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Monday, January 2, 2017

Out of the Bureaucratic Box or not?

Secretary of Agriculture

Back in August 2016 Trump put together a huge up to 70 person Agricultural Advisory Committee. That’s what he does that is how he operates. Gathers smart people around him and listens to what they say. The purpose was probably two fold. Get information and get votes. He got both from leaders he gathered.

With the Ag. Community he faces a problem he doesn’t face with other areas such as mining and natural resources. Regulations are the friend of Big Farms. Republicans have been shielding them with subsidies and price guarantees for a long time. The Ag. People are one of the few political bulwarks of Republican fundraising. Most Republicans will be hard pressed to strictly enforce the “Trump Doctrine” of less regulations and fewer hand outs.

I live in a rural community in Michigan. All around me I see farms. But according to the following USDA report rural communities which used to be farm based in the early 1900s are now only 20% farm based and the rest non-farm.

From the document above. “U.S. population living on farms also declined (fig. 1), as did agriculture’s central role in the rural economy; while farming-dependent counties once comprised most of the rural economy, only 20 percent of nonmetro counties were considered farming-dependent in 2000 (fig. 2).”

Oceana County is rural and Republican since the old timers can remember. Our last election for the vast majority of the County/Township races was decided in the Republican Primary. Very few Democrats even bothered to put themselves on the ballot. Some I’m sure ran as Republicans. Most Democrats voted in the Republican Primary but that is another blog altogether.

I campaigned hard and spent a lot of the little money I had for Donald Trump. I traveled to and through 5 Counties around me delivering Trump/Pence signs. Actually selling them for $2 @. Not to make money but to break even. They cost me $1.75 @, I had bought 2,000 of them. Gas money and giving away a couple hundred took care of any profit – and then some. But selling them seemed like a Trumpian type of thing to do; but Donald I’m sure would have made a profit.

I and a bunch of fellow Trumpsters and Republicans had around 10 mini “flash mobs” on street corners of the different villages in Oceana County in which we waved signs and people honked their horns and gave us thumbs up. We did this every Friday morning up until the election. Never had I seen so many people excited to see us. I felt as if we were letting people know that it was ok to actually show support for Trump. We let them know they weren’t alone and I was surprised by the enthusiastic response we were getting. (Isn’t that really all Trump did?) I say this all not to brag (well maybe a little) but to say that I have some knowledge of where the unexpected Trump victory in Michigan came from.

When I say this I’m talking about the 80% of rural populations not working or owning farms but still living in rural communities, which the above USDA document showed.

Along those lines I also know some people in the organized Ag community – the 20%. I also know a lot of them were dead set against Trump and said so. Even after he won the primary. While most of them probably ended up voting for him they weren’t the ones that put him over the top – they would have voted for any Republican.

I say all this to point out a fallacy people in power have and that they find hard to get away from. It is the same fallacy that lost Hillary the election and why the likes of Jeb Bush and the rest the Primary Candidates lost the victory they paid so dearly for. They get so involved in their “group” or association that they lose contact with the rest of the world. Wasn’t it Jeb who said he would win the Primary without the base? How asinine was that?

From the Advisory Committee at the very top of the post you see the name Kipp Tom. Owner of the Biggest Ag business in Indiana. He was quoted as saying the following in an article in Politico:

“I think the bottom line is we need someone who has a proven track record and understands what needs to be done at USDA,” The “track record” he was talking about was within the USDA or it’s other related organizations.

That statement highlights the fallacy. People in these organizations have blinders on. The USDA document also said the following about the number and size of farms in the last 100 years. “Since 1900, the number of farms has fallen by 63 percent, while the average farm size has risen 67 percent”. Also it showed how in the same period the farms originally depended on 5+ crops now they depend on a single crop. The USDA pointed out the government’s meddling being the culprit as to why the farmers who should know better began putting all their eggs into one basket. “…the effects of farm price and income policies that have reduced the risk of depending on returns from only one or a few crops.”

