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22 March 2015 - My Fair Share

As many times as I have flown into Washington, D.C. over the past 60 years, I still get excited when I have the opportunity to spend time in the city. It was especially exciting last week when I participated in National Agriculture Day, a day-long salute to America’s producers of food, fiber and energy and a recognition of their contribution to our way of life and our nation’s economy.

This was the 42nd year for this event and I am impressed by how it has grown over the years. I am especially pleased by the growing number of young people in attendance…4-H, FFA, AFA, NAMA students and National Outstanding Young Farmers visiting members of Congress and talking about their future role in agriculture.

But there is something else I observe on every trip to our nation’s Capitol…the number of organized groups who are there to convince Congress that what they do is important to the country and why they deserve their fair share of the tax dollar to continue their “good work”. While waiting for my luggage at Reagan National Airport, I saw name badges or T-shirts on my fellow travelers touting the contributions of music teachers, high school teachers, nurses, plumbers, anesthesiologists and beer distributors. Of course, at Ag Day events I saw corn growers, cattle and hog producers, organic growers and other commodity groups doing the same thing.

I heartily endorse the participation of individuals and groups in government, but when it comes to asking for “my fair share”, where does it end? We seem to forget that “my fair share” comes from those of us who pay income taxes, and a good part of that money goes to construct huge buildings that house thousands of government employees who decide who gets what’s left of those dollars for their programs. As the size of our national debt proves, there’s just not enough of those dollars left to fund all of these important(?) and necessary(?) programs, including agriculture.

I wonder if our Founding Fathers could have ever imagined that what they wrote to guarantee “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” to residents of the United State of America would have grown to this number of government agencies, people and buildings to make it happen. And will today’s groups who want their “fair share” ever realize that you can’t continue to spend more than you take in, forever? I hope so, but I doubt that it will ever happen. I’m afraid “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.