Walt Bones can't write:
It seems that our Holiday Season has been commandeered by the “Fiscal Cliff” discussions in Washington, DC. I’m not sure who “Cliff” is but judging by the rhetoric I hear, they must be referencing Cliff Clavin the infamous know-it-all from the “Cheers” program. He always had this penchant for coming up with some of the most obscure facts at the most (in)opportune moment. He may have not been fast enough on the buzzer for the “Jeopardy” show, but he surely was armed with a plethora of facts, figures, and numbers [Walt Bones, "Cheers," State of South Dakota press release, 2012.12.13].
Thus reads the first meandering, useless paragraph of five semi-random observations from our Secretary of Agriculture. I can't tell if he's trying to dismiss the fiscal cliff as an annoying sideshow or setting up an extended metaphor, but it doesn't matter, because he doesn't mention either cliff in any of his subsequent paragraphs to tie his thoughts together.
Secretary Bones suggests that the federal government can solve its problems by acting like South Dakota:
I think the discussion is really simple and the answer is one that our State and our farmers and ranchers have figured out a long time ago . . . . you can’t spend more than you earn [Bones, 2012.12.13].
This contention is hilarious, of course, since South Dakota spends 84% more than it earns in its state budget in the form of handouts from Uncle Sam. It also contradicts the philosophy of Bones and his boss Governor Daugaard who support handing millions of dollars to big dairies and other corporations just for doing the work that the free market will sufficiently reward on its own.
Secretary Bones then jumps to thanking the House and Senate Ag Committees... who still haven't passed a Farm Bill. Bones seems to think that federal support for agriculture is somehow deficit-neutral and has already done its share for fiscal responsibility. I would counter that ag programs won't have done their share to reduce the deficit until they retroactively declare the Noem family's three-million-plus in farm subsidies to be loans and demand repayment.
Bones then calls agriculture a rock (not a cliff), declares himself an eternal being, and wishes us all a blessed holiday, which I take as an expression and advocation of his religious faith on my dime. Grrr.
I don't mind public officials who disagree with me. But Bones's holiday column is an exercise in the Noem school of wasted ink.