President’s Message

Government, For The People or For The Government?

President George Hollister

We have a government that is of the government, by the government, and for the government.  This is not what Abraham Lincoln had in mind, and likely not what he could have even imagined.  Two actions recently from our county government are the latest examples of government for the government.  

One was the proposed purchase of a large piece of rangeland North of Ukiah using a secret process that appears to be in violation of state law, California Government Code Section 54956.8 (2016) (public.law). County staff has  driven these kinds of real-estate purchases recently, with impunity.  Why?  Because there is government money to spend, and money to be made for government.  Input from the public, including Farm Bureau members, is unwelcomed.  

A second recent government action was our county’s proposed plan for spending $22 million of PG&E settlement money for fire costs associated with the fire that burned in Potter Valley, and Redwood Valley in 2017.  In the  county’s drafted spending proposal, little went to uninsured losses in the Potter Valley, and Redwood Valley fire area.  Most went to fund unrelated county government programs.  Fortunately, two supervisors objected to the draft proposal, and were able to begin an open public process to properly expend those funds.  Farm Bureau is also actively involved in identifying where this money should be properly spent.

While these two recent incidents stand out, they are not unique, and reflect a government mindset that transcends federal, state, and local governments.  That mindset is all about government and associates profiting, and insulating government actions from the general public.  The stated government mission is obscured.  We see government response to emergencies with purpose, and relative transparency.  The Covid-19 pandemic, wildfires, law enforcement are good examples of that. 

But we have government paying indigent substance abusers, and the mentally ill to live on our streets,  and selling a false narrative of why. How come?  Because there is money to be made by our local government by doing what they do.  It is all about “bringing in outside money”.  “Outside money” is federal and state government money in case you didn’t know, not private business investment. We have a county and state government that only sees human enterprise through the lens of  how much tax money can be collected.  A recent good example is state cannabis legalization.  Our county focuses  on how much tax money can be collected from cannabis, and not on implementing a workable, and properly funded plan.  We see the result.  We have regulatory agencies who are handed the power to impose themselves with no standards of science  required, and little or no oversight.  I could go on.  

Here at Farm Bureau we appreciate the need for government.  We appreciate the timeless public need for properly run schools, maintained public transportation systems, public safety, public health, and a hand up for the vulnerable.  None of these government duties should be run as engines for government profit as the primary motivator.  And all of these duties need to be transparent, legal, and accountable to the voting public.  

What Lincoln said at the end of his Gettysburg Address was, “-that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”  My only comment is, perish it will, if we continue doing what we are doing.