From Democracy to Idiocracy

It has been said that ‘Three generations away from the family farm leads to the end of common sense as we know it’. The Mountain Farmgirl fears this is all too true. Take a peek at some modern day examples of our national decline in rational thinking, and why the Farmgirl sisterhood is such a refreshing antidote to contemporary incompetence in ‘From Democracy to Idiocracy’ …

WARNING: Reading this blog may cause serious doubts as to the intelligence and the future of   the human race.

I am innately opposed to the trend of increasing legislation over our lives. As thinking, feeling human beings in a free society we should not require our legislators to constantly protect us from the obvious every time we turn around – or sue the manufacturers of everyday products if they don’t. This includes ludicrous laws such as those requiring warnings on hot coffee (By the way, it’s supposed to be hot!!); champagne corks (don’t shoot them into your eyeballs); warnings not to fold up your stroller with your child still in it; and jigsaw puzzle boxes that must caution us that ‘Some assembly is required’. Overhearing a few other ridiculous examples recently, I just-for-fun Google-searched  “Absurd Warning Labels” to see what a nation of idiots we have apparently become, and it’s worse than I had previously thought. At least it is if you don’t hang out in Farmgirl circles where common sense mixes with creativity…
Try a few of these real-life warning zingers on for size …


• ‘This motorcycle contains no edible parts’
• ‘Do not iron clothes while wearing them’
• On a bottle of children’s cold medication: ‘Do not operate heavy equipment’
• Egg cartons that say “This product may contain eggs” and Peanut jars that warn “May contain nuts or nut products”
• ‘Vanishing Fabric Marker should not be used for signing checks or legal documents’
• ‘This electric drill is not intended for dental use’
• ‘Do not blow dry hair while sleeping’
• ‘Peel fruit leather from cellophane before eating’
• Do not drive with Windshield Cover on window
• Do not pour liquids into your television
• On a Butane lighter: Flame may cause fire
• On a microscope: Objects are smaller than they appear
• Do NOT put any person in this washing machine

Have you laughed enough? Well you get the idea, and I’m sure you have a few of your own favorites to share.


Of course, the warnings aren’t just there for consumer safety. Most result from lawsuits (or fear of potential ones) so that manufacturers are protected against human stupidity. While only a moron would put their child in the washing machine instead of a bathtub, or shake hands with the business end of a chainsaw, manufacturers go to such laughable lengths because our legal system has become a litigation lottery. While clearly the manufacturers have the responsibility to educate users to unforeseen dangers, the American legal system is based on the fact some things are so obvious that you don’t need to warn about them.  … Or do you?



When my husband and I have functions at our inn, the outdoor tents we have erected for wedding receptions are required by law to have lighted exit signs. No matter that the sides are wide open and one could just step out at will should a situation arise requiring it … No … electrified LED signs must be installed in case anyone has any doubts, and they must be inspected the day of the function by a licensed inspector, (as if humans wouldn’t already know to step outside if the tent went up in a blaze). All this makes me wonder, “How did we make it this far in our evolutionary process?” 

I am proud to circulate in farm girl circles where intelligence-insulting warnings and ridiculous laws are unnecessary, and down-to-earth common sense is the rule rather than the exception. Whether you work a farm that’s been in your family for generations, keep a few chickens, grow a pot of herbs on your windowsill, or just read articles from MaryJane’s publications, you are passing on a legacy to the next generation which is worth its weight in gold! Keep up the good work, gals … the survival of our country’s future is in hard-working, practical hands like ours!


I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject ...

Until next time,

Mountain Bounty, Mountain Blessings from Cathi

The Mountain Farmgirl


By: Andrea Furber
On: 01/23/2012 15:41:26
You've hit right on here. I appreciate this underscoring of the importance of maintaining our earth roots in any form on any farm. I'm a farm girl in a city--lovely garden and 5 hens. It keeps me sane and benefits all the neighbors around as well as they come in contact with this precious link.

