Cattle Today

Cattle Today



by: Wes Ishmael

It was chatting with Bugsy about government and how it works for her social studies class that got Hooter to pondering the fact he hadn't written his Congressman for too long. He'd been too fed up with the nonsense, frustrated by their failure to recognize reality.

But then he heard himself tell Bugsy that the only chance elected representatives had to hear your voice was if you were willing to put sound to that voice in the first place. So, late one night, Hooter picked up a pen:

Dear President Obama,

First of all, congratulations on the new dog. I have no personal experience with Portuguese Water Dogs, but I've got all kinds of learning from crossbreds and mongrels. Far as I can tell, those water dogs like you've got aren't much to look at, but it sounds like they're great with kids. Besides, they've got to be an awfully fun breed for Ted Kennedy to own so many. I was also heartened to hear that Spaniel breed, which is also classified as a gun dog, could find a home in the White House, what with your views on the Second Amendment, which seem to differ from those who authored it.

For what it's worth, used-up ropes and old hooves make great chew toys. Holler if you need some.

Secondly, thanks for your historic generosity. Best as I can tell, you've approved $1 trillion or there abouts in money to be given or loaned to a long list of have-nots who were never recognized as such before: home owners who bought houses they couldn't afford, businesses that leveraged themselves beyond solvency and common sense, and financial institutions who generously financed the above with signatures rather than collateral. As I understand it, the federal deficit—already record large when you took office—at a little over a trillion dollars will blossom to $9 trillion or so in the next 10 years. Thanks for your optimism.

There are undoubtedly plenty of detractors to such a bail-out, what with 12.5 percent of the U.S. population (37.3 million) living in poverty, according to the Census Bureau. But, being one among the multiple generations of tax payers who will finance this national generosity I'm heartened by your willingness to recognize and help non-traditional special interest groups (more later). I realize it's not all just a gift, with the U.S. government, and I by association, taking an ownership stake in some of these concerns. Don't worry, we're being realistic about the return; around here we say that 10 percent of nothing is the same as 50 percent of it.

As an aside, it's tough to understand how we can tell the businesses receiving the money how they're allowed to use it, if that was never specified up front. It's a lot like negotiating the weighing conditions on a pot load of calves after they're already on the truck. Me and the folks around here feel confident that using taxation as on offensive weapon is a big part of what gave birth to the U.S. to begin with, so we're hoping you don't support such proposals.

Speaking of which, taxation gets me to thinking about representation, or the lack of it. Admittedly, there are days I get to thinking I'm out of touch with the rest of America, given many of the decisions and thinking coming from Washington, D.C. Then I get to looking at that map of the red and blue states and it dawns on me that it's the two coasts and a few states in between that are out of touch with the majority of this country, in terms of its land mass, the folks stewarding those resources and whatnot.

As an example, when you get to looking at those red and blue states, no offense, but the folks voting against you live in states that make up about 60 percent of the Continental U.S. yet represent only 31 percent of the electoral votes.

The way it is now, it's kind of like one block's worth of people in a good-sized city telling the rest of the city how to live when the rest of the city pretty much has an opposite view. Logic just doesn't square with it.

So, if there's ever such a thing as weighting geography into the vote—for the land mass supported by taxpayers in a given state—I'd be plumb in favor it, and I suspect lots of folks in most of the country would to.

Finally, those new special interest groups I cited earlier.

Are you aware that there's only 766,000 or so of us beef cattle producers left in this country? We've lost 10 percent of our peers—the U.S. has lost 10 percent of its beef producers—in the last decade alone. We've got fewer beef cattle in this country than at any time since the 1950s, yet we produce more beef. We've embraced Green technology (before we knew there was Green technology) to increase efficiency, maintain low consumer retail prices for beef, as well as a positive source of net national income through beef exports.

As private owners of so much land we take better care of it than public entities do—all kinds of studies vouch for that. We buck Mother Nature and the market every day because this is what we choose to do, and we thank God in Heaven for the opportunity.

I'm sure hoping you're aware of things like that because so far it doesn't seem like your Agriculture Secretary knows much about agriculture one way or the other.

Anyway, every cattle producer I know has never expected, asked for, or wanted any kind of bailout from the government. In fact, I had a cattle-first uncle who raised a little grain on the side, and he was so adamant about standing on his own two feet that he wouldn't even apply for the grain subsidies he was entitled to.

What we'd like, or at least me and the folks I know, is to be left alone. Let the markets and our own common sense guide our decision making. Let us reap the rewards and suffer the consequences of our response to a free market that is left unfettered by government intervention and artificial market signals. I guess, rather than a bailout, what I'd like to do is bail out you and the federal government, bail you out of our business.

Again, no offense, but you said you wanted to know how the voters are thinking.

Back to that new dog of yours. For what it's worth, I don't know much about the tax code, apparently like those appointees of yours who forgot about paying Uncle Sam, but you may want to be sure such a gift isn't taxable.


Hooter W. McCormick


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