Taking from the rich and giving to the poor; Simple, profound passion.

Mr. Williams (self-made entrepreneur) is the contributor to this month’s Knightro Report column. Like those that survived the economics of World War II, the dirty thirties, the depression and now the recession—he survived the collapse of the farm credit system during the mid-8O’s, along with thousands of other demoralized farmers across America.

Having lost his hog operation, he came out of it bigger and stronger than when he went in. He has since come to realize that his financial condition was no fault of his own, but rather the victim of a bloated government bail-out in the 70’s. Rather than putting him back on his feet, it kicked his legs right out from under him. But those same qualities that put him at the top of his game have sustained him to become the man that he once was.

 A plugger's stock is not listed on the Big Board.


 

He never accepted “I don’t know” for an answer, and pursuant to all his questions, were the qualities of character and building relationships. Like the time he brought in a load of hogs to sell to Iowa Pork Industries, he asked one of the hog buyers, “Just who is it that sets the hog market? I would like to meet him.”

They pointed up the street to my office. He said, “Can I talk to the guy?”

“I am sure you can; would you like for one of us to make an appointment for you?”

“No, I’ll make my own dam appointment, but thank-you anyway.”

On the way out he stopped at my secretary’s desk to schedule an appointment. The very next day he was in my office at 8:00 a.m., with a huge bag of fresh donuts–a move that served him well as a privileged insider of hog marketing opportunities.

Though his passion to play Robin Hood is unquestionably noble, his name calling and unmitigated references of socioeconomics may come under sharp scrutiny of the readership. If so, I will responsibly address your concerns–just as I have other debatable positions of interest that have come across my desk.

He has since moved his stock from the farm to the board of trade, and has done well enough financially to practice what he preaches.

He preaches Proverbs 29:2… "When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice, but when a wicked man rules, the people groan."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Mr. Knight,

As a follower of your column, I read, with interest, your article about the NFO winning or losing. You gave them credit for a big win, but qualified it by saying—had they really won, we would still have family farms.

Ken, here we are—another planting season upon us, and many have been sitting at the kitchen table trying to figure out the best option to make money for the year ahead—how many acres of wheat, yields, pro t/loss per acre, outguess growing conditions, should I feed some livestock, etc. Many livestock producers have endured one of the most difficult winters in their history and probably the most costly, with liquid propane skyrocketing to prices never seen before.

Many out there are sitting at the kitchen table, optimistic about the year ahead—great!

Farming is a lifestyle, not necessarily about money—yet, according to the stats in Minnesota, we are still losing more and more of the younger generation. This is a sector of our community that has been abused for years. With government wanting to keep food prices low, it has to keep the population of farmers to yet a lower percentage of our population.

I too was a farmer that farmed until I couldn’t afford to be any longer. A lifestyle I do so dearly miss. I guess it has always been about corporate America and probably always will.

Since I left farming, and I’m very sad that I had too, money has always been on my mind. Can anybody tell me where it comes from? I mean origin, how it works? My Dad said, “You work for it, it doesn’t grow on trees. What are you going to buy with it, pop bottle caps?”

He did get it through my head: You had to work for it. Period. And if you really know where it starts, it is interesting.

For me, the 90’s represented the best years. The value of the dollar was at its best! The value of the dollar today, not so hot.

BLOATED AT THE TOP

Why is that? Those in corporate America have the most cash in history, just sitting there, and yet don’t spend it. Why? ‘They’ say they need to see how the government will tax or what costs they we will be socked with. Huh?

I know farmers don’t have an excess of 16 trillion in the bank, or even another 16 trillion in pirate banks. The debt in America is over 16 trillion. That’s a lot! But for many farmers, their debt is very real too. Even with all their optimism they have to work hard every year just to get by.

In a book I recently read by President Bill Clinton titled “Back to Work”, he points out how America and it’s struggles are very complex, but with a few cuts here and there, an increase in taxes for some, all could be made right—but no one wants  the word ‘taxes’ mentioned.

If this country and our people are going to prosper and enjoy our Freedom, we have to do our moral and ethical duty. For instance, take a look at the tax rate on the wealthy, post WWII–and then compare it with the effective tax rate many pay today. Our population of millionaires and billionaires is ever increasing, while there are kids in the Minnesota school system going hungry. WOW!

There are increasing number of charities and shelters around the Twin Cities; I have visited these places and the stories are very saddening.

