Listening to President Jack-Ass, one would think that nobody could create the first thing without the government standing there to help them. I take offense at the notion, and more, I am willing to demonstrate how the biggest obstacles I have faced have been born of government regulation, idiotic laws, and crony-capitalism powered by criminal thugs like Barack Obama. As many of you will know by now, I am a horseman, in addition to the profession in which I work, and I have a small thoroughbred farm together with my wife. When we began this endeavor, there was no barn, no tractor, no fences, or horses or even running water. There was no electricity, there was no dwelling, and there wasn’t much at all but an empty field alongside a rural highway with a dozen or so trees scattered far and wide upon it. From the outset, there were problems, and almost all of them were induced by government, and our trials and tribulations have been exacerbated by that same entity, though not exclusively the federal ones. With “help” like his, I would think we’d have been better off on our own.
First, I’d like you to consider the words of the jack-ass-in-chief:
In 2004, the entirety of Texas began to fall under a drought that lasted and lasted. For those of us dependent upon feeds and hay, the costs were striking. We watched an ordinary round-bale of coastal Bermuda hay go from a price between $30-40 dollars up to over $110. Just when one thought it couldn’t possibly get worse, the government stepped in to “help.” If you happened to be a cattleman, it was fine help. The government was handing out drought relief, but the key qualification is that your crop had to be for food. Horses did not qualify, since their primary use is not down at the burger stand. Some of you might wonder if I’m not complaining merely because I didn’t get the cash, but I tell you that it was a horrible situation, and I didn’t want the cash, but what I really didn’t want was government deciding who would win and who would lose. You see, all of the cattlemen were now flush with cash, and they could go into the market and buy whatever scarce hay was in existence, and import it from other states too. We soon saw the price of a round-bale escalate from around $100 up to a high of over $170. Now, some of you might be asking: “Well, what if the government hadn’t given them the cash, how would they have fed their cows?” The answer is: They wouldn’t. They would have loaded them up and trucked them to the feedlots and sold them while they could get what they could for them. In short, the market would have responded appropriately. The price of beef would have dropped briefly before spiking upwards, and that would have brought higher prices for future beef that would have eased the pressure on the hay side of the market for everybody.
Of course, in 2005, as all of this was happening, I thought this was a temporary condition, and that the drought would end, and people would come to their senses, and I wouldn’t have need of drastic measures like selling my horses for meat. You see, in a market in which fuel prices were also spiking, and the disposable income of many people was suddenly thin, guess what wasn’t such a big seller any longer? That’s right: Horses. Now you would think that with the end of the drought, the troubles might begin to ease, but no, that wasn’t to be. Government had another nasty surprise: They effectively banned the funding of inspections of horses taken for slaughter. As you might well guess, I hadn’t intended to slaughter mine, but that’s hardly the point. Horse meat is a fine source of protein, much leaner than beef from cattle, and has fed people the world over for eons. In point of fact, long before man ever mounted a horse, he ate them. Some relatively small number of horses always went to slaughter, and much of the meat was exported, or fed large cats at the zoo. These animals shared one general characteristic: They were unfit for other uses, by and large.
What resulted when government decided to “help” again was a glut of unwanted horses, competing for and taking up resources that drove up the cost of maintaining every horse, market-wide. Worst of all, it had exactly the opposite effect of what had been advertised: Many horses were being abandoned, under-nourished, and dumped wherever and whenever their hard-pressed owners could dispense with them. Perhaps all the more ironic, a huge number began to be trucked over the Southern border into Mexican slaughter plants, where they don’t give a damn about humane conditions, never mind meat inspections. In many cases, the horses that did go to slaughter met a more gruesome fate than had they merely been slaughtered here. Meanwhile, the prices of horses was plummeting across the industry, as consumers were under all sorts of new pressures, and as the value of their homes and their money fell, buying a horse hit near rock-bottom on the priority list for many who had enjoyed them for decades. It got so bad, that late last year, Congress actually repealed the ban, although I don’t know if any domestic horse slaughter operations are back in business. The damage has been done.
Just these two federal actions might be enough to convince you of the obstacles government has put in the way of my family’s farm, but there is still a good deal to consider even at the state level, particularly here in Texas. You see, our state hasn’t participated in arrangements like its neighboring states. If you go to Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, or New Mexico, you will find state-bred programs that actually encourage the breeding of horses in those states. Texas has such a program too, though on principle, I do not participate because I see it as a socialistic subsidy. The difference is that in the adjoining states, they have permitted the expansion of gambling to include “video lottery terminals”(that look suspiciously like slot machines) but the deal struck in these states to allow for the enhanced gambling requires that they be placed at racetracks, and that a portion of the revenues be plowed back into purses for qualifying races limited to state-bred horses. Texas has opted to forgo this form of revenue, with pious-sounding legislators pretending they have been swayed by a moral concern over gambling. In truth, like anything in politics, what you must do is follow the money. Various estimates show that as much as $6 Billion leaves Texas for gambling venues in these adjoining states. There are bus-trips you can get on that will take you over to Louisiana from Houston, where you can sample those “video lottery terminals.” Even if the estimate were double the actual amount, it’s still a huge amount of cash that flows out of Texas into our neighboring states.
