Said is dead, she announced as she walked through the door one afternoon. My wife and I looked up, trying to get a grasp on this proclamation. “What?” I asked.
“Yes, that's right,” my fourth grader continued. “My teacher says ‘said is dead.’ I've got to write a paper today and I can't use said because ‘said is dead.’”
A couple of hours later, I realized just what an impact such a proclamation can have.
Here's what she wrote:
I went to the doctor because I felt sick. The doctor looked at the thermometer. “You are very sick,” the doctor gasped. Then he moaned the words, “You must get in bed.” I wailed with fear. The nurses were sad. “You are very sick,” they sobbed.
Before I left his office, the doctor wept and gave me a shot. “This will hurt you more than it hurts me,” he exclaimed. The end.
My fourth grader is one to take words very literally. A lot of times we're not a whole lot different in the way we take words.
In the mid-1990s, farmers were greeted with the new words, “Freedom to Farm.”
This title implied a new era of agriculture, one where the markets would drive the production and the prices would reflect that. By and large, it hasn't been that way. Farmers continue the downhill spiral among their numbers.
While the rest of the economy was booming in the 1990s, agriculture wasn't keeping pace. I've heard lots of explanation about why that was the case.
But the explanations, although plausible and probable, are of little benefit to a person on the verge of going out of business or already on the outside looking in.
I was taken to task recently for saying that farm programs have worked. I cited land values as a for instance.
OK, any pronouncement requires some proof. And when that proof doesn't pan out, then there needs to be an adjustment.
“Said is dead” may be a good way to teach fourth graders how to write, but we'll use ‘said’ in a functional way to get across the message at least a hundred times in this magazine.
I remember hearing the same talk about the word ‘that’ from a college instructor. She'd mark off every time I used the word that in a paper — that poor woman. She didn't know that that was a good word to use in that paper.
Back in the world of U.S. agriculture, “Freedom to Farm” was a nice alliterative way to describe a new, bold farm policy, but in practice took on the name of “Freedom to Fail.”
And at this writing there's still not a replacement to what some have described as “Freedom to Fail” — and the new season is almost upon us.
The question must be asked, “Why?”
If ‘said is dead’ and “Freedom to Farm” has failed, then change is overdue. And then evaluate the policy change down the road.
It's like Will Rogers said, “We should be thankful that we don't get all the government we pay for.”
Otherwise, the story will continue. “I'm going out of business,” the farmer wept.