by Linda Brady Traynham
Asking what I think about Texas Independence is roughly like asking a mother how much she loves her tiny daughter or how much she treasures her wise, gracious old grandmother. I’ve always thought of myself as a Texan far more than I have as “a citizen of those United States of America.” (sic) We have our own distinctive culture, at least outside of the pus pockets known as Houston, El Paso, D/FW and San Antonio, and there would be redeeming social value in them if the liberals went away. We like our peculiar ways, and we don’t want to be diversified in any other way than stating that we get along beautifully with those of Mexican descent who have been here for a couple of hundred years. We don’t object to illegal “immigrants” because their skins are brown but because we believe in law and order. We think a country functions better when the few laws are enforced firmly, and invading our country is definitely against the law. Pull up your red and blue map and you can see how the undeclared war goes: the Left holds the big cities and Mexico has invaded deeply across our southern border. The rest of our country is deep, rich red. We’re hospitable, but we believe people should work for a living and be honest and polite. We’ll give most anybody a hand up, but we don’t believe in handouts extorted from us on threats of fines and incarcerations.
I’ve been working towards tossing the Yankees over on their side of the border for years and will continue to do so until I die–and the good news is that we’re a lot closer than you think. Governor Good Hair (as he is know with some semblance of affection when he refuses DC money and threatens to put troops on the border) has only to implement a court order for the Legislature to call for a public vote on whether or not we wish to remain Texans or join those United States, and then we have the vote, after a very serious campaign explaining what’s at stake and the issues. Start putting a little money by to donate, please, because we know the sort of Left-Wing funds and fake voters will descend on us just like they have in Wisconsin. No, I’m not asking for a handout when the time comes, because those of you reading this know you have a very big dog in this fight; if just one state secedes successfully at least half a dozen will. If you can’t get yours to, you can at least move to a place with more potential for freedom. The third fight will be to keep the first Legislature from packing the seats with Liberals who will promptly vote to adopt all current rules and regulations, thereby defeating the purpose of going back to our 1836 Constitution and starting over very, very cautiously. I won’t go into why Texas is NOT a state–and has never been–here, but I will remind you that we have a Federal Court Order and Cease Fire, as well as a treaty with the Feds. Nations deal with one another by treaty, and that Court Order commands the Feds “to cease and desist hostilities against the lands and people” of our sovereign nation. The Feds weren’t laughing, but they haven’t complied, either. We have been an occupied nation all of my life, and all the way back until six months after the Confederacy ceased fighting but we didn’t. One of my forebears rode with Hood’s Brigade, whose last Headquarters is in the town nearest to where I live. There were others.
At present I am involved with three fights with those who hold my country:
1. We needed to replace a collapsed drain line from a septic tank, a simple, if laborious, process, at a small trailer park that just sort of happened over the years. Since I live on a small ranch, we are allowed to do this…so long as we literally do the work ourselves. If anyone other than we or permanent hired hands turns so much as a shovel of dirt, then the bureaucrats claim the right to disavow our grandfathering and demand that we have put in a $10,000 aerobic septic system which requires an $800 permit, two $400 inspections a year in perpetuity, and an official “planner” to oversee the process–and is more fragile and less efficient than those sixty years old. No outsiders, no “professionals,” no temporary labor. Fortunately, I have a Foreman and two hands, so we did it ourselves, and then replaced our drain field at the house while we were at it. It strikes me as a little ludicrous to say that a seventy-year-old lady with absolutely no experience can attempt to dig ditches, but she can’t hire an expert or casual labor.
2. The EPA demanded that we empty the dump which has been functioning quite well to prevent erosion since 1843 has to be cleaned up down to dirt clean enough to eat–and I’m quite certain that when I get them off our necks the Agriculture Department will demand that we do something (with numerous rules and regulations) to prevent further erosion, something I do automatically without their prodding. This came in the dead of winter with short deadlines and the threat that if it weren’t completed in time THEY would come do it and charge me some sum that would doubtless boggle the mind. So the hands have been out there in freezing drizzle hauling away 12 trailer loads of metal. Metal, as everyone knows, is not found naturally in soil? That was the deadline for the first month, which we met. We now need to scrape what is in the bottom of the gully/ravine into neat piles so that we can use our small backhoe to lift it to upper ground level, then use the bucket loader to transfer it to trailers we will haul to the dump–at over 40 miles a trip.
All of this fuss is over an area that can be seen only when in our woods and hasn’t harmed man nor beast in over 150 years. It is playing hob with man hours needed for far more urgent (to me) purposes, but they insist that not so much as a plastic sack or empty tin can may remain. Did those people never hear of ex post facto laws? The dump was perfectly legal and the custom when it was begun and until very recently. Okay, Lady, your choice, sue us, clean it up, or we will. The EPA says I am entitled to dump 2500 pounds/year/resident…but the restrictions are so onerous that they get down basically to kitchen waste which we feed to hogs. Again, I ask: nobody respects the sacred soil of Texas more than I do (part of why I don’t want it to wash away), but what sensible government demands that septuagenarians on pensions undertake such tasks? They were a big help: they handed me many pages of citations to tell my lawyer where to look up the rules and regulations! At $250/hour. The local deputy kindly scribbled, “No metal, no tires, no plastic, no asbestos” on the form demanding that I “abate the nuisance.” To whom is it a nuisance? The deer, cougars, snakes, and wild hogs in the woods? May I fell trees to build a sort of natural beaver dam? Of course not; at least not without a full environmental study which will take at least two years and isn’t free. I can hand sprig Coastal Bermuda (weeks of work, and expensive) or if I do it very quietly perhaps we can use the bulldozer to form a new “stock pond,” although I am certain there is some proscription against that, too, having to do with watersheds and ground water and more environmental impact studies. The environmental impact, gentleman, is that the gully won’t renew washing away the land as it did in 1842. The lake we dammed in 1949, and the one we built about ’60 without a dam permit have prevented erosion and harbored wildlife, including lots of fish and the geese and ducks which migrate over us.
