• Last modified 395 days ago (Aug. 27, 2020)


A gluten-free editorial with sea salt

These days, if you want a product to sell in a supermarket, you’d better put words like “gluten free,” “GMO free,” “fat free,” or “sugar free” somewhere on its label.

We wonder how long it will be before news organizations have to start labeling stories “COVID free” or even “Trump free” before people will be willing to read them.

A false alarm involving a student in one of Tabor’s dorms notwithstanding, our county’s record, which ended Tuesday, of five consecutive days without a new COVID case is a considerable accomplishment, which we hope even those weary of COVID stories will note.

It’s not that the coronavirus has been eclipsed. It’s just that smart people, like the four Marion city council members who voted Monday to extend the city’s mask mandate, know a simple truth:

Just because you don’t get wet while using an umbrella doesn’t mean you should put it away — unless it has completely stopped raining. COVID is a rainstorm that makes Noah’s look like a scattered shower with a few sprinkles. It’ll be around for the longer than sea salt will be some supposedly desired ingredient — and so will all of us, if we continue to be vigilant until a cure is developed.

What’s going to be harder to cure is a current pandemic of politicking. We normally don’t weigh in on national politics. There’s too much silliness locally to worry about the big boys and girls swimming in the swamp inside the Beltway. But it’s worth noting this week that there’s absolutely no truth to the rumor that Joe Biden is seeking to have his name legally changed on ballots to I.M. Not Trump.

Our president, who deserves respect as such, admittedly has been a divisive character, and even those of us who support many of his policies sometimes wish he’d tone it down a little and take a minute to think before tweeting from time to time.

Still, we pretty much know what he stands for, and some of it — like strong stock and housing markets — seems to be coming true.

If so many people don’t like our president, why couldn’t we come up with an alternative — Republican, Democrat, or independent — who could make us feel good about voting for him or her, rather than simply voting against somebody else?

Everything these days is so politicized. People are making wrong decisions about the virus for political rather than scientific reasons, and the recent blowup about whether mail-in ballots will overload a weakened Postal Service is yet more fodder for junk mail.

Mail delivery has been a problem for years. It’s not so much because of the Internet or political appointees as it is because of overly generous pension and retiree health care costs the post office is burdened with.

Distant readers know mail rarely is delivered reliably. Automated equipment that previous administrations thought would magically solve the problem simply doesn’t work. Removing some of it might help speed rather than slow ballots. If forces opposed to the president really are concerned that removing faulty equipment will overwhelm the postal system when mail-in ballots arrive, perhaps they need to do their part by cutting down on the flood of mudslinging mail they are generating.

A mail-in ballot is one letter to a voter and one letter back from the voter — two letters total. Count up the number of flyers you’ve been getting. If the system gets flooded, whose fault will it be?

Talk show discussion of silly issues like this was enough to prompt an overdue pressing of the “off” button on a car radio during a recent drive back to Kansas after picking up in Illinois materials needed to teach remotely this fall.

In Illinois, Champaign County is much ahead of us in COVID preparation. Every store has “bouncers” at the door, requiring customers to put on masks — which may help explain why the infection rate there is lower than it is here, despite something like 50,000 not-too-careful students arriving from all over the globe.

A detour off the four-lane and onto back roads — US-54 in Missouri and US-56 from Gardner to Marion — seemed a worthwhile break from all the broadcast talk of the twin pandemics of COVID and politics.

Until you get to Morris County, where you marvel at how prosperous Council Grove seems, US-56 is not exactly a road most traveled. It’s narrow and twisty, with lots of ups and downs but few semis or other vehicles to navigate around. By Marion County, it becomes well-maintained and highly traveled — which gave us an idea.

The state clearly has decided to prioritize some roads and let others languish. The more traffic a road receives, the more improvements it merits. Shouldn’t we be doing more of that with Marion County’s rural roads?

And shouldn’t we take it one step further, as the state has? When a new and improved road takes over the traffic from another road, shouldn’t that road be decommissioned, as the state did with old US-56 (now 190th Rd.) and old US-77 (now Sunflower Rd. for the most part).

Some roads in the county have become little more than extended driveways to solitary farmhouses. Couldn’t some of those roads be given back to either the township or the farm owner to maintain however they see fit, as Marion County has done with the state’s old 56 and portions, though not all, of old 77?

We hate to invoke as moral authority a Vulcan line from “Star Trek,” but the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.

That’s true for both COVID precautions and maintenance of county roads. In the supermarket of life, our labels really need to show something else we’re free of. When all we hear are cries about “my” road and “my” choice whether to wear a mask, perhaps it’s time for society to market itself as “my” free.


Last modified Aug. 27, 2020