When faced with this, what was a person to do when those in power just wrung their hands, pulled their hair, told you it was a complicated issue which would take a while to fix, then shook your hand and said if you’ll vote for me I’ll work on it? Well in the past we did over and over and all they did was continue to pull out their hair at the complexity of it all and nothing got better – it got worse – it cost more – it cost us more.

Then along came Donald.

He didn’t pretend to be a farmer, didn’t pretend to be a CIA spy, and didn’t pretend to be anything other than what he was. A successful business man who knew how to get things done, by hiring the right people to give him the facts so he could make a better decision.

The dude was 70 and tireless, he reached out to people that had been discounted and who had fallen through the cracks. People who were belittled by the media and the elites, called names and he simply said, “I’m with you”. Hillary said "be with me" and when they failed to swoon for her she called them a basket of deplorables.

Simple but wow the people saw the difference and they trusted Trump. The rural world asserted itself at election time and it felt good. Real good. I’m friends with one politician who was the first out of the box for Trump of our state’s legislators and he was simply giddy after the Trump win. I’d never seen him happier.

Americans myself included are not used to having someone who knows how to succeed in business actually run government. However it was said with some justification that people who failed in business went into politics. This is going to be an interesting and unique time for our country.

While I appreciate the business end of forming committees of large numbers of influential people I just hope that President Elect Trump after shedding the “Elect” part of the title remembers the creed that allows “Free Enterprise” to flourish. That creed is Individual Freedom specifically freedom from regulation. He has shown by his selection of non Ag business appointees that he seems to have that hatred of regulation in his genes.

I hope he can translate that into the Ag. Community with whoever he appoints. About a year ago I read a book by Joel Salatin a guru of the chicken tractor and other organic liberal type of things. The book was titled “Why is everything I do Illegal?” He is a very small farmer who has had to fight regulations his whole existence as he is always looking and doing things out of the box. I don’t think he would be a good choice but he would certainly shake up the Ag Industry in it’s slow creep towards monopoly.  What I do know is that there are many small time liberals out there who don't like over regulation either.

The people honking horns and giving Trump thumbs up in Oceana were just everyday people, in fact one big shot in the Ag community gave me the thumbs down. He recently ran as a Republican.  From talking with him I felt he felt Trump didn’t know the problems he and other large farmers faced. Well I know that I and most of those honking voted for Trump BECAUSE he didn’t have a “proven track record so that he would better understand what needed to be done at USDA,” We wanted someone to shake up the status quo that was getting us nowhere, flush out the bad and create something better.

That is something I hope he does in farming as he seems to be doing in the rest of the government world.

I don’t know of anyone who could live up to that billing. But I sure would love to see it happen. He’s been surprising me and everyone else for so long, maybe it can be a kind of self-fulfilling type of thing? One thing I know is for this to happen we need to get over our over indulgence in self-demoralizing cynicism and give a hand when needed. When finally faced with the truth it is time to smile and say how can I help?

Man all I got to say is that it is taking a long time for Jan. 20th to get here.

Can you imagine the crowd, kind of our own Woodstock moment.

Regards, Bob Carr
Live Dangerously, Tell the Truth

PS. For those who like researching further into the topic of thinking outside the bureaucracy, with the Trump picks for his Cabinet, try this?

Talk about shaking things up here is an article by a new found (for me) journalist Suzanne Fields titled “Shakin Up the Little Red Schoolhouse”. Well written and lots of original thought. She is an accomplished journalist but I never really read her before, I will start paying attention.

Suzanne too hopes the status quo gets shook up by Donald Trump and his appointee Betsy DeVoss for Secretary of Education. She too wouldn’t be big on listening to the Ed. Industry (NEA) which got us into the mess. She values new blood from people who might not have a proven track record in that area. People that might shake up the status quo.  A favorite quote from the article: "Reading skills underlie digital literacy -- which ought to be written in large letters on the wall in every classroom."

We should at least pick people that haven’t a proven track record of failure but those willing to actually fix what is broken.  Failure is not and need not be a requirement for government work.

Regards, Bob Carr
Live Dangerously, Tell the Truth


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