So Many Questions
Friday, May 30, 1997
i get lots of email — well over 100 every day now — asking myriads of gardening related questions, plus some non gardening related stuff. 'Tis the season for it, so I'm glad to assist anyone with questions or problems. There's an FAQ Page available for answers to many of the commonly-asked questions. Send me a note if you have something specific that needs to be researched and answered.
Lots Of Answers.
As an acknowledged specialist in horticulture, I'm expected to have all the answers to all the questions. I usually do — because I've done the research and retain the information — but once in a while someone throws me a curve. Those situations are always worked out after I get the caller past using the plant's common name ("firebush", "lipstick plant" et al) and into using the botanic name (Euonymous alatus, Cornus florida, Chamaecyparis nookatensis pendula et al) for clarity and problem definition. The common names are inexact, confusing and terribly misleading, but 95% of all gardeners do use them. Using botanic names greatly simplifies things.
I maintain a large reference library for my own, my staff's and my customers' use. Several hundred volumes are available for study and enlightenment on a vast array of subjects and topics. Many people take advantage of this resource, as do I on a daily basis, and benefit greatly. It's sad when the others simply pass up so much condensed information that would answer their basic questions, concerns and problems.
I often get calls from people who've bought plants from other sources, and call me when there's a problem. I am always courteous and ready with an answer, though I make it quite clear that they should be questioning the person or place whom they originally purchased it from. The problem is that many people in this business can't answer even simple questions. What a sad state of affairs. My feeling is that they shouldn't be in this business if they can't provide a customer with the correct, concise answer.
A Simple Solution.
Horticultural testing and licensing should be mandatory — as it is in the health care fields, auto mechanics, legal and other fields — for everyone in the horticulture business as well. This would reduce the current crop of part- and full-time incompetents by 85% and leave the quality people to run the industry. All the lowlife nursery, garden centerm owners and pickup truck (so-called) expert landscapers would disappear overnight and the world would be a better place for it. Sour grapes? No, just a healthy dose of reality.
The federal government should stay out of the details; merely mandate the change. The courts must mandate that the state-level departments of agriculture test, license and regulate the industry according to modern standards, not the 18th century philosophy that most of the industry operates under today. Right now, the Ag Depts do almost nothing worthwhile except collect fees for perfunctory licenses and perform simple, semi-periodic inspections.
I grow weary of all the cretins in this business giving it a bad name. It's a great business; better in most ways than my previous life in advertising was for 17 years. It's way past time to get rid of them and clean up the industry. I wrote an ad on that topic called The Junk Merchants that caused quite a stir in central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland last year. It'll run again several times each year to tell people about the lowlife roadside vendors selling trash plants at bargain rates. It's made a small difference, but the problem is insurmountable in its scale. I'm not the Don Quixote type, but I'll do what I can in my little corner.
Advertising in and of itself does not cause profound change; citizens do that through sound a legislative process. Advertising merely informs the uninformed of the issues and raises the questions; it rarely provides an answer. But as long as the public wants deals on cheap plants, the sleazeballs in the horticulture industry will flourish and bilk the public. Someone's got to take a stand.
Liberal Socialistic Theft.
It's almost a decade since the Marxist empire began crumbling — first in Russia, then in Europe — yet the crackpot ideas of its founder live on. The idea that wealth is a form of "social injustice," and that redistributing income is a worthy and progressive goal remains persuasive to people in government and out. That's why America, for example, still has a capital gains tax, which specifically targets money earned from the creation of wealth.
Such ideas are also still very much a part of the language we speak. We refer casually to the "haves" and "have nots," as if in the beginning someone handed out life's goodies to a few and withheld them from the many. By equating "injustice" with unequal wealth, we imply further that one man's bounty can only be the result of
Why instead don't we speak of the "cans" and the "cannots," the "wills" and the "will nots," and the "dos" and the "do nots"? Everyone can look around and see examples of each. It is will, intelligence, ability, energy and desire that determine individual destinies.
And what we know in our own companies and families and neighborhoods is true of the nation at large. A recent study shows that most of the families who constitute the richest 1 percent of U.S. households (over $2 million in net worth) earned their wealth, and that most of it is in entrepreneurial assets, unincorporated businesses or investment real estate. And the list of the richest families changes from year to year, proving that wealth is not a divine right.