Keep up the good work. Love it.
By: Donna
On: 01/23/2012 15:43:12
Oh, I so hear common sense!! Love your blogs!
By: TJ
On: 01/23/2012 16:04:55
It's proof that we were created, and not merely evolved... and that our God has a sense of humor! :)
By: Eve
On: 01/23/2012 16:46:22
Ohhh, you voice my sentiments exactly! I am so bloody sick to death of how stupid people, and legislators have become...or believe we've become.
By: Adrienne
On: 01/23/2012 16:49:24
My favorite is still the warning label on the candle in the jar with a cork stopper: "Remove cork before lighting."
By: deborah motylinski
On: 01/23/2012 17:22:35
I guess I would ask the question, what are you and what should we be doing about the ever increasing presence of govt. in our lives? My husband is always telling me, "write your congressman". Second, we need to vote and let our representatives know we are opposed to more legislation. And third, maybe we should encourage term limits. What do you think the answer is?
By: Victoria
On: 01/23/2012 19:08:19
Very funny! You had me laughing and I really needed that today. Thank you. I will note, however, that peanuts are legumes, not nuts, but they may be processed in facilities that also process nuts, hence the warning about nuts on a jar of peanuts or peanut butter.
By: Lisa Bicknell
On: 01/24/2012 04:59:08
I enjoyed reading your post!
I'm thankful I grew up on a farm where common sense is still common.
By: meredith
On: 01/24/2012 05:52:24
Oh Cathi! Right on! Our society is crashing down around us farmgirls- if our "leaders" dont wake up soon, farmgirls (and boys) will be all that is left.............:)
By: Karin Thomas
On: 01/24/2012 06:46:08
Oh Cathi, I agree with every word. Why can't people see that we are giving up more and more of our freedom in the name of "safety and security". We have entirely too many laws, especially ones that prevent people from making a living. Yes, we should write to our congressmen and make our feelings known. Sadly, few if any, listen to us. They believe they are smarter than we and must protect us from ourselves. And don't get me started on entitlement. Anyway, it's one more reason I love Mary Jane's Farm and the Farmgirls so much. Common sense and lots of wonderful people.
By: Missie Wiskur
On: 01/24/2012 08:22:59
Kinda makes you wish the plague would come back and do it's thing for a day or two. I often think, "and you can drive a car?". It amazes me.
By: annette
On: 01/24/2012 09:05:05
By: Connie
On: 01/24/2012 09:47:54
I agree..Common sense isn't so common anymore! Thanks for sharing Cathi, I enjoyed reading your blog. :o)
By: LaRoyce
On: 01/24/2012 10:29:52
Amen! I constantly pray for the "America" that we are leaving for our grandchildren. The government has gone way overboard. We no longer have a courtesy patrol, nor policemen whose job it is to serve and protect. They are too busy "catching" criminals. Laws that are made, such as fining a person for not having health insurance, that they could not afford in the first place, are right up there with laws for warning labels, many of which I too laugh at, that defy reason.
By: Patti
On: 01/24/2012 10:32:03
I totally agree; the white domed building in Washington has become like a giant tomb; it's occupants are oblivious to outside life in the real world. AMEN to your thoughts.
I'm a moutain girl from NC, retired and loving my little homestead with my organic garden.
By: Leah Adams
On: 01/24/2012 10:37:07
While I wholeheartedly agree with your article, and think that we have become a nation of dunces, there's one part of it that I disagree with.

It always chaps my hide when someone brings up the stupid old lady who put hot coffee in her lap and then got a little burn. This has got to be one of the greatest smear campaigns done by big business. The stupid old lady, named Stella Liebeck by the way, got third degree burns in between her legs, over 6% of her skin, from her coffee. It took her years to heal. She was sitting in a parked car, as the passenger. McDonald's had also received numerous warnings before Stella's accident that they were serving their coffee at an unsafe drinking temperature.

Here's an article with a photo of Stella's burns. I warn you, it is pretty graphic. This is not a case of a frivolous lawsuit.

There's also an HBO documentary, "Hot Coffee" that deals with this and other similar cases. The link goes to a review of the film.
By: Cindy Keen Reynders
On: 01/24/2012 11:44:48
Well said, Cathi, and I agree completely. Great post!
By: Samantha Hinrichs
On: 01/26/2012 12:39:22
You have really struck a nerve with me: as a rural mountain girl I find that again and again people are allowing themselves to get dumbed down, and that the technology and lawsuits that are supposed to help us have actually shackled our innate curiosity and intelligence. I feel that the more folks step away from the modern world, and do things for themselves (like gardening, raising chickens) their sense of self worth and knowledge goes up ten fold. Thanks for the post.
By: Sally Turner
On: 01/28/2012 12:12:27
Amen and amen! I am also concernred that all of this control is bringing up a generation that does not take responsibility for their own actions! It is so refreshing to hear someone say, "I am so sorry! That was totally my fault." I see and hear all the time for the kids I work with (hands up) "It wasn't me!" When I just saw them do the thing they are denying!!! Yikes!
By: Shery
On: 01/31/2012 11:31:15
In two words: AMEN SISTER. I SO enjoyed this article...except it did get me stirred up. Honestly, exit signs for an open tent situation??!! Crimeny.

This totally supports my non-belief in evolution. We are NOT evolving if evolution does (as it theorizes) move a species toward positive progress.

