an incumbent. Maybe it was to be sure the new mayor was more responsive to the citizens’ desires or would not steal; my guess it was to send a message to Washington.

I hope incumbents are listening. The Obama administration is busy in its “war rooms” figuring how to spin opponents as racists. Democrats have war rooms for everything—but war.

A syndicated libertarian op-ed humorist, Hart’s columns appear in 40 papers nationwide.

His recent book is available on Amazon or at www.RonaldHart.com. His email is Ron@RonaldHart.com