There are, of course, undeserving rich, just as there are deserving poor. But most people with money are busily producing more jobs and conveniences for others, and taking great risks to do it. That's why the market rewards them as it does.
And that is why redistributing their wealth — i.e. socialism and communism — is quite simply theft. It uses the force of the state to reach into the pockets of those who have earned their money and give it to someone who has not. Not only is this not justice, it is destructive to the less fortunate. Suppose the government were to confiscate what Bill Gates has — all $25 billion of it, by a recent c|net count — and distribute it to the homeless or the inner-city poor. We know what would happen to it, because the government does that every other week with welfare payments, taken from those who work and given to those who don't. It disappears. Sometimes it is used to buy alcohol and drugs that destroy the purchaser over time. Other times it may be used for food and other subsistence necessities. In either case, the money disappears — or, more precisely, it leads to nothing else — at least not for the individuals who are given it.
If Gates keeps his capital, on the other hand, there is a likelihood he will invest it in ways that create jobs, even whole industries, that never existed before. To prevent Gates from doing that by "redistributing" his income diminishes capital needed for a growing economy and expands waste.
Redistribution has grave social and psychological costs as well. It sows resentment and distrust. When liberal enthusiasts inveigh against the 1 percent of the nation who own 50 percent of the wealth, they are inciting passions
against the most productive members of the community. That can have catastrophic consequences, as the misery spread over half the globe by the communist revolutions amply demonstrated. In the West, the effects are more
subtly corrosive, making it more difficult for entrepreneurs to accomplish their wealth-creating agendas, thus slowing the improvement of conditions for us all.
The idea of "social justice," as Friedrich Hayek observed long ago, is a mirage, a social fiction of the left. There is no "Society" that distributes income unfairly, and no "Society" that could make the distribution just. Rather, the ability of Gates and other free market entrepreneurs to accumulate billions has transformed the world and not accidentally made life better for millions of people.
What justice would be accomplished by confiscating Gates' billions and having them "redistributed" down unproductive channels — to disappear completely, probably in a matter of weeks? Better those billions be invested in the creation of new enterprises and the expansion of old ones. That is surely the most "just" way to share the wealth.
The liberals, liberal Democrats and socialists amongst us aren't savvy enough to understand this concept. They agree only that money and wealth is evil and must be redistributed among the people without such means by a socialistic system of taxation. Let's allow them the opportunity to emigrate to Cuba or China where such pathetic systems are in place and working, instead of ruining a well-oiled capitalistic machine as we have here. We'll be glad to pay their expenses if they leave now.
France is an outstanding example of how socialists and communists can ruin an economy. Since France's shameful collaboration with the nazis in WWII, their political meter has swung so far to the left that no one recognizes what they are anymore. That once wonderful nation is a mess through and through. Leftist scum and other degenerates abound in thousands of political parties, dividing up power and causing any government to be totally impotent. Merely follow the recent elections and news to validate that point.
A Major Drought.
Since January, 1997, we've had 10" less moisture than in any previous year since March, 1991, when we opened. My tan is back: I've spent days hand watering trees and shrubs even thought the automatic sprinkler systems thoroughly drench everything with 15-20,000 gallons of water every night from the two wells on-site. We also have the ability to pump from retention (and Koi breeding) ponds to any ailing nursery stock if required. two wells to handle 20 acres? Not likely: next year we'll drill another well for added insurance.
Everything not under constant water looks severely dried out from the strong winds and warm temperatures. A combination of selective hand and automatic watering is a daily necessity right now. shit, last year we were almost 14" over our average annual rainfall; this year, we can't buy moisture. Storms are constantly passing to the north, since the prevailing jetstream has swung so far above our latitude.
Sunday, we had a reprieve: 2" of slow, steady rainfall that helped temporarily alleviate the drought conditions in southern Pennsylvania and northern Maryland. It was most welcomed. It will take 5-7 days of slow, steady, soaking rain to get us back to where we should be at this time of year's moisture level and to where the stressed-out plant material can recover without anymore damage.
Memorial Day Weekend is always busy; this year, it was busier than all previous six years' holiday same weekends. Despite the late frosts, minor snows and continuing drought conditions, gardeners were out in droves. I'm glad to see the unfriendly weather hasn't injured people's spirits.
