To The Point

Stamps.com & Other Oddities.

If you have been following the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association (NMCGA) website, the emails we generate or even some local news, you know that rural Post Offices and postal sorting facilities in New Mexico and across the nation are in jeopardy. Currently there are some 54 New Mexico Post Offices and six sorting facilities on the cut list.

We are not alone in concern. There are numerous petitions and websites in cyberspace that are taking on the fight.

When this was called to our attention we wrote letters of protest to the congressional delegation and the Post Master General and encouraged everyone to do the same. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall were already on the issue and shed some additional light on the subject including the fact that some of New Mexico’s mail sorting is already being shifted to Arizona.

The flaws in the plan are many. For example, one might ask why not close offices in major metropolitan areas? Some urban dwellers might just have to drive a bit further, rather than mandating that rural residents who are already at a disadvantage in receiving most “public” services drive ten to 50 miles further to have communication with the outside world.

With an office in urbanville, I can tell you part of the problem with that. It turns out that the Post Office used by NMCGA, and the other businesses housed in this building, is on the cut list. Not really a problem, we can just drive a bit further, right? Wrong. It seems that the Post Office we are likely to be assigned to is about eight miles from the office. Albuquerque’s Main Post Office is just as close, if not closer. We often end up taking mail there because we have learned that we can cut at least a day off delivery times using that location to drop off. The catch is that if we want to keep the same P.O. Box numbers, we have to move where we are assigned, not what might be closest and most convenient.

Nobody figures in the cost of a change of address for a business. Letterheads, business cards, membership applications, and so on, are expensive. The confusion of an address change when you haven’t moved is also a challenge.

So much for my personal problems. They will be slight compared to the injustice that may be served on about 100 NMCGA-member families who are about to lose a lifeline to the rest of the world. Perhaps you have to have lived in the country to understand that it is the Post Office, the grocery store and the schools that make up a rural community. Take any one of them away and the decay starts. Many rural communities have already started down that path with the loss of grocery stores.

On the other hand, how much sense does it make to demand that the government keep alive a system that is not supporting itself? It would take a book to cover the litany of complaints against the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) from its’ customers — the stories a magazine publisher could tell you about just one week of less than adequate service.

But aside from a pretty much total loss of sense of customer service and pride in workmanship, it seems like the USPS is bent on driving itself out of business. Not only does their website promote using the internet for numerous services — seemingly without any consideration that once something is purchased, there must be a postal person to deliver the goods — but they are licensing others to do the same.

During a jaunt to Amarillo and back for the Texas Cattle Feeders Convention, I had plenty of radio time. On weekdays, that generally includes listening to some conservative talk show. One might think that those folks should understand how the world works. I was stunned on this trip to hear the commentator, a well-known attorney on both radio and television, take a break to promote one of her sponsors — Stamps.com.

Using that service, you will never have to leave the house to buy postage again. Just use your computer and printer and have your mail ready to hand to your postal person. Apparently she has not heard of the proposed closures nor does she understand that the USPS must do a certain level of business just to keep a postal person to come and pick up your letters!

I got even more agitated when I got home and visited the Stamps.com website. They are licensed by the USPS. Clearly the inmates are running the asylum when conservative thought leaders AND the government don’t have an understanding of the mechanics of commerce and what is necessary to keep the door open of a business.

There was another one of these mental giants on a conservative television talk show a few weeks ago spouting that nobody would expect Wal-Mart to keep the doors open if they weren’t at least breaking even, so why would one expect the Post Office to be any different. The problems associated with this logic are so convoluted I don’t even know where to start. This guy fits right in with those folks who think that health care is a basic human right. Before someone gets mad, I am not against health care for those in need. However, that care is a moral and ethical responsibility, not a “right.”

So, what should you do? First write a letter to the Post Master General and the congressional delegation (you can find their addresses at www.nmagriculture.org). Ask them to save rural post offices and not cut off the middle portion of the nation from the rest of the world.

Then STOP using the internet to buy postal supplies and anything else you purchase reasonably close to you. We wonder why there are no jobs, but we keep buying the cheapest things we can find, often online, exporting local jobs to the other end of the electricity. What are we going to do when there is no one to deliver most of the largess? Who is keeping UPS and Federal Express at semi-reasonable prices for those things that are too large for the USPS or absolutely need overnight delivery?

