Why the Cowboy Code Is Not Frivolous

“A man’s got to have a code, a creed to live by, no matter his job.” — John Wayne

The other day the Montana State Senate passed SB 216 sponsored by rancher and Senate President Jim Peterson. The bill is simple and direct and it doesn’t cost the taxpayers a dime. SB 216 would adopt The Code of the West from the book “Cowboy Ethics” and make it the official Montana Code.

“Cowboy Ethics” was written by James Owen, an investment professional who after Enron and the other Wall Street scandals of a few years ago, decided it was time to take a good look at what we had become as a society and individuals. Like me he has a great deal of respect and admiration for the iconic American cowboy and the cowboy way of life.

He came up with his “Code of the West” which states some simple common sense principles that not just cowboys but all of us should try to live by.

The code includes admonitions such as “Live each day with courage,” “Be tough, but fair,” “Ride for the brand,” and “Know where to draw the line.”

Montana Governor Schweitzer has said he will veto any frivolous legislation. I guess he consider ethics “frivolous.” He wants the legislature to focus on important things like jobs and a budget shortfall. He’s right that those things are extremely important. But the ethics and values deficit in this country is just as important as the fiscal and financial deficits.– If life is just about dollars and cents then we are in bigger trouble than I thought.

Somewhere along the line we forgot these basic values and replaced them with a self-centered “grab all you can and forget the consequences” attitude and situational ethics.

via FoxNews.com – Why the Cowboy Code Is Not Frivolous.

I agree with these statements. Kudos to Montana Senate for standing up for recognizing what we lack and trying to make a move in the right direction. Maybe we do need to start from the ground up…


  1. I can understand the beauty of the code but I understand why the governor wants to veto it. Because the code itself is vague and can be interpreted in a zillion ways and if someone uses it in a lawsuit, as a defense, the court could be tied up in appeals forever until there was a determination of what it meant. Better to hold up the “code” as something to strive towards rather than law.

  2. Being from the great state of Montana, I can’t help but be immensely proud that people from my state want to uphold something that has been “unwritten” for so many years. That fact that we now have to write it, says something about our future.

    I’ve already sent my letter to the governor, who, by the way, brags about his “farm/ranch” raising, but when it’s in his face, always seems to neglect “The Code”.

    1. It is disappointing when modern politicians say one thing and do another. However, there are many that use social media and blogs to increase transparency, and I think that will help to better accountability. Hope things go through with it up there.

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