If you can’t say anything nice…

Way too many people in our society are not afraid to attack people for their thoughts and ideas. I’m not talking about calling a spade and spade and trying to set the record straight, I’m talking about being accusatory, inflammatory and flat-out lying. But it has been a great tool for me to learn from these last few weeks.

I have become vocal about a few local issues that are coming up for vote in June. Well, right now I’m really just focusing on one: the property tax issue. I’m not going to get into the measure here, I’ve already discussed my thoughts and have been thoroughly educated on the “flaws” of my thinking and the “empty arguments” that I have. Which is funny, considering the amount of time that I’ve spent trying to research and read and come up with an opinion that I thought was based in quite a bit of fact, and just a little good ol’-fashioned gut feeling.

No, I don’t want to discuss the measure…but I would like to discuss how we handle people. Perhaps I’m living in a fantasy world, but I wasn’t raised this way. There’s a difference between discussing a political viewpoint and attacking the person talking. And those lines are crossed way too often.

I get it, really I do…we just don’t live in that kind of society any more. Our political ads attack everything from how your parents raised you to decisions you made before you were old enough to vote. Yet, for some reason, I held out hope that our state, the friendly state of North Dakota, would hold itself to a higher standard. I don’t like being wrong about that.

If we want to have a good discussion, and have everyone with questions get a chance to have them answered (truthfully and honestly), and have a fair and open election, then why have a lawsuit trying to prevent elected officials from speaking out? Why do we tell those that would be able to answer the question, that they can’t talk? And if we silence those people, then why is it so wrong for me to speak out?

I am simply a mother of four boys, trying my hardest to do right by them. And instead of sitting back on my haunches and complaining about the lot life left me, I’m standing up, taking control of our future and speaking out when I feel I need to…it’s the reason our ancestors fought so hard for our freedoms. And it’s a right that I take very seriously.

And if that makes me a threat…well, what are you trying to hide? I enjoy a good debate, I love to learn about different aspects that I may not have thought of myself, I love to hear other viewpoints and I’m not afraid to change my mind, admit if I’m wrong or alter my opinion.

But when I give my opinion, when I write about something on here, you can bet that I’ve done my research, that I’ve tried to see things from both points of view and that I’ve put time and energy into the issue. And if that threatens you – well, maybe you should do the same.

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Reflecting on a tax meeting

A meeting about taxes…sounds like fun, huh? I thought it was going to be. In fact, I fully expected to learn a little, have some questions answered, and walk away with new insight, new information and a new attitude. I was wrong.

As I mentioned before, I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to be in favor of the state of North Dakota doing away with property taxes. I wasn’t convinced that Measure 2 (as it’s called) was the answer we were all looking for, when trying to consider relief for tax payers. And now I’m most certain of it.

So what happened? To tell you the truth, not much. And that was the main problem. Instead of answering questions, there was a lot of double-speak, dancing around the issue and turning the blame to the legislature. To top it all off, they cut off the conversation after an hour-and-a-half. That included introductions, each side giving their case and a wrap-up. Definitely not enough time to truly discuss the issue.

But the final comment summed it all up (let me paraphrase it for you): So, the legislature is our problem, and the solution is to give them full control?

Doesn’t sound any better today than it did a week ago.

The nail in the coffin for me? Something that wasn’t even brought up at the meeting: let’s say that this measure is passed. Let’s say that after six months or so, we realize that it’s a terrible mistake and it’s costing our state way more than we expected. Can we change it the next go round? No. According to Article III, section 8 of our current state consitution, “a measure approved by the electors may not be repealed or amended by the legislative assembly for seven years from its effective date, except by a two-thirds vote of the members elected to each house.”

Yikes.

We want real change? Elect people not afraid to make real change. Don’t go throwing out everything we have in exchange for promises that are made without a plan in place.

Our state is on a solid footing economically. And in today’s economy, it seems to be a world-class mistake to jeopardize that.

Quick update

Things have been crazy around here. We finished harvest! Yay! Cows are on the way home as we speak, Halloween is over, parent-teacher conferences are done, Grandma’s house is now empty (a story I’ll have to share sometime…it’s a doozy!) and I’m getting ready to leave tomorrow for a fall Farm Bureau YF&R meeting in St. Louis. Yeah, and that is just the last 4 days!

Good news: Measure 2 was defeated – yay! I’d like to think that I helped educate a few people and had a small role in that.

Mediocre news: There will be lots of changes in the future for ND. We now are sending 2 new members to Congress. Good? Bad? We’ll see. Whatever happens, here’s to hoping that agriculture is at the forefront of their minds when voting. We will all need to be vigilant and loud when moving forward.

