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Fishing for independence
Feb. 10, 2014
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by Ivan Raconteur

There’s an adage about giving a guy a fish, which will feed him for a day, or teaching him to fish, which will feed him for a lifetime.

In the first example, the guy will remain dependent on someone else to provide his daily fish.

In the second example, the guy will be able to gather his own fish. In other words, he will be independent.

The folks who founded this country were fiercely independent, and that pioneer spirit has survived throughout our history.

Many people still believe in doing things for themselves.

Unfortunately, not everyone is as committed to independence.

I recently encountered a striking example of how government has done a complete turnaround on this issue.

The headline of the piece states, “Uncle Sam expects you to keep hens and raise chickens.”

A subhead notes “two hens in the backyard for each person in the house will keep a family in fresh eggs.”

The piece explains even the smallest backyard has space for enough chickens to supply a family with eggs for very little cost.

“Every backyard in the US should contribute its share to a bumper crop of poultry and eggs in 1918,” the piece proclaimed.

This piece was published during World War I, and citizens were expected to contribute toward their own needs.

This thinking was not limited to wartime.

“In time of peace a profitable recreation. In time of war, a patriotic duty,” the piece proclaimed, regarding the keeping of backyard chickens.

The government encouraged citizens to contact their state agricultural college or the US Department of Agriculture in Washington, DC for information about how to keep chickens in their own backyards.

That is a pretty strong position. The government didn’t just allow people to keep chickens, it encouraged it, and even went so far as to call upon citizens to keep their own chickens as a patriotic duty.

Things have changed a lot since 1918.

Instead of encouraging and allowing people to be independent and raise some of their own food, some government entities discourage people from doing so, or even prevent it.

There is plenty of information available about the wholesomeness of home-grown food.

There are cities of all sizes that permit residents to keep chickens in their backyards. When done right, this practice will have no negative impact on their neighbors.

There has been renewed interest lately in people planting their own gardens and keeping their own chickens.

Their reasons for wanting to do so are the same reasons their predecessors did these things a century ago. They want quality food, and they want to save money.

The only difference is, instead of encouraging these practices, some government entities discourage it.

Education would solve a lot of the problem.

By learning the facts and passing clear, sensible ordinances, elected officials have an opportunity to accommodate residents who want to keep chickens to enhance their own independence, while protecting neighbors who may have concerns about the practice.

We need to teach more people to fish, and encourage them to do so, rather than conditioning people to expect others to provide fish for them.


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