About danielrosmann

I am a farmer from southwest Iowa. I raise organic cattle and hogs as well as various organic crops. I type with two fingers and average about 4 words per minute. I start many sentences with I. Also, I'm less funny in person probably.

Alright gov’ment, get to work

As good as many of the charitable organizations are, there is only so much they can do to help others.  The greatest potential for helping the less fortunate still lies with the government.  That’s why with the new administration about to take over it is increasingly important to insist that they work on the problems that affect those who can’t help themselves.

Here, in no particular order, are some things I hope the new administration and Congress will take seriously and begin to undertake as soon as possible:

  • Tackling poverty issues, home and abroad
  • Implementing effective measures to stop global warming – effective, meaning more than just some milk toast mandate for cars to raise their fuel standards a few miles per gallon by 2080
  • Creating a stable food system involving local foods and a plan to get more farmers onto the land
  • Abandoning agressive warlike tendencies for strong diplomacy
  • Implementing a ban on country music
  • Working on getting Led Zeppelin back together
  • Establishing an inquiry into why the Kansas City Royals are so bad

Am I asking too much?  I know how politics work, so maybe this does come off as a little naive.  I’m still riding high on the feeling of post-election hope though.

By the way, the last three should be top priorities.

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Call for Lobbyists

Hey, do you guys get those Faithful Citizenship inserts in your bulletins after Mass?  Or are bulletins only a small town America thing any more?  And by small town America, I of course mean Real America.  (Sorry, my cynicism runs deep.  When I see a flag outside a house my first thought is, “Those people hate immigrants.”  That can’t be a good reaction.)

Anyway, the Faithful Citizenship inserts were put together by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and they act as guidelines for the election.  I was very pleased to see that they don’t tell you who to vote for, and in most cases it’s pretty clear that they severely criticize both parties for not doing enough work on the actual important issues of poverty, abortion, climate change, etc.  They urge voters to replace taxes and other personal and often selfish issues with these issues when voting, and I applaud them for this.

Now time for more cynicism.  How many voters will actually vote this way?  My guess is very few.  So does this mean real change within important problems, like poverty for example, has to be tackled without the help of the government?  With poverty, I suppose the right economic policies will help our nation’s poor, but I highly doubt that very much help will be given to the poor of the rest of the world.  We then have to rely on the organizations already spread too thin.  They do the best they can, but in many cases they are only able to treat the effect, when what is really needed is work on the cause.

The government really is needed therefore and has to be willing to sacrifice for the well being of all earth’s inhabitants.  And like everything else, this will probably only get done when we put our representatives on speed dial and lobby the hell out of the government.  (Cynicism) 

This dilemma is evident in almost all the major important problems in the world, besides just poverty.  Right now, the political candidates are feeling a lot of pressure, but I believe it’s after the election when they should feel it the most.  Because that is when we should start hammering them on working for those who need the most help.

Agriwhature?

It’s yet another important presidential election, and yet again neither candidate bothers to mention anything even remotely related to agriculture.  I find it ironic how both candidates constantly profess their love for small town America and still mention nothing about what these towns rely upon for their survival.  Agriculture policy is some of the most important for creating a sustainable world.  The economy is at the forefront of all issues being discussed, but this should still mean ag should be mentioned because of the crucial role ag plays in the economy.  Agriculture policy has the biggest influence on rural economies and has a bigger effect on the overall economy as a whole than more people probably realize.

On the off chance that one of the candidates does mention something related to agriculture, it is usually just a brief mention of ethanol from corn.  The most important topics within this issue should not be ethanol, however.  They should be how to create or promote an agriculture that will help the poorest and hungriest in the world, and specifically in our country, how to get more young people into farming. 

Just because I am a farmer, I don’t beleive I’m being shortsighted in saying all this.  What issue is more important than feeding the poor?  Other economic means of ending poverty are often mentioned, but none are as important as creating a stable food system.

Within the Catholic Church, the National Catholic Rural Life Conference has done a good job of trying to influence policy makers in order to create an ag policy that sustains rural communities and benefits the poor and hungry.  Catholic Rural Life is greatly underappreciated.  Their work, and the work of all sustainable agriculture groups, is a constant uphill struggle against corporate agriculture interests.  Many environmental groups have large amounts of money and therefore much lobbying power, but this is not true with the underfunded groups that focus on rural development.  As a result the lobbying efforts are defintely labors of love, and are not purely money-driven efforts. 

For many voters, agriculture is just another issue in an overly long election year, but it’s importance is undeniable and should not be forgotten.

Let’s all lie together

Here are some facts about me:

I grew corn that yielded 1000 bushels per acre last year.  Abraham Lincoln was my great great great great grandfather.  I once wrestled a bear for three days just for the heck of it.  I am a fan of the New York Yankees.

It’s okay, I can say these things, because this campaign season I have learned that it is perfectly reasonable to tell flat out lies without consequence. 

