Vol.XIX No.IV Pg.8
June 1982

Stuff About Things

Robert F. Turner

We have it on the impeccable veracity of "Greetings from Old Kentucky," by Allan M. Trout; 1947. Operators of a Tennessee Coal Company wanted to bulldoze a road up the side of a very steep hill to a new mine opening, but their heavy equipment was far away. They asked for local bids, and got the most attractive offer from an old mountaineer who ran razorback hogs in that country. Take it away, Allan.

"Well sir, the farmer first took a crowbar and punched holes 18 inches apart in the side of the mountain along where (they) wanted the road to run ... all the way from level ground to the drift mouth of the mine.

(He) next got several sacks of shelled corn and carefully filled the holes with it. He saved out enough corn, however, to toll his 250 head of mountain hogs to the lowest holes. Then he went back home, sat in a cane-back rocker on his front porch, and watched his rootin' hogs root... Ere the sun set that evening, the hogs had rooted out a nice roadbed from the bottom of the mountain to the drift mouth of the mine." Don't blame me, I just tell it like I read it. If that teaches us anything at all — beside taking salt with Tennessee hog stories — it says you can toll a hog (person) to do things you could not tell him to do. The power of the profit motive is always with us. This is a variation of the carrot-switch illustration. A carrot, dangled in front of a mule, may move him forward better than a switch at the other end.

Ours is a materialistic society, and the pragmatics of capitalism are cited as proof this is the best way. We admit to favoring democratic gain over gain for the ruling dictator; but neither of these are very complimentary of the units of society. Are we content to be hogs and mules??

I wonder if many realize how essential to democracy are the moral principles of God; how majority rule, in the absence of moral "right", simply means that the predominate selfish desire will become law. Yes, that is better than the dictator's selfish desire; but it is still far from being ruled by God-like concern for all. The man who had the corn sat on the porch while 250 hogs did his work and fattened for the kill in the process.