Bad news: Eh, why dwell on the bad. Lets skip it.

So, my next post will be in St. Louis (if the hotel has wireless…any suggestions on a carrier for traveling? Some of those are way spendy!). We’ll keep you posted!

Bad taste in my mouth

They did it. After swearing up and down that they weren’t accepting any funds from HSUS, the backers of Measure 2 sold out. Apparently someone, somewhere is pretty nervous that they’ll lose the battle, because they’ve brought in the big dogs.

What am I talking about? Well, this morning I caught a commercial on TV regarding Measure 2. Supposedly it was a group of hunters talking about the lack of ethics in a “canned hunt.” Comparing high-fence hunting to going to the zoo and shooting a buffalo. Funny part is that the measure doesn’t “technically” address buffalo, just farmed elk and deer. So according to the sponsors of the bill, shooting a buffalo in an enclosure is just fine. (Although I think the zoo may have a word or two to say about it! LOL!)

At the end of the commercial, those little words show up at the bottom: “This ad paid for by the Humane Society Legislative Fund.” I’m guessing that the measly $100,000 or so that the ads cost were a joke to them. I mean, they have millions upon millions at their disposal, so this would just be hardly a drop in the bucket.

I wonder how many people sent them money, thinking they were saving a dog or a cat at a shelter, only to find out now that they’ve paid for an ad in North Dakota to take away certain hunting practices?

I’ve already heard some of the sponsors of the measure claim on radio that they have no control over where HSUS spends their money. That they didn’t ask for them to come here and get involved. That they haven’t had direct involvement with the cause. Sorry if I’m a tad skeptical about all that, but it seems a bit of a desperate attempt to try to sway last-minute voters. And I hope they realize what they’ve started.

Once a group like HSUS gets financially involved in a fight, they don’t like to lose. Again, check out what’s happening in Ohio…or any of the other states that have issues that interest this particular group. Their website claims North Dakota’s Measure 2 as one of their projects…again, the sponsors of this measure should be wary.

The good news is that this particular ad will stop running in less than a week. But you know what they say, once the barn door is open…well, you know.

Oh, and by the way, vote NO on Measure 2.

Measure Two

I have never been the type to write what people would consider “political” editorials. Don’t get me wrong, I have very strong convictions, but I’ve always felt that everyone is entitled to their positions and my chance of changing anyone’s opinions was between slim and none.

I’m rethinking that now.

There is no way that I will be able to protect my children’s legacy if I do not take any given opportunity that I have to voice my thoughts and opinions. And so I begin…

The latest item that has come up that has me concerned is Measure 2 in North Dakota. At first, it appears innocent enough. The measure calls for banning what they deem as high-fence hunting…in essence, it’s a step in the direction of banning all fee hunting.

To me, it’s a very, very slippery slope. Don’t get me wrong, I do not participate in fee hunting. I do not participate in high-fence hunting. I, personally, do not see myself ever involved in either. But guess what? That’s my choice. Freedom of choice has always been an American principle.

Part of the measure that bothers me is the infringement on property rights. If I have bought and paid for the land to be hunted on and the animals to be hunted, why can’t I market them the way I choose? Where does the line get drawn?

Someone said to my husband that by banning high-fence hunting, we will appease the animal rights movement and they will leave the rest of hunting rights in North Dakota alone. Really? Ask Ohio how easy it is to appease the AR groups. How about California? In fact, please, please find me an example where giving in to any of the AR groups has been successful in easing their demands and creating a peaceful existence for all.

The other part of the measure that bothers me is the vagueness of the wording. When discussing “privately-owned big game,” I wonder if the sponsors of the measure realize what they are saying. If big game is privately owned, then it is no longer wildlife. It is now livestock. Can you see where I’m going with this?

If I’m reading the measure correctly, it basically states that hunting of privately-owned wildlife (livestock) in a man-made enclosure (fence) would be illegal. There are no specifics to the height of the fence, no specifics to the types of animal, no specifics whatsoever. So if we now pass a measure that makes the use of non-traditional livestock illegal on your OWN property, then how far is the step to make the use of cattle illegal? Is it a far stretch? Maybe. But not nearly far enough for my comfort.

This measure is a step in the wrong direction…and to top it off, immediately it’ll only effect 12 operations in North Dakota. Twelve! We are putting hunting as a whole at risk, we are putting animal agriculture at risk, just for the sake of putting 12 people out of business. Is the price worth it?

Not to me.