Ruth Young: Redistribution of wealth

In passing the beautiful scenery in the Yampa Valley and the Elk River Valley, one cannot help but notice the beautiful ranches with big Romney/Ryan signs on their property. I’ve seen no Obama/Biden signs on any ranches.

The Romney/Ryan team is against “redistribution of wealth.” In economic terms, this is called a “transfer payment,” or if it is a payment to an industry, it is called a “subsidy.” The Romney/Ryan team would cut transfer payments such as Medicare, food stamps and other programs for the poor. 

Yet many ranches also receive transfer payments. Are the ranchers against all transfer payments or just transfer payments to others? Many ranchers and farmers receive direct subsidies from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They receive price support for their crops. They pay reduced fuel taxes on their tractor fuel. Almost all ranchers receive transfer payments in the form of substantially reduced property taxes. Owners of ranchland with a market value of $10 million may pay about $1,000 to $1,500 in property taxes. Compare that to the taxes you pay on your $400,000 home. That is a transfer payment — redistribution of wealth from you to them.

Many ranchers will say ranching is hard work, and they couldn’t make a living if they had to pay property taxes on the full market value of their land and without those checks from the Department of Agriculture. That situation is not unlike the cotton farmers of the 1850s who could not raise cotton without slaves. It was uneconomical. Economists would say that if you can’t make a living (profit) with a certain set of resources, in this case land, the resources should be put to uses that are valued more highly.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Steamboat, the Yampa Valley and the Elk River Valley. I would hate to see the ranches disappear and turned into something else. But people who live in glass bunkhouses shouldn’t throw stones. The waitress (who does not own land, cattle, horses or even a house) may need transfer payments in the form of food stamps to help feed her kids, just as some ranchers might need transfer payments to keep on ranching.

Finally, these opinions are based on anecdotal evidence. They are just generalizations. I know that not all ranchers receive checks from the Department of Agriculture, and even if there is a rancher who receives no transfer payments in the form of reduced property taxes, I would hope that even that person doesn’t want to see fellow Americans die from lack of food or proper medical care.

Ruth Young

Oak Creek

Community comments

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(Brian Kotowski) Sep says...

As far as Medicare is concerned, I don't need to vote for the evil GOP, since the President is admirably gutting the program to fund Obamacare. According to the Congressional Budget Office, O's transfer of $700+ billion from Medicare to Obamacare results in a cut to spending ratio of 15 to 1. That is, for every $500 Obamacare spends on prescriptions & preventative care, it cuts the rest of Medicare by more than 7k.

Medicare's own actuary (under the authority of Obama's Dept of Health & Human Services) estimates that 15% of hospitals will be driven out of business with a decade of Obamacare's implementation; not to mention what it does to Medicare Advantage.

But I have to give Ms. Young her props: as a Romney/Ryan voter, OF COURSE I want my fellow citizens to die of starvation and sickness. I also plan on lacing my Halloween candy with anthrax while putting puppies in the blender and kittens into the microwave. Then I'll drive over to Doak Walker and beat the residents. Because that's how we Republicans roll.

Posted 10 October 2012, 7:55 a.m. Suggest removal

(Scott Ford) scottford says...

Good Morning Ruth -
You close your editorial with the statement, "Finally, these opinions are based on anecdotal evidence." At least locally I am good a moving beyond anecdotal evidence - to data/facts. Therefore, here is what we know:

In 2010 115-agriculture landowners in Routt County received payments from the US Department of Agriculture totaling in aggregate $895,129. In Routt County, the USDA payments were in the following areas:
• Conservation Subsidies $607,601 (72 recipients)
• Livestock Subsidies Commodity Subsidies $87,697 (recipients 7)
• Crop Subsidies Commodity Subsidies $181,800 ( # of recipients not disclosed)
• Disaster Payments $18,031 (4 recipients)

In the same year (2010) the USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps/SNAP)-paid out $572,000 in benefits to 173 recipients.

Although not USDA programs the total federal, dollars paid out for income assistance in 2010 in Routt County was $2,955,000. The dollars paid out were typically associated with Consists largely of general assistance; expenditures for food under the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); Other Needs Assistance; refugee assistance; foster home care and adoption assistance; Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC); Child Tax Credits; and energy assistance.

Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) expansion under title XIX of the Social Security Act totaling $9,749,000. A total of 671 recipients with about 40% of the recipients under the age of 6.

