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The Demise of Wyoming’s Golden Goose

Jesus said to them, “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop.  He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then he said, ‘This is what I will I’ll do.  I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.  And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years.  Take life easy; eat, drink and by merry.”

But God said to him, ‘You fool.  This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself.’

This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself, but is not rich toward God.

Luke 12:15-21

The State of Wyoming produced an abundance of wealth from the minerals industry from which the revenue base is built.  Other revenue sources were largely ignored.  The minerals industry became the Golden Goose, which indeed laid many golden eggs.  Whatever the Golden Goose wanted was given, sometimes to the detriment of Wyoming’s future.

The golden eggs were good.  They were used to provide good schools for the children and for quality of life for the people.  The golden eggs were so plentiful the State of Wyoming was able to store up billions of dollars.  “We will be ready for a rainy day should it ever come,” they said.

Then the health of the Golden Goose began declining.  The State of Wyoming tried to do what it could to save the Golden Goose, but the Golden Goose turned out to be more concerned about its own top executives than the workers and the people and land of Wyoming.

State leaders looked for someone to blame, but certainly not the Golden Goose.  They blamed those who diagnosed and predicted the decline of the Golden Goose. They blamed those who sought other sources of revenue: “No new taxes!” they cried.  By a narrow vote they approved a lottery so that the people could have some fun gambling, but the State of Wyoming gained little.  Otherwise, they rejected new revenues – even hundreds of millions of dollars from the federal government if they would only expand Medicaid for health care coverage to 20,000 of its working people, something that most wanted, not just the health care providers.

Then the rains came while the Golden Goose was laying fewer and fewer eggs.  There was not enough to make ends meet.

The people asked, “What shall we do?”

“Let’s accept Medicaid expansion!” many cried.

“No!” replied the State Legislature.

“It’s raining.  Let’s use some of the rainy day funds!”

“No!” replied the State Legislature.

“Let’s diversify and expand our revenue sources!”

“No!” replied the State Legislature.

“Then let’s at least hold back on renovating the Capitol building!”

“No!” they replied.  “A ‘Taj Mahal’ in Wyoming will fool people into thinking we are still rich although community hospitals and community colleges will struggle to survive.”

The people asked, “Then what shall we do?”

The state leaders replied, “We shall cut funding for health care and the neediest; for preschools, public schools, community colleges and the University of Wyoming; for collecting child support; for prevention programs and for infrastructure for cities and towns.”  And so they did.  The future looked bleak.  A sense of doom fell over the State of Wyoming.

And God said, “You fools!”

Fear not. Be bold. Do justice.


Chesie Lee

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