I had a most bizarre conversation the other day with a friends father who was visiting. He’s a tea-partier, and a grain farmer. The conversation took place at a local coffee shop with a large and social outdoor area that is a community gathering place.
So…in the hour or two we sat there he started going into his practiced tirade…damn liberal Californians, damn takers, look at all these people here they should be at work actually making something…contributing damnit.
Never mind that I knew probably 80% of the people there or who passed through. People that owned local businesses. An author. A rather famous musician. A number of legal marijuana growers enjoying the brief period of the year when they can largely make their own schedules and reconnect with friends that they don’t get to see during the many brutal months of the seasons. The same for the vineyard, olive, and apple farmers there. The construction and landscape folks likewise seeing the slow season. The culture here where friendships are important and winter is often the time to re-establish them as so much of the year requires too much of us to have much of a life. (something he should know all too well himself). Not a soul there that was on the dole- even those unemployed due to the seasonal nature of the work or due to the lean times in construction related fields get by on their own. And this is a useful gathering spot for many to find work to hold them over…
So I asked him just what HE takes from the Federal government. “Not A damn thing!”
Oh really?I wasn’t going to give him a free pass on this…(I’m not going to bother with his responses which, at best, tended towards sputtering and/or a nod of the head admitting defeat on the question)
So…You grow wheat for a living.
So- you sell your grain to a major corporation, who then overwhelmingly sells overseas. Who do you think helped create these trade agreements allowing this?
You live in a VERY remote area. How do you get all your supplies and materials- and get your product to market. Federal interstates. As well as rail. State and local highways. Rivers and oceans. All of which have taken huge sums from the federal government.
Where do you get your water? Much the result of dams and diversions of rivers, huge pipelines. All the result of federal money.
Who is responsible for keeping pests and diseases that could destroy your livelihood from entering this country: the federal government.
Who helped fund the development of the very strains of grains you grow? The federal government.
Who provides and/or subsidizes the crop insurance that protects you from a unusually hot and dry year like this past year? The federal government.
Who pays you to protect the marginal (for farming) lands on your property to protect the environment, yet let’s you use them as in this past disastrous year for agriculture? The federal government.
Who has programs to protect lenders – from banks to equipment manufacturers that deal with the otherwise high risk field of agriculture? The federal government.
Who developed and put into space the GPS satellites virtualy all your tractors rely on, and that you use on multiple other pieces of equipment and vehichles? The federal government.
Who offers your industry numerous price guarantees to protect you from the vagarities of the very capitalist system you claim to embrace? the federal government.
Who overwhelmingly turns a blind eye to those damned illegal immigrants you rail against while still depending on a few months of the year? The federal government.
Who has spent billions on research into diseases, pests, fertilizers, best growing pratices, hydrology, irrigation, soil conservation- all things you directly benefit from: The federal government.
And then the questions that nearly gave him a heart attack. “do you make enough from your farming to provide for yourself and your family throughout the year, even though it is seasonal work?” “of course” . So- do your employees make enough to provide ofr themselves and their families?” “well, but, ummm…I pay ‘fair’ and ‘normal’ wages” “so, in other words- You can provide for you and yours with what you do- but a sizeable portion of your employees collect unemployment
And the parting shot: and who is failing to act on climate change, largely because of people like you- something you as a farmer have surely been witnessing. Something that will devastate your industry. An issue that your son sitting here with us has told me has made your two sons who have slowly been taking more and more responisibilty for your farm start to look into selling it while they can, and find a new life for themselves…
This is not to take a piss at farmers – a profession I was involved in for a good chunk of my life. Nor is it particularly meant as a piss at any political party- though certainly this example applied more to the right.
It IS meant as a piss at the selfish. The narrow minded. The ignorant. the arrogant. Those that aren’t paying attention or find denial the easier path.
We all rely on government- federal, state and localmore then we seem to care to admit. As we rely on our neighbors. Our community. On people that blazed the path before us. On people that blaze completely different paths and the people who see how can they be related. On our employees who often do far more then want to admit. And no matter how menial do tasks that need doing and that free up ourselves and others for more pressing things.
We seem to have forgotten, especially those that blindly follow capitalism and the supposed “conservatives” the very principles at the heart of both religion, and the founding of this country.