Madison County Opinion...

DECEMBER 11, 2002

By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
December 11, 2002

Frankly Speaking
Time for column
on chicken manure
I have been writing this column for 16 years now. In that time, I have never before found it necessary to address the subject of chicken manure. But the time has come to do so.
A group of environmental activists have declared chicken litter a hazard to our rivers and streams. Chicken litter is, for my urban readers, the mixture of wood shavings and chicken droppings taken from the floor of poultry houses. This richly organic mixture is a highly effective fertilizer when applied to hay fields. The tree huggers want the practice stopped. Never mind that they have no proof that a problem exist.
A recent U.S. Geological Survey of north Georgia Rivers found less phosphorus in the poultry growing areas than was recorded 10 years earlier. In my opinion, it is likely that the protesters contribute more pollution by washing their cars and chemically treating their lawns than do chicken farmers. I can’t prove that either, but I am just as likely to be correct as are they.
In a recent interview, one of these nuts admitted that they have no factual evidence that spreading chicken litter on hay fields is damaging the environment. But that does not matter. She believes that to be the case, therefore she has a right to demand that government do something about it.
Her solution, as is always the case, would cost the government, poultry producers and eventually all of us a substantial amount of money. That does not matter to her either. Her entire reason in living is to find or invent problems and demand that government fix them.
Now having a big government leftist sobbing about chicken s—t would be a fun story except for one thing. Madison County is one of the leading poultry and beef producing counties in America. Farmers raise poultry in large houses. After each house is harvested, the litter is removed and broadcast over hay fields in place of expensive commercial fertilizer. The hay from the fields then feeds beef cattle. By combining the two, local farmers have a chance at a profitable operation.
If these environmental groups were successful in their efforts it would cause considerable economic damage to our farmers. They would have to finance alternative ways of storing and deposing of the litter. They would have to purchase other forms of fertilizer in order to feed their cattle, or reduce the size of their herds.
These people are always in a hurry to interfere with other people’s livelihood simply because they think there is a problem. In my opinion, they are one of the largest problems in America today.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at His e-mail address is

By Rochelle Beckstine
The Madison County Journal
December 11, 2002

A Few Words From Me
Republican majority could mean limits on rights to sue
Legal reform may be closer than we think, but don’t be surprised if it’s not called that.
Political analysts believe if legal reform were going to happen then it would happen now. We have a President who won limits on lawsuits when he was the governor of Texas and republicans who have control of the Senate and House.
And the lobbyists are clamoring to call legal reform anything but legal reform.
They prefer to call it an “economic development issue” or as President Bush calls it “job creation bills.” The lobbyists argue that limiting consumers’ right to sue will save struggling businesses, preserve jobs and protect access to healthcare.
I’m a republican, but I’m not buying that cow.
Dr. Donald Palmisano, a New Orleans doctor and lawyer who will become president of the American Medical Association (AMA) next year, calls our current justice system “broken” and says that calling legal reform “tort reform” or “malpractice liability limits” gives people opposed to legal reform a foot up. Huh. If calling it what it is arms its opponents then maybe it isn’t such a good idea.
The AMA portends that legal reform would benefit Americans because some doctors have had to quit practicing due to costly malpractice lawsuits and expensive insurance. And that is a shame. So Palmisano’s AMA wants the government to limit medical malpractice lawsuit awards to a maximum of $250,000. So which shame is greater? The doctor with his high insurance bills or handicapping a jury of 12 by telling them that no matter how tragically or needlessly a life ended, that life is only worth $250,000 at best? If it is not the doctor’s fault a patient dies, I believe the jury would know that. I believe in the justice system. If it is the doctor’s fault, if he was negligent, then the amount awarded should be decided by the jury. The incident should warrant the settlement, not a group of people lobbying to decrease insurance rates.
In any business venture, be it saving lives or sweeping floors, we must weigh the costs of doing our job with our returns. It is just that simple.
The problem as I see it with physicians is they’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, that is between health insurance and malpractice insurance. It can’t get worse than that. I’m not a big fan of insurance. You buy it, you pay ever increasing premiums and hope you’ll never actually need it or if you do need it you pray your claim won’t be denied because you failed to read the fine print on page 112 of your most recent insurance manual.
We need electricity. It’s regulated. We need gas. It was recently deregulated and most wish it hadn’t been. We need insurance. To drive a car. To see a doctor. To operate a business. Regulate insurance. Put caps on insurance premiums. Limit the number of people getting rich as insurance rates force more people to risk getting caught without it. But don’t tread on my rights as a consumer.
[DISCLAIMER: Let me make it clear that I’m not defending frivolous law suits like the gentlemen claiming McDonald’s made him fat. People filing frivolous lawsuits should have to pay the expense of the trial. I do not believe 12 sane people would find in that man’s favor. Not unless they know something I don’t like McDonald’s slipping an ingredient into Big Macs which makes them addictive (i.e., Big Tobacco) or false nutritional content statements.]
Rochelle Beckstine is a columnist for MainStreet Newspapers.

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