When these federal programs are viewed on a per Routt County Household basis in 2010 they cost:
USDA conservation/commodity subsidies and Disaster Payments = $88.11
USDA food stamps (SNAP) = $56.30
Income Assistance = $290.88
Medicaid/CHIP = $959.64

Sources: USDA/US Census / Bureau of Economic Analysis

Posted 10 October 2012, 8:05 a.m. Suggest removal

(Kevin Nerney) Kevin_Nerney says...

Sep, take it from one who knows--unless you want to end up on the front page don't go THREATENING all those folks. Lord knows this town can't take a joke and no one believes you are being facetious.

Posted 10 October 2012, 10:04 p.m. Suggest removal

(Howard Bashinski) bashinsk52 says...


I don't think people of either party are evil, and it really bothers me that each party often characterizes the other this way. It makes it almost impossible to engage in any type of meaningful, civil, discourse.

My view is that part of the problem with how we provide medical care now is that we have too much duplication of effort/services. I think closing some hospitals would not be a bad thing. 15% seems like a reasonable number...for a start!

Now, I know that begs the question of the jobs that will be lost. However, part of change is that...things change! What happened to all the livery and other horse-trade people who lost jobs when we moved from carriages to cars, for example? If the "horse lobby" had been more powerful, might this change have been delayed? In fact, the political power at that time was with the industrialists, and modernization was not going to be impeded! I am certain several hundred thousand of jobs ultimately were "lost," but people coped, bowing to progress.

I see the health care issue is a similar light. From at least the time of the Nixon administration - Nixon was one of the first strong advocates of national health care - our leaders have known that the system was not working well. However, the political power today lies with those who prefer the status quo, primarily the large corporations making billions in an industry that I feel should be essentially non-profit. Their political pressure and scare tactics have so far been very successful in blocking progress in this area. I don't think the Affordable Care Act is anywhere near perfect, but it is a first step in a direction we need to follow.

For me, this is a moral issue. It is wrong that everyone does not have access to health care, and wrong that the more money you have, the better care you can get. Like things such as police and fire protection - which we pool our resources to provide (socialism!) - I don't think health care should be a commodity. If it costs me a little more for everyone to have insurance coverage under all circumstances, I'm willing to pay.


PS: I love your guitar!! :)

Posted 12 October 2012, 12:58 p.m. Suggest removal

(mark hartless) markhartless says...

I'll start by saying I favor ending ALL subsidies, from farms to welfare and everything in between.

Fuel tax is for highway construction, Ruth, and the government already takes about 10 times as much as Exxon makes in proffit from each gallon of fuel.

Since farm tractors don't wear out highways (they don't use highways) they instead purchase fuel without the highway tax added in. Why should tractors pay highway tax, Ruth?
How about the concrete trucks and construction cranes, etc which DO pay the highway fuel tax on ALL their fuel but burn significant amounts of that taxed fuel while operating off of the highway? Do they get to deduct that from their taxes?

Approaching things from a position that the government is entitled to X amount of property taxes BY RIGHT and therefore anyone who pays less is ripping-off the system is clever... in a ridiculous sense.
Viewing the exact same situation from the standpoint that the government is entitled to NOTHING makes one see the tax ranchers pay in a bit different light.

Your logic about getting out of a business if you can't afford to pay your taxes is sound. That's why so many businesses are closing and their former employees are standing in unemployment lines.
And while we are on that subject, what about that waitress you mentioned that needs food stamps??? If that same logic was applied shouldn't she get out of the waitressing business if she can't afford to feed her kids without "transfer payments"??? What's the difference, Ruth???

Posted 12 October 2012, 9:54 p.m. Suggest removal

(John Weibel) jweibel says...

The problem with giving everyone the same health care for nothing is that then people have no stake in staying healthy, leading healthy lives. The real consumer of health care needs to have some skin in the game, which rarely happens. Giving everyone the same plan is great but give them all a high deductible plan and a certain amount of money, that if it goes unspent is theres to keep, to try to encourage a healthy life.

Then the next question on health care is what are the limits? Who decides when given services are too much? We live in a finite world and giving unlimited health care will not work and will only break this country faster than is already happening.

We really should be striving for a world in which people need less assistance and can afford all of their needs. The Federal Reserve moves us away from that, Subsides for agriculture move us from that, not empowering people to strive to have healthy lifestyles and keep their health care bills down moves us from that.

Unfortunately, our country has fallen far from the Iraquois roadmap of government that our founder fathers put in place.

Posted 13 October 2012, 7:13 a.m. Suggest removal

(jerry carlton) jlc says...

Howard You have brought up morality. Do you think it is moral to use abortion as a method of birth control? Since I do not think it is moral, do you think it is moral to use my federal tax dollars to promote and provide abortions?

