Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Visit to the American Embassy

From the website of the U.S. Embassy in Berlin . . .

Sept. 27: U.S. farmers visit the Embassy

Four U.S. farmers visited the Embassy to meet with USDA Staff to discuss U.S.-German agricultural issues such as trade, biotechnology and animal welfare. The four are part of the McCloy Fellows in Agriculture program and will be touring German agriculture for the next several weeks on a program organized by the German Farmer's Union. The 2011 McCloy fellows are Tracy Grondine of Virginia, Katherine Harrison of Ohio, Chad Vorthman of Colorado, and Shane Otley of Oregon. This marks the 35th year this program has been running.

Tourists are Easily Amused

27 September 2011

This is a seven-person bicycle: one person steers and six others pedal. We saw several of these in the tourist area around the Brandenburg Gate. I had never seen anything like this and was highly amused!

Conundrums of International Travel . . .

27 September 2011

This amused me: I flew all the way to Germany to eat Australian lamb in a Mexican restaurant . . . and it was excellent! Yay for Berlin!

Happy Election Day from the Goats!

It's Election Day in America, and I am inspired to address two of my favorite things: food & politics! Thanks to my training in the social sciences, I am very much an observer of life around me. Unfortunately, this can serve to anger me at times. I had one of those moments at the grocery store on Friday . . .

I firmly believe that we each make the decisions that form our lives as adults. While there are situations that we cannot control -- disease, unexpected job loss, natural disasters -- we are responsible for the lives we create for ourselves. Like any human, I have had struggles, but I view them as no more profound than any other person's troubles. It is simply part of the human condition. That being said, there are certainly things I would like: more money, my own land, health insurance, etc, etc. I recognize, however, that I have chosen my life. I could have a better paying job, but the trade-off would take me away from the farm & alter my schedule. I could find a career that provided health insurance, but then I might have to drive downtown during rush hour every day. There are trade-offs to every situation -- and we are all responsible for the situation we choose.

That being said, I am glad to have the life that I do, although it comes with certain limitations. One of these is financial. This limitation, however, has made me into quite the bargain shopper! (There is an upside to everything!) On Friday, when I decided that groceries were definitely needed before the weekend, I knew exactly how much cash I could possibly spend. I went through the aisles of my local Kroger making purchases that were on sale and fit my strict budget. Anything that was not a necessity was postponed. I selected food items that I would cook -- no prepared/boxed food items. I was most delighted that my basket full of foods was a total of only $16.00 at the cash register! What was unsettling was the contrast I observed with the customer ahead of me in line . . .

As aforementioned, I like to observe human behavior. The indidvidual in front of me was dressed casually, but in nice clothes. The two children with them were likewise neatly attired, and appeared alert & healthy. I knew they must have a certain level of income to possess a car to bring them to this suburban grocery store. I noticed that the individual ahead of me had a handful of purchases, including a large bag of Doritos and a box of pre-packaged Hostess cupcakes. When the lady at the register rang up this individual's purchases, the total was $16 and change. The individual then paid for it with an electronic benefit card, or EBT -- the modern day name for Food Stamps.

I do not believe the government should dictate what we are able to choose to feed our families. I also believe there is a need for assistance to individuals who need short-term help to aid them during difficult times. I am offended, however, that my tax dollars are being used to subsidize the purchase of Doritos and hostess cupcakes! For the price of a large bag of Doritos, this person could have purchased a bag of potatoes to feed their family for days. For the price of a box of packaged Hostess cupcakes, this individual could have bought a bag of flour and baked bread for their family for weeks. The argument that some individuals have to purchase food of this nature while on Food Stamps due to the fact that they reside in "food deserts" is absolutely unacceptable -- the person I happened to observe was shopping at a major grocery in our community. And they were shopping with MY TAX DOLLARS!

I work hard. I scrimp and save. I do not take, nor do I want, any government payments. I simply want to keep the money that I endeavor to earn by the sweat of my brow & the labor of my hands. The ultimate question here is whether it is acceptable under Constitutional law -- or under God's law -- that one class of citizen should be expected to subsidize another. I argue strongly that it is not only unjust, it is sinful. By taking MY tax dollars and YOUR tax dollars to subsidize government payments for others, we in fact are penalizing ALL of us. Yes, I lose out on the money I have legitimately earned, but even more profound is the enslavement to the government that is created when citizens come to rely on government handouts. As Americans, we cannot financially afford, we cannot ethically afford, and we cannot politically afford to force our own people into servitude to the government.

Today is Election Day. Please go out and vote. Please vote to create an America that is prosperous and free. May God bless you and may God bless our great country!