3. The IRS went berserk and claimed I owe them $300,000. Gentlemen, I have not been employed since 1990 (as an Editor), my income is Social Security and a minuscule Army pension of $200/mo which hasn’t been paid in 18 months, because they insist I sign the same form every month and decline to send the money to a bank I can use. So I hired an expensive expert (some $7,000) and awaited results. A couple of weeks ago I got a new set of claims for $150,000 this time. What?! I call up the so-called experts, who say nothing has been done (they might at least have told me that, since the original deadline was a month later) and I haven’t paid them. WHAT? Of course I did! The IRS scares me far more than Al Quaida. I can shoot men in turbans menacing me with AK-47s shouting “Allahu Ahkbar!” I look in my checkbook, and there’s a debit for $6950 from an on-line transfer…but my friend, Kenny, the manager of my small bank, says it was never paid, although I haven’t gotten to my haphazard records keeping to check totals. I find a new expert, and pay (with a check, in her office) to have five years’ worth of taxes redone at vast expense. She says the good news is that the more they demand, the more likely they are to deal, and the better news is that these are computer-generated demands claiming I didn’t file returns at all. Is everyone insane? Of course I did, but all my records were destroyed in a small flood and two small tornadoes. No matter, dear, the government knows more about your finances than you do. Which I believe. As my dear Daddy always said, “You can’t afford to run cattle unless you have a private income.” I don’t even claim deductible expenses because then the clock would start on having to make a profit lest what I do be declared a “hobby.” Some “hobby” that keeps three men employed.
So I’m busy reflecting that they cannot seize my house because it is covered under the Texas Homestead Act, along with the “tools of my trade” and a car. Do you suppose they will agree that cattle and tractors and backhoes are the tools of the trade of being a rancher? I can’t ranch without cows, and I can’t keep the government’s boot off my throat without machinery to move dirt around. The best news is that they can only penalize me on my income for ten years, starting from the time of the controversy, now five years old, although nobody told me until last November. They are obliged to leave me enough to eat on and pay the power bill. How I’m supposed to pay vet bills and feed bills which I liken to the military budgets of invaders of the Balkans?
There is an old saying: “Once is chance. Twice is circumstance. Three times is enemy action.” I absolve the Feds of shoving a large rattlesnake up to the nose of the two-day-old calf we lost today, although the marks and swelling indicate that’s what happened when he poked his cute little black nose in a dangerous place. I don’t suppose they air-lifted in the cougar who damaged our favorite dairy goat this week. I resent very much that their rules keep me from selling perfectly wholesome milk we drink ourselves and feed our animals because I don’t have a dairy license…which would cost at least a couple of hundred thousand dollars by the time I built three buildings and acquired assorted more machinery. I know good and well this isn’t a “health” issue, but a matter of protecting big dairies who hire lobbyists and end up writing the restrictions so that no small farmer/rancher can possibly comply. They do, kindly, allow me to sell 30 doz eggs a week and cheese which has been aged more than 90 days which I haven’t learned how to make yet. I can sell “pet milk” (dogs adore goats’ milk) if and only if I dye it blue (no problem) and put it in a brand new container with a seal which would cost more than I could sell the milk for, to say nothing of our time.
I don’t blame them for the bill for the horses, photos of which I hope Russell can post.
I blame Bonnie Blue Flag for twitching her elegant rump outside Poco Bar Knight’s stall until he was literally in a lather because she smelled so good. By sheer chance, my daughter was taking photos when the big Palomino stallion knocked out the end of his stall and the side of the barn. She promptly kicked “Beau,” as he’s known around the place, when he caught her, necessitating stitches, and nobody scrambled fast enough to get the tin up off the ground and Irish Brook tore open her satiny skin in a triangular tear that required three packs of sutures to repair. I could be wrong, of course. It is entirely possible that those people know enough about the rear ends of horses to slip Bonnie Blue a chemical that would bring on estrus and cause a riot.
Like my land, it requires constant effort to keep our freedoms from eroding and we haven’t been doing our job for far too many years. We have stood by, complacent, angry, and/or bewildered on the road to “Citizen show me your papers!” and “Everything not forbidden is mandatory.” The Legislation passed (unread) this century alone contains everything Hitler used to deliver “hope and change” to Deutschland.
I look at my beloved land and reflect that it isn’t really mine. I am allowed to rent it from a capricious tax collector who raises levies every year. “Mine” means that the land, livestock, house, and barns do not belong jointly to me and some bank. A Canadian reader reminded me recently that when the government found it couldn’t outlaw so-called “cop killer” bullets it blandly passed a $25,000/box tax on Black Talons. That certainly stopped sales. One of the things we in Texas and the South learned the very hard way is that there is no limit to how high a rapacious government can raise taxes, nor is there any limit to the abusive, unconstitutional (the Feds or ours) limits on our labors and our right to profit from them. Tell me again the funny stipulation about the right to the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness, or the part about no onerous fines.
This isn’t the article I set out to write, but I hope you enjoyed it and pay attention to the officious acts of government in your life. Be prepared; it will only get worse. It could be that I’m having so much trouble because I am an unwitting scoff-law, but it just might be something I said. “Domestic terrorist” is such a useful term, since it means whatever Janet Napolitano and the Alphabet Soup guys say it does. Janet, I’m only a terror at the keyboard; other than that I’m as sweet a little old lady as exists. If you people will go away and leave me alone, I’ll stay here and leave you alone.
Linda Brady Traynham writes for The Texas Ring, and is a favorite contributor to DumpDC.