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The good ol' days of government

Agriculture.com Staff 01/05/2006 @ 2:08pm

Sometimes I long for the good old days.

No, not 1972. That's the year I turned 18. It should have been a good year, but between Vietnam and Richard Nixon, I don't miss it a bit.

I'm thinking about the really old good old days.

For instance, I'm looking back about a thousand years or so, when, in times of war, kings and other leaders personally led their troops from the front line. In other words, the guys who started the wars had to pick up a sword or ax and waddle right up to the front where all the bad stuff happened. And in order to fund the war, the king would quite often hock his own jewelry.

I'm willing to give it a try. When I look at the newspapers, I read about all sorts of people from all around the world who I'd like to see put their money where their mouths are. It might be a good way for the people in government stay in touch with the real world, something that's sorely needed.

I suppose it's because most of our government is so ... big. As a county commissioner, if I vote to raise property taxes, my taxes go up, too, and I own about as much land as my neighbors. If I vote to cut hours for snowplow drivers, I'm stranded at home along with everyone else. If one of my constituents gets mad at me, he knows my home phone number, and if I do get a call, first names are usually all that is needed. You can't get much more personal -- involved -- than that.

You don't have to move very far up the governmental food chain and all that gets lost. A few years ago, we took our family to Washington, D.C. A friend met us at the airport and we had to walk quite a way to get to his car. I thought it was a little strange that the parking lot right outside the door of the airport was half empty, and then discovered it was half empty because it was reserved for senators. All the regular people had to trudge on past to the peasant's parking lot. It seemed wrong to me at the time, and it seems wrong to me now. How can people be expected to make good decisions when they can't even really understand the problems because they're sheltered from the effects?

Here's an interesting statistic for you. Of our one hundred United States Senators, roughly half are millionaires (it can be tricky to accurately determine how much money a senator has because of blind trusts, etc.) Of those same one hundred senators, exactly one has a child serving in the military.

That's right, one.

It just makes you think. I want people who care to be the ones making the important decisions. I mean really care, right down to their bones. And if you don't have any frame of reference, can you really care like that? If I vote to raise property taxes, I know it's going to take real money, money I'll miss, right out of my pocket. That means something, especially since I'm coming from the point of view of a guy who's met a payroll and worked for wages. And not only am I not a millionaire, I can't even see it from where I stand.

If a senator votes to send our young people into peril, and not one of those young people is someone he knows and cherishes, that means something, too.

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