While I am a New England guy, I have family by marriage that is Third Generation, South Dakotan farmers.
Bruce and Nola have become cherished souls in our lives and I remember the first time we met this side of the family very well… we would spend an unscheduled amount of time together when they visited on September 1oth 2001.
Bruce and I both being semi-techies and he, with a long career in agricultural chemicals and farm technology got on the subject of the farm business. While much of his time was spent in spreadsheets and sales management as a 3rd-generation Dutch farming family, he was still very active in managing the family business and his eyes lit up on the subject. The farm was in his DNA
Now I knew a long time ago that farming was a tough business – after all, I once spent a weekend milking 100 dairy cows for a full weekend in Vermont. True. Ha.
Brutal and Bruce smiled as I told him the story. I did too.
Aside from our shared love of the dirt, and after listening more we understood that my 37 years in marketing technologies and his decades in farm management and the national agricultural business had immersed us both in all manner of complex “process”. And I was no less flabbergasted at the breadth of farm management and the sheer scale of it. I had my own experience of how difficult things could be when you combined both the scope of work and large scale. Disaster can happen in moments
Which is why, when I heard the Michael Bloomberg comments from years ago that you could teach farming to anyone since you “just dig a hole, put a seed in, some dirt over that and up comes the corn” I was floored.
Look Bloomberg is no dummy. After all, he helped automate a very complex Wall Street process. Now, I already knew his politics were everything I personally opposed. His reputation in managing New York City, was the very epitome of socialist command and control… right down to how much soda or salt you were allowed to have at lunch.
But the thing that is so, utterly astounding (but not) was the sheer arrogance and dismissiveness of his “farmer” comment. I had not heard it up until then.
But to put a finer point on it, my career included a period of time when a colleague and I found ourselves in lower Wall Street conference rooms, pitching “Angel Investors” for seed investment.
High above and over-looking New York Harbor and The Statue of Liberty it was a new experience for me. But I am here to tell you that I heard some of the stupidest, most factually-incorrect things anyone could possibly say high above the Statue of Liberty.
And that’s when I was reminded once again, that it’s one thing to be arrogant and factually right but it’s an altogether different form of dangerous to be arrogant and painfully wrong on the facts.
Being wrong or uninformed happens to all of us. Being wrong, uninformed and arrogant is in a category of it’s own. This is the very thing that Americans in all walks of life have come to resent… and with good reason. And here it was for all to see in the person of Michael Bloomberg.
And finally, a personal post-script.
I love the art of the spoken word. Accents, inflection, turn of phrase is a “thing” with me since my days on a High School stage and my great and wonderful Drama Teacher, Fr. Gerard.
And can there be anyone as great and wonderful to listen to as Paul Harvey who narrates this wonderful piece, “So God Made A Farmer”? I don’t think so.
Paul Harvey’s brilliance was unmatched. In a minute or two, you were there, transported into another time and life… without ever opening your eyes. Enjoy Mr. Harvey as he narrates: “So, God Made a Farmer”.
I chose this newer version for context, because it gives you the Michael Bloomberg quote right at the beginning.