Saturday, November 13, 2010
SOAKING IT TO THE RICH IN MONTANA
So, I’m fresh back from a week in hunting camp, pursuing some of the most expensive meat on the hoof you can possibly find. It was, as always, more about wall tents and wood-stoves, starlight and sunrise, campfires and companionship than it was about snuffing Bambi. Although that was fun too. Along with the farting contests, dirty jokes and the eternal “mine’s bigger” firearms debate.
The experience of hunting camp which struck me the most and which still remains with me, though, was having a very long talk to a rancher who let us hunt deer on his land. The guy was exactly my age, with three kids ranging from junior high school to a college freshman. The ranch was only average sized by Montana standards, and had been in his family since his great grandfather first came to Big Sky country from the Ould Sod (North Dakota). In the beginning, there was a log cabin of Douglas fir from the mountains, and then a barn built of rough planks ripped out of Cottonwood trees with a crosscut saw, a raised platform, a neighbor man and a lot of sweat and blisters.
Present day, it is a beautiful ranch. The guy takes pride in it, and in the assets, and it clearly shows. All the buildings were neatly painted; the yards immaculate. The well-watered hayfields still showed green alfalfa despite the lateness of the season. The machinery was probably well kept, too. I couldn’t tell as it was all neatly put away from the weather behind closed doors in a big pole building. The stackyard had the big round hay bales lined up dress-right-dress like soldiers on parade. The fenceposts were straight and solid, with the wire all stretched tight as a drum, a job that takes a great deal of time and work (and makes it hard on hunters’ crotches).
The Black Angus cattle were fat, dumb and happy. As were the mule deer, whitetails, coyotes, beavers, muskrats, jack rabbit, waterfowl and all the other critters we saw in our hikes across the ranch lands. He said the elk come down when the weather turns bad to feed on the hayfields and grain stubble. Some of the old wooden fenceposts sported nesting boxes for Western bluebirds, and no doubt furnished perches for meadowlarks in the spring.
It would sure be a heart-breaker to lose a place like that, especially after it had remained in family hands for so many generations.
But the rancher, you see, is “rich” and the politics and politicians of socialism and class envy demand that we must “soak it to the rich”.
Last January, the estate tax or, as it is commonly known, the Death Tax, was temporarily eliminated last January, but is scheduled to come back with a vengeance this January. An arbitrary limit of a one million dollar exemption is followed by a 55% tax on all remaining assets. The liberal elite and their media lackeys are all for this as a just and equitable scheme, making those rich bastards pay “their fair share”.
The problem with farms and ranches is that they are “rich” in assets but actually quite poor in the way of cash. The land is only worth real money to the farmer when he sells it to raise capital; some temporary cash, but the asset is now gone forever. That American-made John Deere combine in the shed may technically be worth $200,000 but is only of value to the ranchers for a couple short weeks in the fall Just a few pieces of modern farm machinery can hit that million dollar limit real quick, but like a new car driven off the lot, just try to get blue book price on that tractor if you have to sell it to pay taxes. Those Angus out in the slough grass are worth a lot on the ground and on paper, but not too damn much at the grocery store. The time, the purchase of sterile seed from a monopoly, the equipment, fertilizer, work and spraying required for a healthy crop of wheat works out to waaayyyy less than minimum wage when the profits are realized at harvest time.
The man in question has already had to deal with the death of his 52-year-old cousin and his father this past year. The ranch reverted to his mother, who still lives in her own original house on the place, where she can see her children and grand-children and the land she has lived for the past fifty years. When she passes on, well, despite lawyers and estate planning, the government still demands 55% of what the son hopes to continue ranching with, and to pass on to his own children. He must sell his assets to raise the cash to pay the government its blood money, leaving him with neither cash nor assets, and the prospect of selling out what remains because he won’t be able to make a living from it.
We talked for quite some time, three of us leaning on the hood of the pickup truck. As we bid farewell, he said, “I’ll let you guys hunt again next year…if I’m still here.”
So, to the remaining 3% of the American population still engaged in feeding the world, with a dozen USDA employees “serving” each one of you, I urge you to care for your land, be frugal, and work hard. The government wants to confiscate some real good stuff, you rich bastards.
I don't think even ol' John Wayne could have stopped these modern day rustlers and land barons operating under the guise of government.