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Beefs and Beliefs

My revelation: Government is the place you "get things"

Far too many Americans, including many agricultural producers, have come to believe Uncle Sam is their sugar daddy.

(Editor's note: Since we're in election season, I am reposting my blog from October 2013 on the most egregious attitude in US politics today.)

I was shooting pictures of cattle loading on a truck the other day when the final stage of a revelation came to me.

It was one of those things that shouldn't be revelatory ... but it was.

After the cattle were loaded I was talking to my cousin and a truck driver nicknamed "Hoss" who hails from South Dakota. The driver brought up the condition of our federal government and suggested things would improve when we are shed of this current president. I told him they surely would not because the American people are far too addicted to socialist government programs for our problems to end with Obama's term as president.

He suggested we need to transfer more power back to the states and I agreed. Then he explained something about South Dakota opting out of federal Medicare and replacing it with state insurance coverage. I began to smell a rat.

He said he had a heart attack a few months back and that his $50,000 hospital bill was paid by state insurance, since he has none.

"Ultimately, that's still socialism," I told him.

He reluctantly agreed.

At that point, my new understanding of the statist problem was cemented.

The problem, boys and girls, is that our governments at all levels will continue to get bigger, more powerful and more dangerous as long as the people see government as a place to get something.

Because of that, I now hear every comment in this light, just as I have come to understand the historically proven dangers of all government in the vein our founding fathers understood it and I now see all government as potentially dangerous.

Now, when people complain about the so-called federal government shutdown and say they just want the government to work, I ask what they're looking to get from it. I remind them the founders of this nation designed the government to not work very well. That's why they set each of the four branches against one another and designed each branch in a manner it would have some control over the other branches and the functions they were assigned.

Now, when I hear people tell me how well Medicare paid their medical bills, I know they're sold out to the system. I know they will always vote for more government because they see their vote as an action which will pay off for them.

This despite the fact our federal government is now spending 50% more than the revenue it takes in, that I and others had to work until April 18 this year just to pay the taxes levied upon us by the government.

Now, when I hear the ongoing battle about reforming the so-called Social Security system I can't help but recall how our elected federal servants we sent to Washington, DC, spent all the money when it first came in. Then they used the "program" to make additional promises of payment to people who had put little or nothing into the system. These were clear cases of vote buying.

Further, most people in the past have received more from Social Security than they put in, particularly the poorer members of society. For example, a person who earns an average of $15,000 per year will pay $86,000 in payroll taxes, together with his employer, over 44 years of work. When he retires, his annual benefit will be $10,128 will be 11.8% of his lifetime payroll taxes.

In contrast, a person who earns $50,000/year will pay $285,000 in payroll taxes over 44 years of work. When he retires, his annual benefit will be $21,324 or 7.5% of his lifetime payroll taxes.

Moreover, the Social Security system is by necessity paying less in the future. Workers who earned average wages and retired at age 65 in 1980 had recovered the value of their payroll taxes, plus interest, in 2.8 years of receiving old-age benefits. Workers who retired in 2003 at average wages will need to live 17.4 years to earn back their taxes and an average interest.

On top of that, the Social Security system is already broke and going "broker." It appears by the time I retire in 2028 or so, I'll see little of what I have paid, together with my employers over roughly 55 years; a tally of perhaps well more than $300,000. Talk about a Ponzie scheme!

Now, when the corn growers are lobbying for ethanol mandates and most or all the crop growers' associations are lobbying for more and better crop insurance, I get hopping mad because this is asking the government to alter the markets in favor of one or two or three groups and against all others.

In fact, two geographers from South Dakota State University released a report this past summer (2013) showing dramatic decreases in grassland and increases in cropland in the western Corn Belt since the ethanol boom started in 2005. I shouldn't have to explain to anyone in my audience how this drives up the price of grassland and therefore the price of doing business in the beef business.

I could go on and on and on ... but I won't.

Instead, I'll call your attention to an editorial written by Elmer T. Peterson in The Daily Oklahoman in December 1951. Peterson said, "A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy."

I believe we are well into that phase.

The voters have been duped by those who would make us slaves with the very power we granted them, and all in the name getting something from the government.

From the vantage point of my new paradigm, then, I am warning my fellow Americans: We must stop thinking of government as a dispenser of benefits and goodies, for ultimately we are stealing from our neighbors by granting the power to rob them to people in government positions who already are too desirous of power.

If you do not recognize your complicity in taxation as the pointing of a government-sponsored gun at your neighbors' heads, then try this: Call the IRS and tell them you are protesting your taxes. Close your bank accounts and hide your money in the woods. Quit work and refuse to pay what they say you owe. They will find you and point guns at your head.

Government is not a sugar daddy. We must grow up now, as citizens, and face these obviously uncomfortable facts.

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