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By Staff | Apr 8, 2011

Sometime in the past year or so I told about how I am a believer in the principles of a free market with minimal government involvement.

In that same piece I told how a banker I worked with over many years, who was not as trusting of the free market as I was, asked how I, an advocate of a free market, could participate in the farm program and receive government payments.

Wasn’t I being hypocritical he asked? How does a person who believes in the free market take government payments? He does have a point.

With today’s prices, I do not see the need of government payments through the farm program. With today’s costs of putting in a crop, the level of support payments and counter cyclical payments make the concept of a farm program as a safety net meaningless.

I used to wish for $4 corn and now I need $4 corn. If there is a day when corn is less than $4, there will be a lot of adjusting being made so we can survive.

That is another side of operating in a free market, enjoying the high prices while looking over your shoulder for that day you hope never arrives.

After last week’s USDA report, the markets are really rockin’ and rollin’ and it is quite a ride we are all going on. If there is a day of reckoning coming, it does not seem to be very close and we are left wondering just how high is high.

A news event of late last week put me in a similar situation of free market versus government involvement.

The news went around town that there is a proposal to close our town’s post office and a meeting will be held in a month with postal officials on that subject.

Our little town of 200 no longer has a school. Our church shares a pastor with a neighboring church. The local elevator put in gas pumps a few months ago and we can buy fuel in town for the first time in about 10 years.

Basic needs such as groceries and banking require a drive of at least 10 miles.

No one wants to see the post office closed. With the post office closed, we are that much closer to an outpost of houses clustered together for mutual protection and not much else. It seems even the government in the form of the post office is abandoning us.

Our town is not any different than all the other small towns scattered across the country where services, whether private or public, are scarce and becoming more scarce.

The funding for these services, whether raised by selling something through retail or by collecting a tax, is being squeezed.

Many businesses have locked their doors one day and never reopened. Vacant buildings seem to outnumber occupied ones.

The postal officials are saying that they do not believe a town of 200 people can support a postmaster and the building that goes with it. We are not cost effective.

I can appreciate the idea of being cost effective. I buy used machinery rather than new because I believe it is cost effective.

Given the government’s financial climate we are under today, looking for places to save money by reducing expenses is a wise decision and everyone should be prepared to accept that they will be affected by some loss of services.

However, does that mean that because there are so few of us that we become something like second class citizens when compared to more populous areas? You can be sure our taxes will remain the same.

Shouldn’t a government for all provide services for all, which in this case is a place to send and receive our mail without driving to a neighboring town?

As a final twist to this, I have been asked to be the chairman for the meeting with the post office officials in a month. I have some ideas for the meeting I will conduct in early May.

When it is done, you know you will read about it here because I will do the writing.

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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