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governemnt debt lingers near

Sometimes You Just Have To Smile To Keep From Crying

President Abraham Lincoln, who certainly knew sorrow and tribulation in his life and administration, once said to a friend when the U.S. Civil War was going badly for the Union that: “I laugh because I must not cry, that is all, that is all.”

A couple of recent events, though they fall short of the trials faced by our 16th U.S. president, made me think of that quote.

A horse in Connecticut recently bit a boy in the face, after which a Connecticut court concluded that horses are a naturally vicious species and the horse owners should have restrained the horse to prevent the injury. The horse industry in Connecticut has vowed to take the case to the state’s Supreme Court, as it would make owning horses uninsurable and jeopardize the state’s horse industry.

At first blush, it’s easy to write these kinds of court rulings off; we assume that a superior court, like the Connecticut State Supreme Court in this case, will see the nonsense and reverse the decision. At least, I assume the court will, but the implications are real and fairly far reaching if the court doesn’t.

For instance, it was big news when the Animal Liberation Front claimed credit for vandalizing the butter cow at the Iowa State Fair earlier this year. But it would be even sadder if we were to see a sign indicating that the Iowa State Fair had been cancelled because it was unable to obtain insurance.

Will we as producers someday have to direct all visitors to our operations to the office to sign a waiver before we can take them out to the pasture to show them our cows?

On a related note, I’ve been watching the latest political wrangling over the federal debt ceiling, budget deficit, and Obamacare debate play out over the last several weeks in Washington, D.C. It seems like almost everyone agrees that:

  • We are on an unsustainable fiscal path, in that this country is spending far more than it takes in, and
  • The federal health care law as currently structured is fatally flawed and threatens to redefine both health care and economic growth in potentially negative ways going forward.

Yet, those realizations are also accompanied by the assumption that any action taken to attempt to solve the problems will face severe political ramifications. The result is that a few people will continue to bay at the moon. Meanwhile, the folks inside the Washington Beltway will elect not to fix the holes in the sinking ship, preferring to jostle over who will be the captain as the ship goes down.


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