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Can We Make The Hard Choices?

With all that said, we in agriculture sit around the salebarn coffee shops and expound about financial responsibility, but are we any different?

The growth of the federal government over the last several years is unprecedented, and the growth in the federal debt frightening. Real unemployment is at levels we haven’t seen since the Great Depression, and the list of negatives goes on.

This is a great country, one that still sits atop the world’s heirarchy as its economic and military superpower. The experts are predicting that China will exceed the U.S. in gross output sometime in the next decade, and that the spending we’ve initiated on entitlements and health care are simply not sustainable. Pick up almost any article written by an economist and you’re far more likely to read about the U.S. becoming the next Greece rather than creating new levels of prosperity.

We continue to mortgage our future and the day of reckoning is drawing closer. The latest budget impasse in Washington, D.C., illustrates just how crazy things have gotten. Our representatives debated whether a $60-billion cut was too draconian, when the reality was that they were talking about simply cutting an increase in spending! What’s more, the Congressional Budget Office said the bottom-line effect of that $60-billion reduction would only be about $300 million. In the face of trillions of dollars in debt, we’re talking an insignificant effect.

I don’t blame the politicians; one thing our system has demonstrated is that politicians’ foresight doesn’t extend beyond the next election. The government spending and debt crisis is real, fueled by a growing number of people who are dependent upon the government. We’re compounding these problems with a weak dollar policy that is causing investment dollars to flee the country.

The bottom line is that if we stay on our current path, we’ll see our standard of living and wealth decline in this country. Without strong efforts to stop the decline in the value of the dollar and reduce spending, the economic engine of global growth will increasingly be reving up outside of our borders.

Instead, we debate how much to increase the debt ceiling limit. Look at Greece, Ireland, Asia, Mexico and Russia during their financial disasters and you will find foreign-currency debt and devaluation of their currency.

With all that said, we in agriculture sit around the salebarn coffee shops and expound about financial responsibility, but are we any different? The agriculture boom and golden era we are now enjoying is in some ways related to these very policies that we preach must be corrected.

After all, how does anyone justify the subsidies and tariffs on ethanol? Except to say it has made corn farming one of the most consistent and lucrative investments available. Meanwhile, the cheap dollar has sparked the demand strength in exports of our products and, as a whole, it’s a pretty good thing for agriculture (except for a few things like higher oil prices).

We may know intellectually what we need to do in the long term, but will we support it if it affects us negatively in the short term?