Posted 13 October 2012, 10:41 a.m. Suggest removal

(Howard Bashinski) bashinsk52 says...


I agree with you that abortion is a moral issue. However, since this involves individuals, I feel we have no right forcing a choice on anyone. Freedom of choice is pretty basic to our republic.

If the majority of Americans don't want tax dollars used to help pay for abortions, then tax dollars shouldn't be used. In the end, we live in a democracy where the majority rules. I would certainly respect any majority decision.

Also, I think morality is a personal issue. I don't think it is right to force my morality on others. In fact, on this issue, I would argue that men have no standing in the argument at all! It is not our bodies or our morals that are involved.


PS: This is really off the original subject! :)

Posted 13 October 2012, 1:32 p.m. Suggest removal

(Scott Wedel) Scott_Wedel says...

Well, is it moral to use my taxes on fighting wars I do not approve of? Answer is yes, because government is always going to be making decisions that some do not approve of.

Men certainly have moral standing on the issue of abortion. Just as whites have standing on the morality of civil rights. Morality is about the thoughtfulness of the reasoning, not the person whom says it. So the problem with the Missouri Senate candidate's statement on abortion was not that as a man he shouldn't have one, but the utter stupidity of his claim there is legitimate rapes and illegitimate rapes. That some women were found that supported that opinion does not mean it is a moral position.

Posted 13 October 2012, 2:08 p.m. Suggest removal

(Scott Wedel) Scott_Wedel says...

As for the comment that started that digression into morality, the facts simply do not support the argument that people will be unhealthy unless they have to pay their own health care costs. Any number of countries with universal health care have citizens in better health than US citizens.

People in the US do not become obese because others pay their healthcare costs or then decide to lose weight if they have to pay.

Being healthy is not a decision based upon expected medical costs. Being healthy has so many lifestyle and enjoyment advantages over being unhealthy. It does not cost far more to become healthy and, for many, it is enjoyable.

Posted 13 October 2012, 2:34 p.m. Suggest removal

(John Weibel) jweibel says...

Scott, the point was that if consumers have a vested interest in health care then maybe the results will be different. If people were given a reward for a healthy life then maybe more would do so. Incentivize being healthy as opposed to just covering their health care universally. Other countries also have shorter work years and a myriad of other factors at play.

In addition today the government gives us stripped mined food that is devoid of nutritional benefit, thanks to government intervention, needless to say the BT pesticide that is in 90% of people in this country - thanks to GMO corn. Much of this probably leads to more unhealthy individuals as the cheapest calories to ingest are the worst possible. Though that is government at work ensuring that the corn lobby stays healthy - not the consumers of the corn.

The government also pushes for the addition of fluoride in water, even though most get enough through other sources. Fluoride slows thyroid function which can lead to weight gain. There are so many factors at play at we tend to focus on one factor, ie saturated fat is bad, yet research is proving this wrong. In addition once a substance passes a point a substance is so hard it becomes brittle - which is what the draft study on fluoride showed in 2003 ish. Yet we plod down that course as it is what we have always done even though it is being shown to be wrong.

Posted 13 October 2012, 3:15 p.m. Suggest removal

(John Weibel) jweibel says...

Studies do not look at all the facts, Time off, food options/given pricing because of subsidies, and on and on.

Give me tens of millions of dollars and a laboratory and I bet I can prove whatever you want.

Posted 13 October 2012, 5:38 p.m. Suggest removal

(Scott Wedel) Scott_Wedel says...

Point is that people have a vested interest in their health regardless of whether they are paying for healthcare. The reward for being healthy is immediately feeling better. The punishment of being unhealthy of eventually paying higher health care costs is too distant to affect behavior now.

Programs that encourage social exercise with coworkers and neighbors do work. It is easy to forget that for many people that social rewards are important as well.

Posted 13 October 2012, 7:28 p.m. Suggest removal

(John Weibel) jweibel says...

Guess we have to agree to disagree.

You have not personally experienced a HSA and a medical need and shopping price, quality of work and other issues while in severe pain a 9 of 10 on my scale (ten and I would need to be put down as I could not move) and as I have a broken spine I am in pain many days and quit sitting behind a desk because it causes most.

The costs of elective surgeries seem to come down while other medicals charges just go up.

If one only ever has to pay a set fee for a medication where is the encouragement to shop around for said drug, which would tend to put downward pressure on prices.

Posted 16 October 2012, 12:21 a.m. Suggest removal

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