I don’t know my congressman personally, but I did once have a connection with his family, if ever so briefly, and it was positive (well in the end). But it had nothing to do with politics. I did not vote for him and never could, but I owe perhaps his father a debt of gratitude from way back.
He, that is my congressman, voted against re-starting the government and preventing default on its debts.
My congressman is Doug LaMalfa. He was only perhaps 4 or 5 or even younger when I had a chance encounter with his family in front of the headquarters of their farming operation where they grow one heck of a lot of rice. I’ll get into that shortly.
Congressman LaMalfa identifies with the Tea Party. They hate government. They think it taxes too much and meddles in the affairs of people.
Strangely, however, that does not stop the LaMalfa farming operation from accepting millions of dollars of federal taxpayer-funded rice subsidies over the years. So I guess it is okay if that nasty federal government is paying them, just not someone else. Now I know that they probably think they deserve it and others do not. And I know they would probably point out that their rice farming, along with that of others in the area, brings a lot into the local (and state and national) economy. And I could hardly argue with the latter. I have worked as a truck driver for almost the last two decades now and early on in my truck driving career I hauled a load of rice from near their ranch (could have been theirs or partly theirs) from California to Connecticut. Also, an acquaintance of mine has done a lot of local-area agricultural hauling and has pulled one heck of a lot of loads of fertilizer for the rice fields. And I usually don’t admit this (I mean I have a right against self-incrimination), but for a very short time I sold insurance door to door. The few policies I ever sold were primarily to rice farmers. And this past season as I drove my big rig up and down the highway I watched the whole process from last spring when tractor drivers worked the ground, to when pilots aerial-seeded the gigantic fields and applied fertilizer by air as well. I saw the green rice shoots peep up above the water in the flooded fields (many via subsidized federal irrigation) and I see the rice trucks hauling the finished product. Ironically a lot of it goes overseas to areas that were once self-sufficient in rice (but that is another story). And I know that the farm towns I drive through in the rice country are heavily dependent upon the income the rice industry brings in, even though everyone does not work directly in the farming business. So what I am trying to say is I get it. There is an argument to be made for those subsidies (there is also one to be made against). I just find it terribly contradictory and two-faced that Congressman LaMalfa rails against the government but takes money in the way of a federal salary and rice subsidies for his family’s farming operation. It’s like federal government stay out of my life but keep those checks coming. And some of that money comes from taxpayers who have nothing to do with rice farming and may not even eat rice.
Oh, the connection with the LaMalfas:
When I took my first relatively long solo trip driving a vehicle I was maybe 16 years old. I left our home south of Red Bluff, Ca. and headed for Yuba City, Ca. I was driving a 1949 Willy’s jeep my folks bought after the war when regular automobiles were not as available yet. On a two-lane stretch of Highway 99 out in the middle of rice country the jeep overheated, clouds of steam coming out from under the hood on both sides, and conked out, as luck (and it was luck) would have it, right in front of the LaMalfa Ranch headquarters. I walked up the driveway past a couple of houses to a large shop building. I asked one of the maybe two or three men inside if I could borrow a pail and get some water because my jeep overheated. I think they were working on some farm equipment. They paid me no mind as I walked back to the jeep. I proceeded to pour water into the radiator. I then tried to start the jeep. The engine would try to start but would only make a terrible coughing sound.
I walked back and told them of my plight.
I’m paraphrasing but it was something like this:
“Son, you didn’t pour cold water into the hot radiator did you? You should have let it cool down first.”
They towed the jeep into their shop, and before my eyes they dismantled the engine and showed me the large cracks on the piston heads.
I dolefully said that I would have to call my dad. They had a phone right there in the shop (for you younger readers, these were the dark ages before cell phones).
One of the men, and it may have been Congressman La Malfa’s dad for all I know, said: “You know that’s a pretty good looking jeep. We wouldn’t mind having it around here. You can ask your dad if he wants to sell it to me.”
When I contacted my dad I handed the phone to the man. The man told my dad we could either leave the jeep with them until we could get it towed or he would be more than happy to buy it. My dad opted to sell it.
The LaMalfas, multi-millionaires, likely know a good deal when they see it. But I think they paid a fair price.
I drive by there often these days in a big truck. If I ever have an overheated engine there, at least I’ll know not to pour cold water into the radiator until it cools down (and they might not be in the market for a big truck).
And I have to ask this congressman: If the government stayed shut down and the U.S. defaulted on what it owes to foreign creditors, might the ports where the rice is shipped be shut down as well and who would buy our rice?