Rush County seems to be in a quandary. Do they wish to continue life as is? Should they consider some development? Do they like the comparatively easygoing lifestyle of the county or should they think about the possibility of economic development? Then the question arises what do we want for our future? Is it manufacturing? Is it agriculture? Or is it a combination of both of the former? Rush county may have its faults, every place does, but overall it seems to me to be a rather nice place to live. We are overwhelmingly agriculture in feeling as well as thought. But we also have embraced some degree of manufacturing as is seen by the big four of the county.

The question that should be raised and discussed is not do we want confined farm operations but just what do we want? People need food to live and someone has to produce that food. Rush County has done an outstanding job of doing just that. The individuals who have chosen farming for their vocation are hard working, honest and usually thoughtful individuals. People also need jobs to allow them to be able to buy the food that the farmer produces. And the county needs the taxes generated by the manufacturing aspect to help run and give to the county the way of life most people would like to have.

New has not been a hot word in the minds of most of our county residents. I would suspect the we are the reddest of the red in a red state, conservative almost to a fault. I can’t remember something new being brought up that didn’t cause an immediate and full blown remonstrance against it. I really wish that some of those who automatically are nay-sayers would at least take time to check out what they are against prior to being against it.

A lot has changed over the years. In manufacturing, as in most every aspect of life today, things are getting bigger, more efficient and less respectful of the individual rights of their citizens. Where one could count on their company to ante up for their retirement, today that is almost nonexistent — leave it to the government. A worker could be fairly assured that if he did his or her job that job would be there for them. Not today. The bottom line is the mantra of the 21st Century. And in many ways this means leaving the human aspect out of the picture. I am very pleased that there are a few of the old firms left who respect their employees, but very few.

Profits are the name of the game. Progress is imperative. But how does one reconcile the profits and progress with human reality? Workers need food to be able to work. Raw materials are something grown not mined or processed. Farming needs huge and expensive machines to farm. And livestock operations need volume and size to be profitable. And profit is the end result of all we do, isn’t it?

Personally, Rush County needs to progress along with the rest of the country. The big question is how are they going to do that? The economic development attitude of the county has taken a large step in the direction of bringing us into the reality of today’s world. We are looking at huge hog operations, ethanol and biodiesel operations, manufacturing and service and distributing operations. And there are those who are against all or most of them. Manufacturing, or for that matter, any type of industrial endeavor, pollutes one way or the other. They have their good and bad points. Farming as it is done today is the same way. The big question is how responsible is the individual, be they farmer or manufacturer or anything else, are those endeavors going to be? Will they be people friendly or not? Will they do things the way they should or not? Any aspect of economic development, no matter what it is or where it comes from, has its problems. Look at Love Canal or other heavily polluted areas caused by manufacturing. Then look at huge confined cattle and other livestock operations and the waste they generate. No matter what you do or want to do there are reasons not to do it. And evidently no matter how highly regulated the industry is there are those who abuse what they should hold dear. There are those who do not go by the rules in any industry one might find today. So one should be aware that in any enterprise there is that possibility that things might not be done properly.

Like it or not, in today’s world you either grow or die and Rush County is at the cross roads of just what they want to do for the future. Do we grow or do we die?

Watch for Bill Ward’s column Saturdays in the Rushville Republican. Add a comment at

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