How much money do you suppose is spent lobbying legislators in this state to continue to uphold their firm “moral” stance against expanded gambling in Texas? That’s right, for all their posturing, many of the legislators in question are merely taking cash in order to vote against something that would provide large revenues to the state that is now merely bleeding out across our borders. Every other year, in our biennial legislative session, somebody brings a bill up, and in short order, it is killed. It’s brought up because it’s like ringing an alarm, to which all the lobbyists respond, and their answer is always in cash. Suddenly, all these legislators concerned about the evils of gambling are able to jump up and make strong statements against expanded gambling, while no small number of them have their palms greased.
Now you might say that because I don’t participate in the State-bred program anyway, it shouldn’t be of concern to me, but it is, and the reason is clear. What has happened is that while the purses in adjoining states have grown in proportion to their VLT revenues, they have stagnated or even shrunk in Texas. At this competitive disadvantage, how do you suppose Texas-bred horses now sell? Even if you were inclined to participate, the ROI isn’t there. Austin has a proposed track license, with the Austin Jockey Club. That license may never be exercised because the industry is suffering so badly in Texas under this scheme. Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie filed for bankruptcy protection. Other tracks are operating on the edge of solvency. The legislators don’t care because they’re getting positive press for their “moral stand” against gambling, while the competing-state lobbyists pile on the dough. That, my friends, is crony capitalism disguised as the moral majority.
Locally, it’s getting harder and harder for a farm to do business. In addition to the mountains of regulations rolling downhill from the EPA, local water control boards are making life difficult even for long-established farms. Oh well, more palms to be greased, I suppose. Of course, then you have the cities that now annex as much as the law allows every chance they get, and if they keep on at this pace, you will soon be able to remain with the boundaries of some municipality or other all the way from Oklahoma to Laredo.
Barack Obama goes to great pains to say that all of us are the beneficiary of some form of government help. That’s his implication, hidden behind a more acceptable-sounding notion that none of us get anywhere on our own, implying everything from the parents who brought us into this world to the teacher who may or may not have taught us the first thing in school. What my wife and I have experienced is something quite remarkably different, and it is that at every turn, it has been some governmental nonsense impeding us, obstructing us, or otherwise prohibiting us from making a go of it. You would think from listening to him that a brigade of his Obama-bots had accompanied us across the blazing hot pasture in July, driving t-posts into the scorched soil until the point of heat exhaustion, but I don’t remember any help. The wife and I, and our daughter a little bit, doing what Americans had always done: Building something where there had been nothing.
We never asked for any of this infernal “help,” and given its nature, we’d be just as happy if government stopped lending its “helping hands” and simply got the hell out of our way. We know how to choose good breeding stock, and we know all the important aspects of good animal husbandry, and I know my way around farm equipment and all the ordinary construction techniques we employ. I’m fairly certain that wasn’t Michelle Obama I lifted onto the skin of the barn’s roof to screw panels down as they were slid into place. I know for certain it wasn’t Barack who was running that welder. That was me. When we stretched thousands of feet of field fencing tight across all those newly planted posts, neither Secretary Clinton nor Sebelius were anywhere in sight, and neither was Harry Reid nor Nancy Pelosi, and not even a soul who had ever seen their offices.
Of course, when it came time to put up the mailbox, there was the guy from the Highway department to tell us how many feet it must be from the road’s edge, and what sort of super-duper break-away mount it must use, lest some weaving drunkard hit something much too firm alongside the road and do himself unnecessary harm. When we wanted to place our driveway, we were told what sort of culvert we must build, if we could build one at all, and so expensive was it that we simply opted to scatter a smattering of gravel across the ditch, and simply put some new gravel down each season. No culvert? No problem. There was the problem of bringing electricity to our homestead, and all of the government rules the electric company must follow, and how this all determined the siting of our home, rather than logic, and what we damn-well pleased. Yes, I am familiar with all the little helpers we’ve had along the way, and to be quite blunt about it, I hope they’ll all line up to help Barack Obama too. The problem is that it won’t bother him at all, because he doesn’t build anything, and he’s never accomplished anything on his own.