Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Who's Your Lobby(ist)?

Now, before we get started, let me make two things perfectly clear:

I like ranchers just fine. I live in the country, wear a cowboy hat and drive a pickup truck.

I love beef. It's what's for dinner. Every night if I get a say.

Having said that, you should have a listen to this podcast on Southeast AgNet. It's a pain to get to (for me) so I'm not going to bother trying to quote it (I listen to these things on my phone). But if you listen, you'll hear the beef industry lobbyist whine about the weight limitations the Department of Transportation has placed on cattle trucks and the rest requirement it has placed on drivers of said trucks. They won an exemption last year from the rest requirement for drivers and they need ranchers to call their Congressmen and win them another exemption from the rules this year.

Those poor cows (headed for slaughter) might get hot sitting in the sunshine while their driver is forced (forced mind you) to take a silly nap for 30 minutes before he can continue driving an 80,000+ (+++???) pound truck down the highway that you and I share. We want our cows to be healthy don't-cha-know. Damn gov'ment don't know nothin'.

You can trust me, it was as silly as I'm trying to make it sound. But when you're a cattleman trying to make a living and the guy in your earphone sounds like he's on your side, I bet you're a little more sympathetic to the argument. You might even call your Congressman.

Make no mistake about it, cattle country is Republican country. So it's sort of ironic to hear that they want to bust up the interstates with even heavier trucks. In that Republicans don't believe in infrastructure spending. Especially the kind that's called stimulus. It is not at all ironic to hear them rail against a government-required rest period for a worker. But you have to ask yourself, how did anyone ever get a government-required rest period put into regulations?

Sleepy Truckers Linked to Many Deaths

(Totally unplanned. That article was written by our old friend Matthew Wald who covered aviation for the NYTimes when I was working.)

I tell non-union people this all the time -- every Big Business out there has lawyers and lobbyists fighting for them. Who is fighting for you? You can't afford either one. But you and hundreds of your buddies joined together can. Do you understand why Big Business doesn't want you to do that?

And I give ordinary citizens the same message: Who is your lobbyist? It's supposed to be your Congressman. Here's a question: How much do you pay your lobbyist? How much do you reckon the beef industry pays theirs? Any questions?

Oh well, here comes the sun so I have to run. Give yourself a gold star if at any point in time you were reading this and wondering just how far you'd have to haul a bunch of cows so that you would need a nap. I have cows all around me. You probably do too. At least within a couple of hours of you. How we are raising cows might be the root problem. Just a thought.

Don Brown
March 18, 2015

Friday, March 13, 2015

Lies Are Easier To Tell

For God's sake, read this testimony given to the United States Senate Committee on the Budget by Professor Mark Blyth. You remember Professor Blyth. I told you about him almost two years ago. Try to grasp what he is saying. I know it isn't that easy. But I also know that if I can understand it, you can too.

But most importantly, anytime you hear anybody say:

"It is irresponsible and immoral to kick the can down the road.
We cannot saddle our grandchildren with a crushing burden of debt.
We need a budget that is painful to all (today) in order to protect future generations.
Future generations are going to have an inferior standard of living because of our fiscally irresponsible behavior."

You can send this this link: Statement of Mark Blyth, Eastman Professor of Political Economy, The Watson Institute for International Studies and Brown University, as a response.

Lies are easier to tell than the truth. The truth is usually more complicated and harder to hear than a lie. But it's worth telling.

"Third, unlike households, the United States issues its own cash, owes itself money, borrows other people’s savings with its own paper, and brings new people into the household so that it can tax them across the next several generations. National governments can do all that, families and firms cannot and US states cannot. And no one can do that better than the United States national government since its debt is backed up by the world’s most dynamic economy, 14 aircraft carriers, and positive intergenerational capacity to tax. Let me unpack this."

If your brain just isn't wired for the economic stuff, then try the story Professor Blyth tells on the personal level.

"I was born in 1967 in a working class family on the East Coast of Scotland. My mother died when I was three weeks old and I was given up to my paternal grandmother for my care. Our income was her state retirement pension (an entitlement). I went to school (paid by taxes) and ate free meals at school (an entitlement). I went to university for free (an entitlement) and now I am a professor at an Ivy League school. As such, I will pay more in taxes over my lifetime to the US government at a much higher rate, and for longer, than I would have ever done if these entitlements had not been there. They made me what I am today and I am a fiscal net positive long asset.

So when people say “we cannot saddle our grandchildren with a crushing burden of debt,” or that “we need a budget that is painful to all (today) in order to protect future generations,” they are really saying “lets shrink the economy today so that the parents of today earn less money and pay more for services. That will make sure that their grandchildren grow up poorer, with a smaller economy, and a worse education.” Quite how that is supposed to keep America great going forward is a mystery to me (unless it’s the magic of tax cuts themselves, but they keep failing to show up too)."

Read. Share. Engage. Send it to your Congressional Representatives.

Don Brown
March 13, 2015