Time Seems To Stand Still.
Is it the internet or me? I'm not sure why from Friday evening to Sunday late evening, nothing much seems to happen in the online news(papers) headlines. ABC News just came online, so I'll have a new measuring stick to throw into the mix.
I'm always online these days; email comes in at such a rate these ('tis the gardening season) days, that it's de rigeur now. Hundreds of my customers are too and communicate on a daily basis. I always check in with the news organizations — 20-30 times per day — just to keep tabs on what's happening out there. Often times, I get lost in horticulture stuff and marketing stuff, and I forget there's a world other than mine out there.
Since I have registered with each organization and am carrying their cookies for identification, entry to any part of their respective site is permitted. Noting the date and time of entry, the headlines from place to place are amazingly the same throughout the entire weekend: from paper to paper, headline to headline. Unless WWIII breaks out or the continents begin to sink, nothing of much substance happens, according to the media. Or does it and I don't notice? Wish I knew. I haven't watched TV in over two years (I'm never home much) now, so I have very little to compare the coverage to.
Each morning I check in with the local NBC affiliate, WGAL-8 TV and check the weather for the coming days. They're affiliated with IntelliCast and provide some pretty good weather forecasts for gardeners. I used to check in with The Weather Channel, but their site is a crawl these days. Don't bother.
La Creme de La Scum.
The sleazy details contintinue to unfold about the Clinton scum's seamy dealings with the criminal Riady family of Indonesia and their corrupt organization, The Lippo Group: the Asian lowlifes had bought unlimited access to The White House on many occasions and basically still own Slick Willie and the liberals.
The Riady criminals wanted to influence both China and Indonesia for future business deals and needed to prove that they had a direct pipeline into The White House. So they bought their way in and sleazeball Slick Willie opened up wide and smiled as they made the mandatory payoffs to the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
And it also now appears that the little, sleazy piece-of-shit John Huang got into some illegal fundraising activities while working at the Commerce Department for the late Secretary Ron Brown, who himself is under scrutiny for some very illegal dealings. Lucky for Brown that he's dead; that's one way to avoid prosecution. The scumbag Huang will do some hard time, though, when this is all over.
Not only is Clinton a criminal, he's a dirty sleazeball; the US Supreme Court just said that Paula Jones' sexual harassment lawsuit can go forward in civil court. The Summer is beginning to get interesting.
I always liked Netscape; I own lots of their stock and have never used a Microsoft browser. Honest, Mr. Andreesen. But when it comes to Netscape Communicator Preview Releases (PRs) 2-5, it doesn't like me or my Pentium machines.
For the past month, I've tried to install Communicator Preview Releases 2-4; last night my friend Jeff Horn stopped by the Garden Center and dropped off a copy of PR5. I did the install and presto: illegal operation errors again. So I uninstalled it and tried to run my trusty copy of v3.01 and move on to other things.
With all the customers in and out last evening, I was hard pressed to concentrate on the cleanup of the mess that PR5 made of my machine. My backup copy of v3.01 on Zip disk was corrupted; Norton Disk Doctor repaired the disk errors, but the copy of the program was toast. Jeff guided me over the phone in downloading via FTP a new copy of v3.01, but it only showed more illegal operation errors upon starting. shit.
I knew better than to try the whole thing again; on two previous occasions, PR 2 and 3 did the same thing; I was lucky to get around the problems and out of it with v3.01 working again. This time I'm screwed. I just shut things down and left for home. At least the Pentium there works with v3.01. Damn.
Something's corrupted in Netscape; each time I start the browser, it crashes. I have to delete all Netscape folder from the HD, and re-install from scratch. It must be configured and preferences reset each time. This is getting old fast. The Netscape techs aren't of any real help; they suggest trying basic stuff that I've long since done. Eventually, I'll figure it out and not do something stupid like use Nutsshite Commun-i-crater again. I'll just stick to that simple browser.
The Windows Wizard that he is, Jeff returned and helped me the other 5% after I'd gotten the first 95% of the way back to normalcy. His cut-and-paste technique with the bookmarks and address htm files worked like a charm. I'm back up and running in normal mode, for now.
A New Perspective.
This will change how we perceive ourselves in relation to everything else around us, very soon. Read it and wonder.