Letter from Langdon: Boogeyman Politics

[imgbelt img=0807-missouri-primary-senate_full_600.jpg]With constitutional amendments, scare tactics and a bumper crop of fuzzy thinking, the only thing we have to fear is politics itself.


Amendment No. 1 assures the right to conduct “agriculture.” But the proposed wording is so broad and all inclusive that the amendment looks more like a blank check that big agribusiness can cash against family farms. Conservative farm groups, which is to say about 90% of all of them, are backing the amendment because  boogeymen Humane Society and Environmental Protection Agency are out to get us. (See Richard’s column on this topic here.)

The way I see it, clueless government and seed and market monopolies will get me way before the boogeyman does.

Other proposed amendments like  No. 5 for gun rights and No. 9 for privacy of electronic communications look about the same: broad and applicable to just about anything anyone might want … like allowing convicted felons to pack a sidearm.

So texting drivers beware: Amendment No. 9 may keep the cops from checking your phone, but if you hit a felon who’s packing? The Amendment No. 5 penalty could be severe.

Missouri conservatives keep looking for ways to save tax dollars. Around here, tax credits get passed out like candy at a Fourth of July political parade. One set of sales tax credits for a few businesses threatens to cut local city and county revenue by millions across the state if Governor Nixon’s veto is overridden.

The city of Hannibal alone has been projected to lose over $800,000.

I once spoke to a conservative state senator who tolerantly explained to me that tax credits have no cost. They are budget neutral because lawmakers don’t have to count what they don’t collect. But budgets are based on revenue as well as expense, so any cut in projected revenue affects the budget, I argued.

He just shrugged and walked away.

Ever mindful of the bottom line, careful conservatives have placed a sales tax hike for highways not in statutes where it belongs and could be cut, but in an amendment to the Constitution where it would take something more than an act of Congress to repeal.

Sometimes government giveth, and sometimes government taketh away. Good roads are popular among drivers, and road taxes are popular among sales-tax exempt construction companies who giveth generously at election time.

It’s a win-win situation.

Richard Oswald, a fifth generation farmer, lives in Langdon, Missouri, and is president of the Missouri Farmers Union.