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Last weekend I attended the funeral of one of my uncles, Mr. Pat Strasburger. He was an icon in the Sheridan County Sandhills ranching community. He passed just a few days shy of his ninety-eighth birthday. His funeral truly was a “celebration of life.” Imagine all of the things he saw.
His father (my great uncle) homesteaded the land in the early 1900’s. I didn’t realize it, but the Homestead Act didn’t officially end until 1976. Uncle Pat grew up with kerosene lights. Horsepower on the ranch came from actual horses. Electricity didn’t arrive until after World War II. It is mind boggling to think of the many innovations and technological marvels we have seen in the last ninety-eight years. But what will the next century hold? Will there still be ranching in Nebraska a hundred years from now?
One thing is for certain, Uncle Pat never had to try and raise five children and run a family ranch for most a century with the property taxes and corrupt beef industry we have today. Four big beef packing corporations control over 80% of the beef sold in the United States. This growing monopoly results in ranchers making about $100 from a steer they have to raise from birth and care for over two years. The big packers make about $600 a head after making a few saw cuts and putting the beef in a box. They have to care for the animal less than a month.
A modest family ranch in the Sandhills will produce about 600 cow-calf pairs. The calves are your “crop” but you have to feed the momma cow too. You make about $100 on each of them for a total of about $60,000. You have to pay about $55,000 in property taxes for a ranch large enough to make this many calves. Do the math. At the rate Nebraska is going, we’re not going to be the “Beef State” for very much longer. If land in Nebraska was still available to homestead, no one would move here to start a family ranch. The latest census proves my point.
Last May we came within three votes of putting Senator Erdman’s LR11CA on the ballot. This proposal would put a question on ballot for the voters to END income taxes, sales taxes, and property taxes in Nebraska. The $10 billion in all forms of taxation collected in Nebraska every year would be replaced by a single consumption tax on all new goods and all services. Business transactions (farming and ranching) are not subject to this tax.
How can other States compete with zero? As Senator Halloran once said, “If this passed, we’d have to build a wall around Nebraska and get Colorado to pay for it.” Changing our failed tax system in Nebraska is how we re-populate our state. This idea will be the 21st century version of the Homestead Act. I strongly encourage every Nebraskan to take a look at LR11CA and encourage their senator to support it.