The candidates, (and I’m mostly referring to a specific set of candidates, though both sides are still to blame), claim to uphold Christian values and then go ahead break the ninth commandment: Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor.  How did lying become so acceptable in our country?  Only fake news shows like the Daily Show and underwatched news commentaries on PBS seem to call out the candidates on these lies.  Much of the rest of the media dismiss the lie as just “the candidate’s view” when hard evidence clearly points out that the candidate is lying.

We should not as a society become indifferent to the new political habit of routinely lying to win votes and slander the opposition.

Also, for a nonpartisan analysis of the truthfulness of the candidates’ statements I recommend going to factcheck.org.  This website relentlessly points out their falsehoods.

An Unhealthy Addiction

There are few things that cause me to sin more than fantasy baseball. 

Each baseball season it starts simply and innocently enough.  I join the same league I’ve been in the past few years and draft some players.  The first month I keep an eye on their stats and make a few changes, but ultimately go on with life as normal.

However, by the time the All-Star break comes around, fantasy baseball now dominates my thoughts.  I now begin to hope that the players on the other teams will do poorly, and even root against my favorite teams if it will help my fantasy team in some way.  And instead of being resourceful, I sit for hours looking at baseball stats.

As the end of the season arrives, madness sets in as my players do poorly.  I now pray for the players on the other teams to succumb to injury, and curse and punch the computer when it instead happens to me.  I become short with people during the day, constantly strategizing how I might gain some points.  Any relationships I have with friends and family are severely damaged from the total control fantasy baseball has over my life.  I am told that I am “insane” or “crazy” or “constantly foaming at the mouth when baseball scores scroll at the bottom of the tv”.  Finally, when it becomes clear that I am not going to win I begin to question the existence of God.

Well, maybe it doesn’t go that far.

But, anyway, all of this got me thinking that maybe I should start a fantasy league of my own where you draft various altar servers and get points for when they don’t screw up during Mass.  (When I space off during Mass, which unfortunately happens a bit too often, I start to count server errors.)  So you could trade servers throughout the year, and maybe get double points for holy days of obligation.  Maybe the tiebreaker could be guessing the length of the homily on Easter.  Okay, I’m thinking too hard about this.

Voting Selflessly

My dad is running for state representative in his district, and during the course of the campaign he has heard many different viewpoints as to what is important to that person as a voter. Opinions are opinions, and I’m not going to try and convince anyone that their value system is wrong. (I don’t think I’m going out on a limb to say that gun ownership is not one of the more important values though.) However, I propose that when you vote you consider what is helpful to everyone and not just yourself. If for example, you are worried about your taxes being too high, I think it would be wise to take a step back and examine just how helpful it is to everyone to vote for a candidate based solely on how that candidate will affect the amount of money you’ll have this year.

I am guilty of voting for my own needs and wants as well, unfortunately. Since I am very involved with agriculture, I tend to base much of my voting decisions on it. I believe that the platform I push for ultimately helps fight against poverty and other important issues, but at the same I sometimes find myself focusing only on the fact that this or that decision if enacted will positively affect my farm. A reevaluation of my voting priorities is probably necessary, and I challenge others to examine their own priorities as well.

Values, people.  Values.

The Opposite of Progress

Across from the long lane I live down there used to be a farmstead.  This typical farmstead had a couple barns, a machine shed, some grain bins, a bunch of trees, and a house that was in rough but not terrible shape.  The woman who owned the land and the farmstead had been renting it out until she passed away last year.  Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the woman’s children decided to sell the land to the highest bidder.  This of course meant that the land would be bought by the man who runs the 5,000 head cattle feedlot down the road. 

Now, instead of continuing to rent the farmstead out to someone, or even selling it (he had several offers) this man decided to take out all the trees and the buildings except for the grain bins so that he could add a couple more acres of corn.  When I go down the lane, all I see now is one sickly tree that remains as a sad reminder of the farmstead that was home to many families for many years.

This is not progress.  Unless of course you measure progress in acres of corn.  I, however, would like to see progress in the form of growing rural communities and an agriculture that is sustainable.

At this point in history you would think that humanity would have many of the issues that it faces figured out by now.  That’s why it’s so frustrating that currently we’re living through a period where so many things are actually getting worse.  (I know that’s a very pessimistic statement, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t believe it.)  When I look at the farmstead that was destroyed for a couple acres of corn, I see a few very important aspects of humanity becoming worse.

It doesn’t stop there, however.  The ever widening gap between the rich and the poor, the presence of global warming and the negative impacts it is having on the world, the unending war and violence in so many parts of the world.  Shouldn’t we have some of these things figured out by now?  A friend of mine recently told me that we do have it figured out, and it’s just that there is a constant struggle between those who work hard to make things better and those who strive only for their own personal gain. 

So even though I’m pessimistic about the current state of things, I am optimistic that those who struggle to improve the state of the world can recruit a few more to their side so that they can overcome the harm done by those who simply don’t care.  The Catholic Church is definitely a guiding force, but it has an even greater potential of becoming an even stronger promoter of peace and justice for all.  As Catholics, we may sometimes disagree between ourselves about some of the rules of the Church, but despite those disagreements, the core teaching of leading a good life and helping those who are less fortunate will always remain and bond us together so that we can work to make things better in this world.