Wednesday Roundup: Paying for Fish Stories

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Would you pay $80.75 to sit in an audience and listen to some guys talk about fishing?

Somebody will, apparently. We see that the Paramount Theater in Austin, Texas, is selling tickets for “A Night With Captain Sig & The Hillstrand Brothers of Deadliest Catch.”

We are Deadliest Catch fans. It’s the reality TV show that follows Alaskan crab fishermen as they bounce around the Bering Sea reeling in crab and getting colder than a well digger’s…..

The ship captains have some on-shore gigs now bringing “the intimate world of crab fishing to a live audience”  with more money and time than good sense.

•USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack is getting less than stellar reviews for his conversation (taped and then published) with Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein. 

How bad, you ask? Here’s The Economist magazine: “IN THIS chat with Ezra Klein, Tom Vilsack, the secretary of agriculture, offers a pandering defence of agricultural subsidies so thoroughly bereft of substance I began to fear that Mr Vilsack would be sucked into the vacuum of his mouth and disappear.” 

This episode began with a blog post (titled “Why we still need cities”) by Klein quoting from a new book by Harvard Economist Ed Glaeser. Glaeser’s point is that cities are the places where new economies are built. Klein says this is true (and it is), and then goes on to say that it “would be political suicide for President Obama to say that part of winning the future is ending the raft of subsidies we devote to sustaining rural living.” 

This upset Vilsack, who thought it was a “slam on rural America.” Vilsack called Klein and proceeded to bumble his way through a defense of rural America by saying farmers work hard and rural people are good. 

Well, they do and they are, but Vilsack’s defense entirely misses the point. First, we don’t know if there really are a “raft of subsidies devoted to sustaining rural living.” Okay, there are crop subsidies, but that affects a very small part of rural America. Besides, there are city subsidies, too — for transportation systems and airports and central water systems and so on. When transmission lines cut across farms and ranches across the Great Plains to bring power from rural communities to the cities, does Klein count that as a “subsidy” for urban living?

Do city people get more “subsidies” than rural people? Klein doesn’t know, Vilsack doesn’t know and we don’t know. But it is knowable.

Second, Vilsack talks like rural America consists only of farmers. It doesn’t. Farms and farmers are a tiny part of the rural economy. Teeny tiny. Both Klein and Vilsack miss the point that rural and urban are interconnected and that both need the other to survive. 

Read the great debate and see if you agree with us that the whole thing was just plain stupid.

• House cuts to the Legal Services Corporation would result in cuts of 370 staff lawyers who provide civil legal help to low-income Americans and it would result in some offices in rural areas being closed down

• Actress Hillary Swank’s father has moved back to Ringgold County, Iowa. He’s bought the former Immaculate Conception Church and is fixing it up. Steve Swank grew up in Ringgold County (Pop. More than 5,000). 

• A spike in air pollution has pushed the ozone count in the Upper Green River Basin in Wyoming higher than the worst day in Los Angeles in 2010. Part of the cause for the ozone buildup is increased gas drilling.

• A bill has been introduced in the Florida state senate that would make it a felony to take a picture of a farm without the owner’s permission. It’s apparently an anti-Humane Society bill. 

• The blizzard in the Northeast collapsed the roof of the Shelburne Farm’s barn near Burlington, killing some of the farm’s animals. 

 

 

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