Holding the Pen

silhouette photo of person standing in neon lit hallway

Considering all the different nuances of a situation is necessary to make a right judgment.

Faceless and baseless—People say the strangest things. Sometimes what they say is true—sometimes it isn’t. The amount of vitriol doesn’t even have to match the amount of truth behind the words. I have a frequent person I read. His daily short thoughts come regularly into my inbox. Recently I came across a post he made entitled The Beef Tax.

In his not long, but longer than normal rant he asserted “We all pay this beef tax and it makes our beef expensive and much more…” It took him seven paragraphs to vent on the horrible nature of beef and its influence.

I try to tie my post to something spiritual. Sadly, sometimes the spiritual point is missed so before I finish—almost at the beginning—I’m going to put out here several takeaways.

First off, I’m not an expert in many things, and I wouldn’t try to give my expert opinion in any area in which I have no knowledge. I couldn’t tell you, for instance, the relationship between our taxes and Lockheed Martin or Haliburton, or… You see what I mean, and I wouldn’t spout off stuff just because I see or hear it in the news. Being truthful and accurate is necessary.

Ephesians 4:15 “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 4:25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.”

The beef tax article has nothing to do with truth and is certainly not speaking the truth. A second issue here is an honesty issue. It goes with the only line in his diatribe on the beef tax that I agreed with. “What would happen if we simply charged a fair price for the beef and milk that people consume?” (Or paid a fair price for these items? We could dream.)

James 5:4 “Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.”

People should be paid a fair price for their commodity, whether it be their time or labor.

There are two primary issues in mister unhappy beef-tax person’s rant. The first is addressed in the valuable question, “What would happen if we paid farmers a fair price for their beef and milk?”

A few years back I came across an article in a farm magazine, obviously not from an actual farmer, about how “farmers were just raking in the money taking advantage of all those government handouts.” My fuse was lit and I had words. I started out to write a rebuttal, but as usual, it got lost in the shuffle.

Here is part of that answer. Farming is the only business I know of where we are told in the springtime how much our inputs (such as seed, fertilizer, crop necessaries, fuel, and equipment) will cost us. Then at harvest time, we are told how much we will be paid for our crop—regardless.

We are told how much it will cost to put the crop in, then when we are ready to sell the crop we are told how much they will give us for the crop—and it doesn’t make any difference whether the end price will cover the beginning price. No one says, what’s a fair price for the farmer?

It doesn’t make any difference if our bills are paid, or our family is fed or clothed, or any such thing. Yes, people do ask, “then why do you continue to farm?”

Why indeed? There is a saying “If you ate today thank a farmer (and in many cases a truck driver). If you ate in peace thank a soldier…”

My beef tax article writer goes on to say that “U.S. taxpayers subsidize the cattle industry with billions of dollars… most goes to pay for feed crops and land allocation (to graze cattle)…”

There are programs that some farmers, who are willing to sell their souls to the government can sign up for and receive benefits. But that’s not every farmer, and does this mean farmers are raking in government handouts, and U.S. taxpayers are subsidizing the cattle industry? No, those are specific programs and not all farmers take part in those programs. Most of those programs are an attempt to keep farmers in line to do what the government wants them to do.

At one time some programs were designed and instituted to prevent farmers from going bankrupt. Now it’s evolved into the carrot and the stick. However, it’s not just in the government’s best interest to have farmers not go bankrupt and for them to provide food. Most people appreciate being able to go to the store and find food for their families.

Contrary to what the Beef Tax article says, farmers raise many crops. There is a long list—corn, soybeans, alfalfa, wheat, rye, other small grains, fruit, and nuts and although some crops do feed cows, this list shows much more than cows are fed.

An article from a few years back stated that farmers were becoming so efficient at running their farms; many also worked at off-farm jobs, increasing their raking in the money. The article missed the real point.

The point was that their farming operation was barely paying for the farming operation itself (prices hovering at cost of production) therefore not only did the farmer work a full-time job on the farm, often a ten-hour plus day, but then they worked off the farm to pay their living expenses.

In retrospect, it’s easy to point a finger and throw out accusations but that doesn’t make it true and there is not a beef tax making people’s beef more expensive. We don’t need that sort of division in a time when too many people are suspicious of others. At a time when inflation is eating up what little wages people take home from their jobs.

This is a snippet of the rebuttal and the warning that goes along with it. In the next post, I will address the second part of the issue.

A further admonition is found in the book of James.

James 5:7 “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.

8) Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. 

9) Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door. 

10) Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. 

11) Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.  12) But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.”