Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN


August 30, 2013

Stumptalk: Sustainable and affordable

CROSSVILLE — I recently heard an ad on the radio for the “Cumberland Sustainable Farmers’ Market.” Words like sustainable and organic sanctify environmental language. Eating organic tomatoes from sustainable gardens provides a spiritual lift, a form of environmental communion.

I’ve eaten a lot of tomatoes in my life and have grown a few, but of course my tomato plants here in Cumberland County have had to be sprayed with fungicide to keep them from being destroyed by tomato blight, which probably means they were neither sustainable nor organic. Nevertheless, they have sustained me, especially when I’ve made BLT sandwiches with large slices of newly baked bread slathered with lots of cholesterol producing Duke’s mayonnaise, my unsanctified tomatoes, fresh lettuce, and delicious crispy bacon from a slaughtered porcine animal. I get hungry just thinking about them.

My father always planted a large vegetable garden each spring, from which we ate every day in the summer, and my mother canned vegetables for the rest of the year. But alas, my father used insecticides and, true to her country roots, my mother flavored pots of cooked vegetables with fatback. So my father’s large gardens were neither sustainable nor organic. Nonetheless, my sister, brother, and I were skinny, healthy and active children. Our children have produced 20 of the same kind of skinny grandchildren.

Unfortunately, my father lived to only age 97. My mother to only 98. Think of how long they would have lived had they eaten organically grown food from sustainable gardens!

I hear the words sustain or sustained mostly when I watch court room dramas. “Objection sustained!” the judge replies. Judges sustain a lot of objections in these shows. Of course, objections are never unsustained, only overruled.

I’ve watched actual trials over the years on TV and once as a juror. Maybe I should keep score to see how many sustainable objections occur in the course of a trial because it’s obvious to me from the current use of the word that sustainable objections are far superior to the other kind.

Another curious verbal phenomenon is the relatively new use of the word affordable. In the old days, we used terms such as cheap, inexpensive or low cost. Now, people apply the word affordable, probably to keep low income folks from feeling bad.

The phrase affordable housing is used constantly by people who have no need of it. We used to call cheap housing inexpensive. It was often subsidized by taxpayers, and subsidized apartment complexes were called projects. Comedian Bill Cosby and economist Walter Williams often brag about growing up in Philadelphia’s projects.

Another phrase for inexpensive housing, Section Eight housing, which must refer to something in the U.S. Code, is rarely used these days. I know that people fight to keep Section Eight housing from being built in or near their neighborhoods. I guess the phrase affordable housing doesn’t create the same level of opposition, or perhaps those who want to lower property values by building Section Eight projects in middle class communities think it doesn’t.

But isn’t everything affordable by someone? I can afford everything I have. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have it. Bill Gates can certainly afford rich people’s many toys: yachts, limousines, sports cars, and race horses, also houses, vacation resorts, and airplanes. Everything he owns is affordable.

However, there is a paradox emerging with the Affordable Care Act, better known as ObamaCare. From the looks of things, ObamaCare will be terribly unaffordable; otherwise, many of the President’s own supporters would not be seeking exemptions from it. Among these supporters are government employees, the labor unions, and rent-seeking businesses.

But why wouldn’t people want to take advantage of something that’s labeled affordable? Could it be that it’s inappropriately named? Has it become the Unaffordable Care Act? According to the president, the Affordable Care Act was supposed to save families $2,500 dollars a year. He must have miscalculated, or maybe he is not good at arithmetic. But then, if one is of a particular frame of mind, he doesn’t have to know arithmetic, especially when it comes to money, because he knows that wealth comes from that great Federal Reserve administered ATM in the sky.

• • •

Stumptalk is published weekly in the Crossville Chronicle. The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the Chronicle publisher, editor or staff. To contact Stumptalk, email coordinator Jim Sykes at

Text Only
  • We the People: The last dance

    Charlie Hayden’s last recording session with his early partner, Keith Jarrett, was in 2007.  The songs they played were mostly melancholy.  The second album coming from that session includes Weil’s “My Ship” and Porter’s “Every Time We Say Goodbye.” The dark ballad “Goodbye,” by Gordon Jenkins, was the final track.

    July 22, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Living in a pressure cooker

    The Gaza Strip, a small Palestinian territory about the size of Washington, D.C., has been in the news almost every day.  Its key location at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea has attracted a number of occupying powers over the years, and it has  been at the center of much Middle East history.

    July 22, 2014

  • Tidbits: The excitement of election day

    On March 12, 1996, there were 427,183 votes cast in the presidential primary election. Among those votes was mine, the first vote I cast in an election, just two days after my 18th birthday.

    July 21, 2014

  • Raising the minimum wage

    My first job from which FICA was withheld was a minimum wage job, seventy-five cents an hour. And yes, even then no one could live on that little money. However, I was a high schooler living at home where my father provided room and board. The job gave me pocket money to buy gasoline, to take my girlfriend out for movies and burgers, and to buy tickets for baseball games.

    July 21, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Children on the move

    The news this past week has focused on the humanitarian crisis developing on our southern border. Thousands of unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras seeking to escape from the violence, human trafficking and extreme poverty in their countries have been entering the United States.

    July 15, 2014

  • We the People: Memo to gun rights groups

    The recent incident in California helps us understand why we cannot rely on mental health services alone to solve the problem of gun violence.

    July 15, 2014

  • Tidbits: Make the best of your road trip

    I didn’t care for road trips when I was young. It was so confining to have to sit in the back seat, staring out the window for hour after hour, hayfield after hayfield. And when you’re a kid, time doesn’t pass like it does when you get a little older. Just the trip from Jamestown, TN, to Crossville, roughly 30 miles, felt like an eternity!

    July 14, 2014

  • Stumptalk: Biased climate agenda will cost trillions

    For anyone who has been educated in the history of science and scientific method, this whole issue of “Global Warming” or “Climate Change” is an embarrassing and painful exercise.

    July 14, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Time for an oil change

    The land of Iraq, earlier known as Mesopotamia, has a long history going back to Neanderthal times some 60,000 years ago. Later, around 10,000 years ago, it became the site for some of the most important developments in human history: the invention of the wheel, planting of cereal crops, the development of cursive script, mathematics, astronomy and agriculture. Today it is recognized as one of the cradles of civilization.

    July 8, 2014

  • We the People: American women, be informed and vote

    Voting for today’s Republican Party and its Tea Party members, means you are voting against more than most realize.  This is especially true for women.

    July 8, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Disabled Veterans Memorial Nearing Completion Last Mass Lynching in U.S. Remains Unsolved Home-sharing Programs Help Seniors Ex-NYC Mayor: US Should Allow Flights to Israel Clinton: "AIDS-Free Generation Within Our Reach" Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban Airlines Halt Travel to Israel Amid Violence NYPD Chief Calls for 'use of Force' Retraining VA Nominee McDonald Goes Before Congress Bush: Don't Worry, Sugarland Isn't Breaking Up US Official: Most Migrant Children to Be Removed Police Probing Brooklyn Bridge Flag Switch CDC Head Concerned About a Post-antibiotic Era Raw: First Lady Says `Drink Up' More Water Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Holder Urges Bipartisanship on Immigration Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball US Airlines Cancel Israel Flights Obama Signs Workforce Training Law Crash Victims' Remains Reach Ukraine-held City
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice
Graduation 2014