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September 18, 2012 / jimnv

Funny Thing About Welfare

One day in the early 1980s I was out conducting dairy inspections in Douglas County. I was finishing an inspection of a one dairy when the owner ran over to me and accused me of being on welfare because I was a state employee. He called me a “sum-bitch” for being on the public dole and yelled that I should get a “real job”. He said all government employees were on the public dole.

Well, as a state employee you had to keep your mouth shut even when being called names. The governor at that time, said state employees were expendable so saying anything was out of the question. He would have undoubtedly called the governor and as one Republican to another they would decide I needed discipline for being impertinent.

Seriously, every time I inspected his dairy, the owner would verbally attack me and call me names, sometimes adding “f king sum-bitch” to his tirade. He had a heart attack a couple of months previously and I thought this was his way of releasing stress and I was part of his therapy. So, I put up a lot from him for about a year.

But a state employee can take just so much. One day after completing my inspection, the owner started in on me as usual… but I stopped him and said forcefully, ” Welfare? I’m not on welfare..you are! I know for a fact that every month you get a check from the federal government for producing milk and another one for NOT producing milk. Now that’s welfare! Besides, I do have a real job because I have to deal with people like you!”

Well, he stopped, stared at me for a moment and walked away because what I said was true. Dairies at the time were getting monthly government checks to produce milk and to not produce milk. It was a Reagan era program designed to stabilize milk production and prices. It didn’t work.  Note: I did not get into trouble for speaking out and he stopped attacking me.

That dairyman thought he was an “independent” businessman and an example how to “do it right”. He felt righteous in calling me names, since I was just another government employee. He was a Republican and I knew that because he told me so many times, so I was not surprised he wanted government out of his business, including health inspectors like me. But at the same time, he didn’t see anything wrong with cashing two government checks each month. He felt he was entitled to that money. I guess everyone has a personal definition of welfare.

That dairyman worked hard all of his life because it’s not easy running a dairy. Being a state employee isn’t easy either. The wages are low and being scapegoated when something goes wrong is stressful and just wrong. State employees are not on welfare because they work for the State of Nevada. They get a bi-weekly pay check and earn every cent of it.

NOTE: Dairy subsidies still keep many small and inefficient dairies in business. The subsidies continue to this day but that might end if the Farm Bill passes. This year, Congress wants to replace dairy farmer subsidies with a voluntary insurance plan designed to maintain a dairyman’s profit margins when the price of milk is too low. Of course, dairyman are against this. Check out this article about this.

 Reference: Nevada’s Diary regulations.

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