Weekly Posting of the Conservative Cow Doctor


Cattle Guards

To 99 percent of readers, the words “cattle guard” conjures an image of a pipe grate spanning a roadway. Today’s story concerns the one percent who mistakenly pictured a blue-gloved TSA agent, twirling a lariat in a feedlot. Their error does not occur out of ignorance, but from lack of familiarity with commonplace things from a different environment. I have seen this phenomenon first hand.

When we started our cattle drive business in the mid ‘90s, we knew there were risks to placing guest cowboys in new surroundings. We planned for all possible mishaps, but in terms of accidents, we were not as good at guessing as our guests were at surprising us. The perfect example occurred one June morning while trailing the herd up the West Pass Creek Road. A cattle guard marks the Montana / Wyoming state line, so an open gate in the borrow pit allows the cattle to plod off the road, through the gate and then back up on the road. The pace trailing momma cows and calves can be unmercifully slow and on this morning a guest had fallen fast asleep on his horse. Normally this is okay because then the horse can make all the important decisions without first having to debate the issue with its rider. Unfortunately this morning, the horse was also asleep and he ambled right into the cattle guard. Luckily, the cattle guard was so full of road dirt it did not pose much of a leg-breaking threat. The clink of horse shoes on the pipe startled the pony and he froze long enough for me to swing off, grab him by the bit, and back him off the cattle guard. Crisis averted. I mentally scribbled a note to add cattle guards to our things-cowboys-should-know lecture. This same handicap of unfamiliarity also occurs when normal people engage bureaucrats in a battle of wits and this brings me to my point.

Recently, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) proposed regulations blocking farm and ranch kids under 16 years old from operating power equipment and those under 18 from working around livestock. Agriculture families and trade groups rightfully went ballistic, just as the DOL anticipated. Countering with points such as 6, 8, or 10-year-old ranch kids are old enough to trail cows mistakenly validates the premise the DOL belongs in the middle of the child/parent relationship in the first place. They do not! Once this initial point is conceded, all further negotiations simply tighten the noose of big government around the necks of American families. As predictable as the sun rising every morning, the DOL soon softened their stance and agreed to work with the Department of Agriculture to modify their new rules. Thinking they had scored a victory, agriculture supporters cheered, figuratively swung back into the saddle and unknowingly rode right off into a cattle guard. We are relying on one bureaucracy, the Department of Agriculture, to rein in the expansion of another, the Department of Labor. This will not occur because they are on the same team—both divisions of the executive branch established by the president to purposely grow the central government.

The street fighter guide to politics suggests three options:

First, elect congressional representation who will jerk the purse strings and jerk them hard. The federal government is $16 trillion in debt and the DOL has 17,419 employees with a budget of $12 billion per year. Pink-slipping half of the DOL employees will save $6 billion annually. The DOL has the economic power of a bake sale and it generates nothing but paperwork and regulation so halving it will scarcely be noticed. Second, replace our chief executive with someone who favors limited government as expressed in our “Declaration of Independence” rather than the massive central government described in the “Communist Manifesto”. This would be beneficial on multiple fronts. Third, establish a strong state legislature with the will to nullify unconstitutional federal overreaches of power.

A strong American family is the backbone of our republic. My children joined our family workforce in my veterinary clinic or on our ranch well before the age of ten. By their teen years they held positions of responsibility guiding guest cowboys trailing cattle up the Little Horn Trail. Their work environment could be hot, cold, wet, dark, windy, or snowy and every tough moment developed their character and work ethic. Today all three are gainfully employed and are busy raising eight little American patriots. Politicians desiring to create a nation of helpless dependents despise citizens with self-reliance, but now you understand the true motive behind the DOL decree.

Home     |     Products     |     Services     | About Us     |     Contact Us Copyright (c) 2009 Krayton Kerns  All rights reserved.