Hoping for better days. When a pendulum has swung as far one way as it can, it swings back the other way. I hope so and if it that is true for humanity, we've gotta be close to where sanity and common sense come back in fashion...? But, you know what, to quote one of the blue collar comedians, "You can't fix stupid". I think stupid has always been with us. Maybe we're just at a place in history when we've reached 'critical mass' ... high volume stupid. You know, here'z the thing, you don't have to be smart to have common sense ... 'horse sense'. Horses have a brain the size of a walnut and they are pretty sensible about a lot of things. One could argue that they aren't very bright, but maybe less smarts and better hearts is what horses have and what humans need. If we had better, kinder hearts and less intelligence, we'd not make weapons able to destroy poison entire regions (and the world). We'd be kind enough not to and not smart enough to invent them. 'Nuff said
By: Maria Maberto
On: 02/06/2012 14:01:42

I've always said that it doesn't matter how book smart you are if you don't have common sense. When I see ridiculous warning labels, my first thought is, "this is because someone actually tried this once."

I live in CA(talk about idiocracy), never on a farm, but my spirit has always felt a kinship to you farmgirls and the land. I'll get there one day.

Thanks for weighing in, Maria! I'm with you ... my first thought is always, "How crazy is THIS?"  It's amazing that these things have to be said, but as you mentioned, they amust be there for a reason, hard as it is to believe!!  Thanks for your farmgirl kinship!  It ALL counts. xoxo cathi

By: Rhonda
On: 02/06/2012 20:17:13
Trial lawyers .....rein them in and we'll get back to "commen sense".....the Supreme Court way back when should never have allowed the incredible advertising that's on every few minutes on the telly....also,, jury of peers needs to be put in alleviate Jackpot Lotteries out of the justice system...hence, part of a tort reform....but trial lawyers, again, beat it down with large contributions...I am from the state of Illinois, from a county that has been on the hellhole watch list for years (we have most of the asbestos cases in the country right here in our little county)...our wonderful leader came from this state where most of our governors have served prison time--the latest being Rod cannot tell me that Obama (who hailed form this state) doesn't have a clue about how lawyers operate (he is one)...My father (who is 75 and still working as a state civil engineer) grew up working on his generation's family farm...I do believe that many, many years ago he wrote an article in his local newspaper about lawyers bringing down the country....And then there is the wonderful propaganda documentary called "Hot Coffee" produced by the trial lawyer ass'n. They are doing an excellent job of taking such good care of the little man. Yes, some lawsuits are defintely warranted, but not to the point where the petty class action lawsuits are making lawyers rich and making the cost of everyday living ridiculous. I am a countrygirl at heart, (grew up down the country road of the 150 year old farm in my dad's family) and I will always take a real slithering snake vs the one's running this country...and let's not get started with some of the unions(I'm not for sure who they're suppose to be in the best interst of) I sound bitter? nope...but sister, better just nibble on a piece of clover hay and sip a bit of Jack because you're beatin' your head against a brick physcian husband does so just about everyday....
By: Cindy
On: 02/21/2012 04:55:15
Wow..this is the first post of yours I've read and you hit a nerve with me. I heard Jesse Ventura speak on tv one time, when he was considering running for President, and he said, "you cannot legislate common sense." He was basically stating that we waste time and tax dollars legislating common sense. But there is always someone out there trying to sue someone. And the thing is, that McDonalds cup of HOT coffee should NEVER have made it into the courtroom, let alone the person be awarded money. But lawyers and politicians make money on this kind of stuff. So on it goes.

Cindy Bee
By: Mrs. Mac
On: 02/28/2012 16:44:04
I'm the third generation from the farm and am glad to be learning the old new methods of homekeeping, home schooling, home this and home that. A great free site to read early American 'common sense' homemaking and cook books (down loadble in PDF) is the 'Feeding America' website with copies of OLD books (


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Cathi Belcher

Cathi Belcher,
an old-fashioned farmgirl with a pioneer spirit, lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. As a “lifelong learner” in the “Live-Free-or-Die” state, she fiercely values self-reliance, independence, freedom, and fresh mountain air. Married to her childhood sweetheart of 40+ years (a few of them “uphill climbs”), she’s had plenty of time to reinvent herself. From museum curator, restaurant owner, homeschool mom/conference speaker, to post-and-beam house builder and entrepreneur, she’s also a multi-media artist, with an obsession for off-grid living and alternative housing. Cathi owns and operates a 32-room mountain lodge. Her specialty has evolved to include “hermit hospitality” at her rustic cabin in the mountains, where she offers weekend workshops of special interest to women.

“Mountains speak to my soul, and farming is an important part of my heritage. I want to pass on my love of these things to others through my writing. Living in the mountains has its own particular challenges, but I delight in turning them into opportunities from which we can all learn and grow.”

Column content copyright © 2010– Cathi Belcher. All rights reserved.

Mountain Bounty

“Keep close to Nature’s heart ... and break clear away once in awhile to climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods, to wash your spirit clean.”
– John Muir