I know many have an opinion; probably not what I want to hear, but just sit back, imagine being a teen, your name John/Jane Doe with no family, friends, and nothing you have done has made a mark in this world. What would you do?

This reminds me of a similar instance in the movie “Trading Places”, reminding us about how others struggle for food and housing. I know many worked hard to make their money, but maybe some are just a little less fortunate or as intelligent. I get it–capitalism is alive and well in America, and thank God for that–but why does one person need to struggle to live while others are so, so incredibly well-to-do?

I know some of the well-to-do have compassion for their fellow man and contribute to many of these helpful organizations–and to them give a huge ‘Thanks”! But maybe we could cut down on the need for all these organizations in the first place if the millionaires and billionaires would share more of their money by more offering more employment opportunities, paying a little more percentage of taxes, etc. I know this works as we have other countries around the world that don’t have the economic gaps we have here; and they do just fine.

I think, at this time, financial genius Warren Buffett is the second wealthiest person in the world. Wow! I guess that is how we keep score.

The ex-chief economist, Bruce Bartlett has spoken and written books on some key ways to help our country and others to prosper.

Recently I watched the series “The Men Who Built America”  on the History Channel. What an eye-opener. Wow, again. You hear on the news about how Warren Buffett going to give his money away–nice, yes; but maybe, just maybe if all the companies in his conglomerate would pay his employees more, the velocity of hard-earned money would win out over charity?

It used to work this way in America: The family farm supported most of the ow of money through the feed mills, implement dealers, grocery stores, pharmacies, hardware stores, restaurants and many other family business, all of which have since been replaced by a few major corporations. Some were very liberal to workers, stock holders, patrons, etc. Not so now–just look at some of Warren Buffett’s holdings. What a conglomerate: BNSF, DQ, GEICO, Heinz, major stock holder in Wells Fargo, CocaCola — just to name a few.

Watching “The Men Who Built America”, I noticed a very strong similarity. Knowing that history repeats itself, why do we continue to repeat patterns that are not for the betterment of all?

Warren Buffett is a very intelligent individual and with so much financial muscle could do so much more for our great country. He owns one of the largest insurance companies in the world; he could lead the way for our insurance needs, after enjoying profits of 400% or more.

Now that our government has passed insurance reform, referred to as “Obamacare”, something Senator Ted Kennedy lobbied for many years, the insurance companies are throwing a tantrum, along with non-pro t hospitals, etc. Really?

Can we get back to the times when we would all pitch in to help a neighbor rebuild a barn after a disastrous re, put in crops for an ill-stricken neighbor, maybe help pay a bill or two for someone on hard times?

While I disagree with Mr. Buffett’s business practices and those alike, he has raised a son that participates in both corporate America, the farming world, and works with the ‘common Joe’. He has helped ordinary people around the world. He has shown people how to plant, grow, harvest, sell their products. He appears to be an awesome mentor! I would like to say, “Thanks Howie!”

I am not trying to single out these guys, but they are high profile, for which many can recognize. We have all heard the phrase, “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach him to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” Also, “Give a farmer a dollar and he’ll spend two!”

There has been so much lost and gained from the family farm. In reading your articles, Ken, on 4-H, NFO and many others to help us make money—I know you ‘get it’. Thanks for all the years of your support and help! I am not looking for any negative feedback, just for all to think back or talk to those that have done so much for mankind and go the extra step to work, live, play together, and to not have such extreme gaps on the ladder of success. I am glad we have large corporations and entrepreneurs who know how to make a lot of money.

But wouldn’t it be great if more large corporations today were as innovative Henry Ford was in the early 1900’s?

The business plan of the Whole Foods Market does not have the huge 400 times profit to average worker salary ratio. Instead it has a modest, justified income for a very sizable company. Kwik Trip, another local company in Minnesota, treats their workers especially well and shares generously in the year’s success. These are just a couple of many companies today that treat employees exceptionally well and have a very nice, family farm-like corporation. Thank you!

I strongly agree with Mr. Buffett is this fact: Americans are strong and can get through anything. But my guess is, it’s because of the morals and ethics that make up the family farm.

We all have a tough job, but take the time to help our neighbor or fellow man. We could all use a little help, no matter who you are.

And thank you too, Ken Knight–you are a pillar in what’s left of our family farm.

 


Read PONY TALES by PONTY (More insightful stories written by Ken Knight)