Friday, November 19, 2004

Welfare State, Republican-style

Daniel Gross talks about our out-of-control farm policy. Ag companies are having a banner year with lots of help from American taxpayers.

Oh, yoohoo! Rep. Hastings! Here's some spending cuts you can make. (Whoops forgot. These people are your biggest campaign contributors. Go figure.)
"The real annoyance in recent farm prosperity is that it only seems to have increased the burden of American taxpayers. Even as farm net income rose by half between 2002 and 2004, the volume of direct government payments (read: subsidies) paid to farmers rose by nearly the same amount, from $11 billion to $15.7 billion. If farmers are reaping such a green harvest, why are the rest of us subsidizing them so heavily?

The reason is that our demented farm policy has managed to get even worse recently. It's no surprise that this strangely market-distorting action has taken place in the last few years under a Republican Congress and a Republican president. Despite their self-identification as the party of entrepreneurial, competitive small business, the Bush crowd has shown itself to be a relentless advocate for non-entrepreneurial, competition-averse large businesses. Political geography also plays a role here. Many of the largest farm-goods producing states are red, and many of the largest farm-goods consuming states are blue. To a large degree, the 2002 farm bill, which is responsible for the current regime of subsidies, acts as a mechanism for transferring wealth from the people who earn lots of money in states like Connecticut and New Jersey to (mostly corporate) farmers in Kansas and Nebraska."

2 comments:

S.W. Anderson said...

There's agriculture and then there's agriculture. I'm no expert in this area, but I've got a strong hunch it's putting it mildly to say the lion's share of all good and helpful things flowing from D.C. to the red-state hinterlands end up at huge corporate agribusinesses. Think Tyson, Conagra, Kraft, etc. What farmer John and his family operation get is, at best, just enough to keep him and others like him from making waves. Crumbs off the banquet table, basically.

Kendall said...

Don't forget about Cargill and Archer-Daniels-Midland.