More whining ranchers!

While stuck in Rapid City I’ve had lots of time to read news (here  (Land Grab, as the headline screams, whose land is it anyway, MINE, as citizen, let the ranchers show their titles if they want to claim it) and here) and so I see that President Obama has used perfectly legitimate executive powers (authorized by Congress) to designate some already U.S. owned land in New Mexico as a National Monument.

Naturally the Repugs + a handful of ranchers are in full opposition and whining like crazy, trying to raise the totally bogus issue of border security (not affected at all by the designation) to really pursue their not-so-hidden agenda of pampering a few welfare ranchers. But it’s the hypocrisy of the Repug opposition that is so repugnant:

“This is just another decision made by the administration driven from pressure by radical special interest groups without the consideration of the negative impact on local economies or the will of local residents,”

Wow, amazing, the public is a radical special interest and ranchers are not – by what logic is that?

And what about that impact of local economies (given the tourism increase will far outweigh the ranchers, plus nothing in the designation denies the ranchers their welfare grazing rights, so what impact) and then what about national economy.

The Feedstuffs article (I’d assume that is a special interest, i.e. ranching, trade mag) only claims 9,000 head of cattle might (emphasis, might) be affected. Oh the horror! I’m in cattle country right now and have driven through all the feedlot territory in Nebraska (#2 in beef production). Guess what, 9,000 head of cattle is absolutely nothing to the national consumption. According to an industry source there are 29.3 MILLION beef cattle in inventory, so this piddling couple of ranchers in New Mexico handle  0.03% !!! of the national inventory (wow, is the price of steak going to skyrocket).

Now I’ve driven by hundreds feedlots in Nebraska where a single feedlot raises more than 9,000 cattle (much more, in fact). And here through hundreds of miles of South Dakota grasslands I’ve probably seen far more than 9,000 cattle just from the road. Do these industry special interests (and they are the special interests) really think it wouldn’t be trivial for this part of the country to increase its production by 9,000 cattle! Come on, give me a break. This is not about the public’s access to beef (or its price), it’s about a handful of tough old geezers who’ve lived off subsidized land (why don’t they just buy or lease some grazing land).

And then we have this additional hypocrisy from the Repugs:

House Speaker John Boehner and others also complained that the designation of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in southern New Mexico is the latest example of Obama taking unilateral action to sidestep Congress.

Right, the President uses a previous Congressional authorization to do exactly what that bill said he could do and Bonehead declares this to be side-stepping Congress. And of course, had the President sent a bill to Congress for some designation that would require Congressional approval the Repug majority would, of course, obstruct it, like everything else. (Hey, Bonehead, when the only word in your vocabulary is NO, you really expect the President to go a suicide mission with a bill in your Congress!)

I’ve seen a lot of ranch country in my life (given where I like to go for recreation), plus I’ve talked to a fair number of ranchers and what I know is that once upon a time this country needed more beef and so set aside public land for subsidized grazing (just as they did for mining and logging, back when resources were in over-supply). Fine, that was the policy then, now we live in today. Why is Nebraska #2 in cattle (and not New Mexico (or Nevada where the Bundy idiot doesn’t even pay legitimate grazing fees), even evil California is ahead of these two). Well, simple, Nebraska ranchers use sophisticated technology based on a complex distribution chain (from the feed to the processing). So those computerized (but still stinky) feedlots produce beef at far lower costs than open range ranching.

Now, sure, feedlot beef has pretty lousy taste and the grass-fed beef on real rangeland is much tastier (I know, I consume both and have had a couple of steaks out here as a treat from my usual supermarket feedlot beef). If the ranchers want to appeal to foodies and get some other special interest on their side, fine (however, still South Dakota could easily increase its production).

No, this is about multi-generational welfare recipients, to put it in urban lingo. Sure, ranchers do work hard and are tough characters, BUT, they are no longer economically viable. So they need to live on government handouts.

Now in my line of work, the market said we’re not interested (or at least enough) in my product and poof it gets cancelled and poof I get laid off. And this is the way the modern world works. The Repugs want a free market, but boy do they whine when the free market takes away privilege from one of their constituents. I regret seeing a way of life dying out, BUT, it is dying out, just like manufacturing and lots of other industries. Go to the Sandhills of Nebraska, ranchland not too different than New Mexico and see the abandoned and boarded up towns. Sorry to see it go, but that is the free market. I’m headed to Medora, North Dakota, which used to be a major cattle center – now it’s industry is tourists like me visiting a National Park.

Democracy doesn’t mean everyone wins all the time. Democracy means balancing one interest against another. So why do a handful of ranchers in New Mexico (or as used to be, in Medora) weigh more than tourists and outdoors people; we’re citizens too and I know I paid a lot more in taxes to support our government of all the people than those ranchers do. So it’s not special interests on one hand and good old boys being screwed by the government on the other, as the Repugs and ranchers would like to frame it. It is competition, the free market, and optimizing the needs/wants of ALL the people, not just a privileged few whose way of life is over. This is the 21st century, not the 19th – sorry, fellows. Already you’ve probably traded in your horse for an ATV and you probably have a cellphone instead of smoke signals and you have electrical power (probably government subsidized) instead of firewood.

Your day is over, just as it has been for many other works, so time for you to get over it. And for the Repugs to stop whining about bogus security issues (on the same day Rand Paul is denouncing Obama for protecting us).

Come on, stop whining.



About dmill96

old fat (but now getting trim and fit) guy, who used to create software in Silicon Valley (almost before it was called that), who used to go backpacking and bicycling and cross-country skiing and now geodashes, drives AWD in Wyoming, takes pictures, and writes long blog posts and does xizquvjyk.
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One Response to More whining ranchers!

  1. Pingback: Deja vu, all over again | dailydouq

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