FmHA, but the agency is not known for its ability to inform farmers of those rights or grant them before they are demanded. Too often the hotline is not called until the last minute, but Gallimore will use expensive overnight mail whenever it is needed: “I ask myself, is it worth $10 to keep this farmer on his land? You bet it is.” Once the call is made, Gallimore collects all the information she can get, a task which is sometimes difficult. “To these farmers, going broke means doing something wrong,” says Gallimore. “It’s difficult for them to say how broke they are to some woman on the other end of the line, you know.” But, when more than 6,000 Texas farmers are listed as “delinquent” by the FinHA, and when those who call the hotline are middle-aged and experienced farmers, there are good reasons to suspect we are not witnessing the weeding of bad farmers. We’re seeing the outright damage of bad agricultural policies. we can still believe that the government is us. As soon as we decide we want fair government on the farm, the FmHA will stop wringing out the little guy. That’s why Farm Aid is important. It reminds us that we still enjoy a government of the people whenever the people are not too cynical or too timid to want it. Our reasons for wanting a fair government can vary. Justice itself is a compelling notion. Or perhaps those of us living in the oil bust don’t want a farm bust as well. Or perhaps we sense the danger in this harvest of bitterness and confusion, where adults and children alike are ready to give up on the promise of America. And maybe it’s finally time that we looked beyond the Hollywood dazzle of the Reagan administration, beyond its deficits of compassion, and began caring again for the real folks who buy the tickets. Whatever our reasons for making America a land of fairness, we should know that Farm Aid has already made the commitment and that real work lies ahead. The hotline is a good example to demonstrate how Farm Aid is working. Once the $25,000 in seed money was provided, a group of active and competent service organizations teamed up in cooperative effort. The Texas Conference of Churches assumed sponsorship. Support sponsors now include Texas Rural Legal Aid, Gulf Coast Legal Services, and the Texas Department of Agriculture. Austin attorney Mitchell Green provided office space until the TDA offered a small warehouse in May. And Milburn Travel of Austin now donates a portion of its income to the hotline. Farm Aid is making it possible for farmers to hope and to work for reform and survival. That’s why Gallimore was able to report calls in early July from farmers who said, “If you see Willie, tell him we said thanks.” Today Gallimore continues to take calls in a small steel warehouse on the outskirts of Austin. Of course the calls of encouragement are too few and too far between, but because of Farm Aid, for embattled Texas farmers, at least, there is still such a thing as a free phone call. LI FORTUNATELY, THE FmHA is only the government, and after a good dose of July 4th rhetoric POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE r/ A conservative Texan, Cong. Marvin Leath, seeks to capitalize on liberal displeasure with the chairman of the House Armed Services committee and hopes to replace him. Les Aspin of Wisconsin, the chairman, broke his word when he voted for aid to the contras, according to Speaker Tip O’Neill. Rep. Charles Bennett of Florida has announced his aim of replacing Aspin as chairman. Leath, 14th-ranking Democrat on the committee \(compared Washington Post he considers himself a conservative who agrees with liberals in believing the Pentagon must be reformed and the Reagan military-, spending program was too much, too soon. $/’ Congressman Mac Sweeney, freshman Republican from Wharton, appears to be in serious trouble. The Houston Chronicle has quoted three employees of his House staff that they were required to work on his re-election campaign in order to retain their jobs. At federal law, such a requirement is a crime punishable by up to a year in jail and a $10,000 fine. Apart from the testimony of the three, there is a memo that was written by a member of Sweeney’s staff informing his workers in his Texas congressional office that they would be “required to help and attend” political parties, dinners, votegetting walks, and yard-sign distributions.’ Sweeney disavows the memo as an underling’s mistake, and a staffer implicated by one of the resigned employee’s charges denies wrongdoing. V Houston leads the nation in the number of toxic chemical mishaps reported annually. “This is the petrochemical capital of the world, and if you’re moving more chemicals than anybody else, there’s a good chance you’re going to have more problems than anybody else,” said a supervisor of the city’s hazardous materials unit. The unit has faced as many as eight chemical accidents in a day and as many as three at one time; 576 such incidents were reported in 1985. Romeo: What Shall I Swear By? Juliet: Swear Not At All. V In Huntsville, the eight-member group, People vs. Pornography, is trying to bring criminal charges or a boycott against stores selling sexually-oriented magazines. The group’s members, which include police officers and members of the Second Baptist Church, claim that magazines such as Penthouse and Playboy are immoral and can lead some people to commit sex crimes. The Second Baptist Church pastor said that “after exposure to pornography, some 35-year-old men have trouble walking down the beach filled with healthy young girls.” Anti-pornography efforts in other parts of the country have targeted literary books such as J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. Last year, high school textbook publishers deleted 400 lines from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet because of complaints of sexual suggestions and swearing in the play. V And who else but Mel Gabler, the self-appointed Minister of School Textbook Ideology from Longview, might we expect to show up at the “Scopes II” trial in progress in Greeneville, Tennessee? Gabler told a U.S. District Court that schoolbooks are “indoctrinating” children with the philosophy of secular humanism, according to the Washington Post of July 19. The trial pits People for the American Way against Concerned Women for America in a suit over whether fundamentalist parents can demand that schools provide alternative readings that don’t offend their religious beliefs. According to the Post, one of the books the plaintiffs object to is Riders on the Earth, which talks of THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9
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