A visual gag being forwarded on the Internet shows a bottle cap as the “new Kansas rain gauge.” Wednesday night’s downpour of less than two-tenths of an inch won’t stop the cyber commentaries and won’t change the news that across the nation, this year’s drought is being called the worst since the Dust Bowl days in the Depression.
Long before the Dust Bowl, American essayist and novelist Charles Dudley Warner (1829-1900) made the observation, “Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” (The quote is also often attributed to his friend, Mark Twain, and both used versions of it over the years.) Even if no one is doing anything about the weather, it’s good to know that good government has done a lot about its effects.
On April 27, 1935, Congress established the Soil Conservation Service (now the Natural Resource Conservation Service) as a permanent part of the Department of Agriculture, to protect soil and moisture resources. Thanks to better farming practices and good government, at least the present drought isn’t threatening to create another dust bowl.
Efforts to deal with the weather continue today. U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) says he’s doing everything he can at the federal level to help farmers and ranchers who are struggling with the dry conditions. This past week, Gov. Sam Brownback and officials from all levels of government, along with representatives from the agriculture industry, met to talk about the effects of the drought across Kansas and how best to coordinate assistance for local farmers and ranchers. Roberts joined the meeting via video conference and noted his latest efforts. Roberts has also created a drought resources page on his website (robert.senate.gov) with links to information.
Ronald Reagan said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’” But when it comes to dealing with Mother Nature, we do need all the help we can get.