June 2, 2009 - Weaning Day

We have a commercial goat ranch operation and have about 100 does (mama goats) kidding (giving birth) each year in March/April. When a doe abandons one of her kids, we end up bottle feeding it 3 to 4 times a day for about two months. We had nine bottle kids this season, with all the scheduling and mess that goes with the process. Our bottle kids were weaned last week, and in a way I’ll kind of miss the bottle routine. The kids push against your knees, looking for the bottle, and always seem to want more. There is something satisfying about having a young animal eagerly seek you out and greedily enjoy the sustenance you provide. .

It’s always hard to decide exactly when they are ready to stop the bottle. The last three had been out of the pen off and on, doing a pretty good job of sampling the alternatives (as the bedraggled state of my raspberry bushes can attest!). As their foraging improved, they were less pushy at bottle time, interested but not desperate. We found a buyer for the trio, and they wanted them weaned, so that decided it. We mixed one last batch of milk replacer and they got get weaned when the milk ran out.

No doubt the kids will still feel entitled to a bottle for a few more weeks, and they’ll keep nuzzling around for a handout, but over time they’ll move on. It’s for their own good. We can’t afford to feed them forever and it wouldn’t be healthy for them. They need their independence.

How does this parable relate to politics? Just like the kids needed us as a safety net to survive a bad start, we often ask government to intervene in our lives for all sorts of reasons. The problem is that rarely is there ever a weaning day. Instead we have generations depending on the existence of some subsidy, program, incentive or other type of support. The entitlement mentality is a lot harder to address at a government level than in the barnyard. No politician ever got re-elected on a platform of weaning us all off the government bottle, and it’s much more satisfying to hand out the milk.

Republicans from Conservative to Mainstream and everything in between will tell you that we believe in the following (from a Reagan era Republican National Committee creed):

I believe the proper role of government is to provide the people only those
critical functions that cannot be performed by individuals or private
organizations and that the best government is that which governs least.

Republicans need to be honest in assessing how well we have lived up to this creed. Independent voters often point out how both parties have contributed to the growth of government and the creeping sense of entitlement. Hypocrisy leads to political apathy and disdain for the entire system. One clear way for Republicans to differentiate ourselves is to start living up to our beliefs. We need leaders who will ask tough questions about the Constitutional basis for specific programs and proposals. We need leaders who will not be swayed by the nuzzling of special interest groups and powerful individuals. We need citizens to step up and admit that every one of us has some little bit of government support that we’d hate to give up, but we might just have to when the milk runs out. Given the rate of deficit spending, the milk is going to run out sooner rather than later.

Let’s reposition the Republican Party, not in a new direction, but back to basics. In that spirit, here is the entire Republican creed:


I believe the strength of our nation lies with the individual and that each person’s dignity, freedom, ability and responsibility must be honored.

I believe in equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity for all, regardless of race, creed sex, age or disability.

I believe free enterprise and encouraging individual initiative have brought this nation opportunity, economic growth and prosperity.

I believe the proper role of government is to provide the people only those critical functions that cannot be performed by individuals or private organizations and that the best government is that which governs least.

I believe the most effective, responsible and responsive government is government closest to the people.

I believe Americans must retain the principles that have made us strong while developing new and innovative ideas to meet the challenges of changing times.

I believe Americans value and should preserve our national strength and pride while working to extend peace, freedom and human rights throughout the world.

Finally, I believe the Republican Party is the best vehicle for translating these ideas into positive and successful principles of government."

The Republican Party grew out of the abolitionist movement, a party founded on ideals and believing that positive change from the status quo is possible. If we can break the stranglehold of 19th century slavery, we can break the stranglehold of 21st century slavery in the form of burdensome regulations and intrusive government.