WE HAVE A FEW further thoughts to offer you today about those farmers bivouacked down on the Mall with their tractors. When the Great Snow descended upon the city, the tractors and the farm trucks with four-wheel drive had no trouble at all moving around a city that was otherwise almost motionless. Those tractors do not spin, and neither do they slide.They have been hard at work over these past few days, helping a city in distress. We'd like to thank them for it.
They have used their equipment to meet genuine emergencies -- getting patients to hospitals and, perhaps even more urgent, ferrying nurses and doctors who are needed there. Some of the tractor drivers worked straight through Monday night and into yesterday. At police headquarters, a line of badly needed cars got buried under the snow and then doubly buried when a city plow went past. The city's tow trucks couldn't rescue them. A farmer with a tractor spent yesterday pulling them out. He wouldn't give his name, but only said that he was from Oklahoma.
You should also know that on Monday a farmer with a plow cleared the alley into this newspaper's loading docks. Not every subscriber got a paper on Tuesday morning, but the score was a good deal better than it would have been without that tractor's help. Our gratitude to the farmers is not entirely disinterested.
The farmers have been as generous and helpful over the past days as they were exasperating and obstructive when they first came to town. Circum-stances changed with that snowfall, and they have shown themselves to be the best kind of neighbors in a storm. We take their performance in the blizzard as a reminder of the harsh and uncertain weather in which farmers carry on their daily lives. They are equipped for severe conditions, as most of us in Washington are not, because they have to deal with snow and mud and cold routinely, as we do not. It's a point for city people to remember as they sit down to dinner.
The farmers came here, tractors and all, to remind the capital of a way of life that is in danger. Their remedy is higher support for farm prices. We still think that their remedy is a bad idea, for reasons that threaten the family farm as much as the consumer's budget. But the farmers have successfully recalled to this city values that lie beyond economics.