Roger Huckfeldt: Wyoming’s Bureaucratic High Fences Are Destroying Our State

Guest columnist Roger Huckfeldt writes: "I can only imagine the debate in the the House and Senate for the need to license barbers. 'Look at the Governor's haircut, if we had licensed these barbers he wouldn't look like he just lost a bet and got sheered by a drunk sheepherder.'"

Roger Huckfeldt

February 12, 20235 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Wyoming is known as “The Cowboy State.” Its western heritage is chalked full of people who took a wild, inhospitable place and through long hours, pain and sweat, created a lifestyle envied by many.

When people heard of its beauty, and opportunities, the cattle barons found a need to lay claim to the wide-open spaces. Fences were built, and boundaries made and held onto sometimes by force and hired guns.

Wyoming is a fence-out state. Which for those who don’t know; means you have to fence-out others if you don’t want them on your turf. Wyoming has built some really high fences. 

I’m not going to sit on the top rail of this fence and pontificate the reasons why the fences were originally constructed. But I do want you to ponder the relationship building fences has with government today.

If you think about it, government fences make the fences those cattle barons built, look pretty puny.

Powerful people convinced politicians through donations and their “hired guns”, (the politically correct term is lobbyist) to pass laws, rules and regulations to keep others out of the turf they’ve claimed.

The folks behind these hired guns want their turf protected by any and all means.

If you take the time, you can come up with all sorts of people who sit safely behind these fences. A lot of them came in to place because of poor actors, con-men and charlatans. All sold to the legislature as a need to protect the public.

I can only imagine the debate in the committee rooms and floors of the House and Senate for the need to license barbers. “Look at the Governor’s haircut, if we had licensed these barbers he wouldn’t look like he just lost a bet and got sheered by a drunk sheepherder.”

I guess at times we need protection from drunk sheepherders.

But recently I had an experience that makes me believe these fences are way too high.

Before Christmas one of my family members suffered a pretty serious medical condition. He went into the local hospital and for the most part received great care from the staff. But even with the license requirements, they still had a few who I’d never want to care for any of my family again.

The care he received was hampered by the way many hospitals now conduct business. If you haven’t heard the term “hospitalist,”  it’s a new thing.

Hospitals now have full-time physicians who are in charge of your care. No longer do you have your family physician who knows all those things about you that never makes it into your medical records. Instead, you have a person with a license who decides your care. This modern fence restricts the continuity of care. 

While in the two different hospitals, he had no less than five hospitalists. The only thing each knew about him, was in his chart. Lots of things weren’t put into the chart or passed on to the next “Doc in the box”.

No individual was charged with ensuring he received the care he needed. We all felt like he was being treated as just another critter in the sick pen, waiting on someone to take notice. With the exception of a few individual nurses and the specialist in Colorado, the care was like a sheepherder’s haircut, sometimes good, others not so much. 

But this story has another chapter, beyond the lack of continuity of care. Other fences prevented us even getting him to the hospital in Colorado. 

Who’d have thought with six communities having ambulances and at least 8 ambulances in our county, we couldn’t get him transferred out of here. We were forced and resorted to using an ambulance from another county.

You see for whatever reason, these rural community ambulances are able to gather you up and get you to our hospital but they can’t, don’t or won’t take you out of here. 

I’m told it’s because the one ambulance service who can, doesn’t have enough people to staff its service.

Apparently, the powers that be have built the fence so high, that those who once volunteered have left because the ongoing training has become so great.

Several people have told me the same thing is happening with our rural firefighters. They too struggle to find volunteers to maintain the training that’s being required of them. I was told by the local hospitalist it’s “the new post COVID normal.”

I’ve always found it difficult to accept poor service as normal, especially from those who receive taxpayer subsidies.

This past summer when a canal ruptured and floodwaters were headed into town. It was the neighbors and volunteers who were first on the scene. They didn’t wait until big government came to protect them, they did it. And if you were there, you’d agree they probably did a better job than big government would have. 

The whole point of my rant is to point out to the people who built these modern fences, and ask, at what height does the fence have to be before the fences causes the harm? If there are no providers left to provide the services who do we need protection from? 

We should demand government find a solution to this post-COVID crap. We, as taxpayers, deserve better. Fix the fences or tear them down.

Huckfeldt is a former member of the Wyoming House of Representatives.

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Roger Huckfeldt