Farm Credit
Dec 02 2017

What are your top ten priorities for you in our country?

by Caren Cowan, Executive Director,
New Mexico Cattle Grower’s Association
Read this article & more in New Mexico Stockman Magazine

I can tell at least five that are not on my list…

  • Russian involvement in the 2016 election
  • What Hillary Clinton did over the past 20 years
  • Whether or not Secretary of State called the President a moron
  • The perceived global sexual assault on women
  • Gun control

It is difficult to stomach the media’s obsession with these and numerous other such issues that have little to do with the future of our country, the security of our families, and the ability of our country to provide food and energy for ourselves. The issues today that should be at the top of the news are tax reform and a health care system that is effective and efficient without government single-payer.

Since I am probably already in someone’s doghouse, let me explain. On Russians and the election, to quote Hillary Clinton “What difference does it make? It’s over.” Of course such tampering needs to be stopped in future elections, I shudder to imagine how much time and money has been spent in accessing blame rather than addressing the problem. Shouldn’t all of this airtime and these hearings be better directed in educating tax payers and voters on what proposed legislation actually says so they can advise their elected officials on what they want to happen?

The only education and information currently being provided is one-sided and biased shouting to suit one side or the other. Perhaps if we knew what we were talking about the conversation and results were be more beneficial for everyone on every side.

As much as some people hate it, Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 general election. No matter how much time she spends on television and radio, or how many people want it to, that isn’t going to change. It is also crystal clear that if she did anything wrong, and I am not judging, there is no will to address any wrong doing. Let’s get on with life for goodness sake.

It seems pretty clear to me that Rex Tillerson did not call Donald Trump a moron. In the business world that Tillerson comes from that isn’t productive and just isn’t done. The media continues to point out that he never denied it. I watched that interview months ago. What Tillerson said was that the question didn’t even merit an answer.

White House leakers and the media continue to feed on the issue and as late as today (Nov. 30) it was brought up again. There are people who would like to see Tillerson gone for whatever reason and they are going to beat this dead horse for some time to come.

It is truly sad that we live in a society where women even have to be concerned about sexual harassment and assault. Not every cowboy knows better than that, but I bet the percentage is about 99. Thus far it looks like the perverts who are being accused of these offenses are people in power including but not limited to movie producers and actors, media stars and elected officials. But I bet most men who have ever had any interaction with a woman are rethinking whether or not they inadvertently stepped out of bounds ever in their lives.

Unfortunately what is perceived as harassment or assault by one person may not be viewed that way by others, including women. It seems there is no limitation on how far back people can go to claim harm, potentially ruining a life and family, with absolutely no proof. My guess is that there are very few of us that didn’t do something in the past that we wouldn’t even think about today with maturity a continuing process.

Finally, these harassment and assault allegations are sexist in of themselves. Surely there are some predatory women who have forced themselves on men.

I have long thought that there are not nearly enough mirrors in our world today. Why else would someone walk out of their abode dressed in some outrageous and/or way too revealing outfit?

Clearly women’s rights are important, but there are responsibilities that accompany those rights.

The whole issue of gun control is one that will be debated forever with a great deal of appropriate passion and reasoning. From my perspective gun control will not stop the mentally ill or terrorists who are bent doing great harm in the shortest time possible.

There are too many guns in the world to collect and destroy. If someone wants a gun of any kind, there is somebody there to sell one to them legally or illegally. There are lots of things that are illegal that are regularly trafficked. Illegality has worked really well with drugs.

Another consideration is where you live. Maybe those folks on the left coasts don’t want or need a gun. However, if you live in rural areas where there constant threats from predators, snakes and other critters, you need a gun.

I will never forget when Pete Gnatkowski testified before then Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt in 1994. Pete told him that in the West, we send our kids to school with guns, not condoms.

I am not sure Mr. Babbitt got that statement on society even back then.

We need to take a hard look at mental health care in this country. A deliberate decision was made at sometime in the past, that the mentally ill are not too big a problem and basically turned them into the street. There they become a law enforcement problem. Law enforcement is not trained mental health professionals and often outcomes are tragic.

So, we as a society persecute and prosecute that, rather than looking deeper to the real problem.

Maybe if we devoted our country’s time to economic security, education, the deepest health care needs, food and energy security and the broad issues that are undermining the ability to envision a brighter future we would be happier people.

Then there are those who have way too much time on their hands

Chickenrunrescue.org has declared that there is “no such thing as a harmless egg.”  In their preface of a two-part series on the subject says:

Daily egg laying in domesticated hens is biologically unnatural and unsustainable. All domesticated hens have been manufactured for this trait by genetic modification and selective breeding. By the age of 2 years, domesticated hens begin to develop reproductive problems and cancers from incessant egg laying and it ultimately kills them. It is a protracted and horrible death. People who think eggs are a benign gift from the birds, battery or backyard, need to understand their real cost.

Cleaning Up at Interior

Rob Bishop, Utah Republican, and chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, had this to say in late November in the Washington Post.