NO Janet, we are NOT berating the Border Patrol

Fires, the drought, sensible placement of a Border Patrol Forward Operating Base (FOB) and wolves have taken the forefront on the border in recent months. That doesn’t mean that there are not still problems down there, but at least things are at a dull roar.

But the disappointment in the federal Administration is not abated. It is bad enough when the President tries to pass off the issue as a partisan problem. But when the Secretary of Homeland Security tries to shirk the responsibility of her office by telling the media that she is tired of those who belittle the efforts of the “hardworking men and women of the Border Patrol” when they complain about border security, it is almost more than one can stand. I won’t go so far as to say that someone may have at some time criticized the Border Patrol. I would expect that that group is not immune to slackers any more than any other career.

However, as a former Governor of Arizona, Janet Napolitano is way beyond disingenuous when she tries to make border security about individual people rather than the culture of an Administration that refuses to acknowledge that there is and has been an ongoing war along the Mexican border for years.

We ARE the 1 percent

Lest anyone think that this statement is some kind of admission that ranchers really are just rich guys loafing on the land, this admission is probably worse. Ranching and agriculture are the 1 percent who has created a society where thousands of people across the country can show up to camp on public property, with and without a permit to protest, for at least weeks and apparently months at a time, to demand more for nothing.

I had an opportunity this month to see not only the Occupy (or is it Un-Occupy) Wall Street “movement” in Albuquerque, but I visited the NCBA office in Washington, D.C., right across the street from where the occupiers have set up a grungy camp with a four-month permit in a place that used to be a calm and serene plaza for the entire public to enjoy. I also had the pleasure of driving by the bunch in New York City where it appears the city has gone so far as to create gawker lane for drive bys within a stone’s throw from Ground Zero. The visit to Battery Park was marred by the sounds of the drums that the “protesters” pound on day and night.

The days when people put in a hard day of labor just to have a decent place to sleep and a full stomach are not that far gone. It is agriculture becoming efficient enough for just over one percent of Americans to be able to produce affordable and wholesome food for the rest of the country and some of the rest of the world.

This is an over-used and under-understood statement that may have to come home to roost before the country and the world right themselves. Few people understand that wealth comes from production. Our country was not founded on people giving each other haircuts and cleaning motel rooms. It is those industries like agriculture, mining, forestry, oil and gas and other natural resource uses that produce a tangible commodity that is necessary for the masses to survive and thrive.

While the occupiers rail against the banks, they are not above taking automatic deposits into bank accounts so that they can continue their play. They say that living communally with food just showing up and a cooking crew is the way everyone should live — right up until some homeless people showed up wanting some of that free food. Then when the snow came early to the East Coast, the occupiers needed tips from the homeless on how to survive the wet and cold.

But perhaps the most revolting thing I heard about production came from a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts. She claims that all wealth belongs to the “public.” Even privately manufactured products and tangible goods are public because “public” roads are used to transport those goods to market. A brief history lesson would tell her that roads were created to get agricultural products to town. In Texas you still see FM roads — farm to market roads.

She further expounded that factories were public because police departments provide security for them and police departments are paid for with public tax dollars. She, and a whole bunch of other people, seem unaware that factories pay taxes too and generally a far greater share for the benefits they received that any single individual.

I take heart in the fact that if we study history and listen to the “old guys” that everything is cyclic. Those before dealt with many of these problems just as those after will. We can be proud that we have elections. And we can be happy that one of the major parties already has their president so we will only be tortured by half as many commercials in the months to come.

It is also a fact that Herman Cain doesn’t hold a candle to the benign sexual harassment one might receive working for a bunch of cowboys and cattlemen. Just ask Jimmie R. Bason.

Advice?

Contrary to what one might think after participating in or reading the results of the Latino Sustainability Institute’s Hispanic Conservation Values New Mexico Statewide Survey, hunting and fishing are prohibited on the following national monuments: Gila Cliff Dwellings, White Sands, El Morro or Bandelier.

The overview of the survey says that some 58 percent of Hispanics in New Mexico support designation of more monuments — after being told that you can hunt and fish on the four mentioned. We contacted each of these monuments and found that none of them allow hunting or fishing. Bandelier has allowed fishing, but fires have put an end to that.

The overview further states that 56 percent of Hispanics in New Mexico who are involved in farming or ranching “generally speaking” support greater regulation on federal lands. Would all those REALLY in favor please let me know?

More next month!