Transformation means that you’re really fundamentally changing the way the organization thinks, the way it responds, the way it leads. It’s a lot more than just playing with boxes. It’s clear that the Interior Department needs such a transformation.

While the Interior Department employs less than one-fifth the number of employees at IBM today, the department is facing an equally crucial juncture and an opportunity to shed its bloated, antiquated and bureaucratic ways. It’s apparent that my former colleague who now leads the department, Ryan Zinke, agrees.

The Interior Department is one of the most vital federal agencies, overseeing more than 400 million acres of federally owned land, 26 percent of which is in 11 western states. In case you’re wondering, 400 million acres is about one-fifth of all the land in the United States or approximately four times the size of California. The department and its agencies have diverse missions and responsibilities that include everything from running our nation’s cherished national parks to managing offshore energy resources on 1.7 billion acres of the Outer Continental Shelf.

Despite the importance of the department’s work, its ever-expanding missions have fueled a decline in its ability to provide efficient, effective and transparent service to the American public. In fact, the Government Accountability Office identified several “mission critical” functions within the department — the management of oil and gas resources and Interior programs that serve tribes — to be high-risk areas for “fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement or the need [of] transformation.”

I agree with the Government Accountability Office. The department has fallen behind in carrying out some of its basic statutory responsibilities, including responsible management and development of our nation’s natural resources.

We’ve seen federal coordination with states and local land managers deteriorate, often resulting in distrust and poor resource management. For example, resource management plans, created by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), are designed to delineate how federal lands will be managed and how those objectives can square with state and local needs. Contrary to their very purpose, these plans have become restrictive and unproductive, and the agency’s mandate for sustained yield and multiple use management has been essentially ignored as a result.

The lack of accountability for serious misconduct by Interior officials further complicates these issues. Several high-profile cases of misconduct have come to light in recent years, ranging from sexual harassment within the ranks of the National Park Service to the brazen abuse of authority by BLM Special Agent Dan Love. A pattern has emerged demonstrating a reluctance by senior department officials to discipline and hold federal employees accountable for their wrongdoing. I’m encouraged to see the department beginning to open its eyes to reports of misconduct and impose real consequences on those found responsible.

As Congress and the department consider reforms to address problems within the agency, the first step should be to bring decision-making and leadership back to the communities where Interior’s policies and work impacts citizens the most — the western United States. The western states include large swaths of federally managed land, such as in my home state of Utah, where about 65 percent of all land is owned by the federal government. There is no doubt that we need increased state and local input and federal management that is responsive to the needs of communities. After years of systemic dysfunction and mismanagement at the department, true change is long overdue.

A shift away from the current Washington-centric management system toward a contemporary decentralized model that prioritizes accountability, transparency and service to the American people must occur. A primary responsibility of Congress is to conduct oversight of the executive branch. The Natural Resources Committee has a critical role overseeing the Interior Department’s reorganization efforts, and I look forward to reviewing the specifics of Mr. Zinke’s plans. Together, we have an opportunity to not just move organizational boxes, but to transform the way the department responds to the American people it serves.

I agree with the Government Accountability Office. The department has fallen behind in carrying out some of its basic statutory responsibilities, including responsible management and development of our nation’s natural resources. Despite this being among the department’s most basic functions, costly and duplicative bureaucratic policies have slowed resources development, leading to an $8 billion decline in royalties during the past four years. This inefficiency ultimately shortchanges the American taxpayer.

We’ve seen federal coordination with states and local land managers deteriorate, often resulting in distrust and poor resource management. For example, resource management plans, created by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), are designed to delineate how federal lands will be managed and how those objectives can square with state and local needs. Contrary to their very purpose, these plans have become restrictive and unproductive, and the agency’s mandate for sustained yield and multiple use management has been essentially ignored as a result.

The lack of accountability for serious misconduct by Interior officials further complicates these issues. Several high-profile cases of misconduct have come to light in recent years, ranging from sexual harassment within the ranks of the National Park Service to the brazen abuse of authority by BLM Special Agent Dan Love. A pattern has emerged demonstrating a reluctance by senior department officials to discipline and hold federal employees accountable for their wrongdoing. I’m encouraged to see the department beginning to open its eyes to reports of misconduct and impose real consequences on those found responsible.

As Congress and the department consider reforms to address problems within the agency, the first step should be to bring decision-making and leadership back to the communities where Interior’s policies and work impacts citizens the most — the western United States. The western states include large swaths of federally managed land, such as in my home state of Utah, where about 65 percent of all land is owned by the federal government. There is no doubt that we need increased state and local input and federal management that is responsive to the needs of communities. After years of systemic dysfunction and mismanagement at the department, true change is long overdue.

A shift away from the current Washington-centric management system toward a contemporary decentralized model that prioritizes accountability, transparency and service to the American people must occur. A primary responsibility of Congress is to conduct oversight of the executive branch. The Natural Resources Committee has a critical role overseeing the Interior Department’s reorganization efforts, and I look forward to reviewing the specifics of Mr. Zinke’s plans. Together, we have an opportunity to not just move organizational boxes, but to transform the way the department responds to the American people it serves.      

Source: New Mexico Stockman, December 2017