Knight Of The Mind

I'll do my best to present a philosophical and generally conservative look at current events and life, the universe and everything. Readers are invited to take all that's posted herein with a grain of salt. or if they prefer, a grain of salt, a slice of lime and a shot of tequila.

Location: Alexandria, Virginia, United States

Greetings and welcome. My name is Steve, I'm 35 years old and I work for the US Army as an Operations Research Analyst. Hence my blog title Knight Of The Mind.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

FarmAid or Farmacide?

Imagine government activism during the 11th Century in Europe. This would involve the Sheriff of Nottingham riding out with his men and trying to hang Robin Hood so that he could steal from the poor and give to his drinking buddies, the rich. The truly conservative believe that the essential nature of government activism hasn't changed a whole lot since back when things were rotten and Mel Brooks would have been pincushioned with arrows for having any part of Robin Hood: Men In Tights.

No segment of America's overbloated and sometimes highly uncivil government service gives the conservative view of government activism more credence than the fiasco-laden list of agriculture welfare programs. These programs operate on a premise of human nature that you would have to leaf through Das Kapital to properly appreciate and understand. They stem from the belief that a government agency can intervene in a market and fix a price without obscuring essential information that consumers require to know how much of that product they want to purchase, or how much they should be paying.

There are three predictable results of this sort of Old Deal stupidity and each is nearly as depressing as the economic conditions that spawned these government waste and fraud engines.

1) The levels of production get distorted away from what people really want. People produce to suck at the teat of taxpayer funded largesse, not to actually feed the hungry. The top recipients of this welfare program all probably dress in Brooks Brothers and could afford to have their hair cuiffed by Christophe rather than cut by Bubba. Sixty percent of the swag goes to the richest ten percent of American farmers.

"The subsidies reward the guy who gets higher yields with higher subsidies, and he's able to buy out his neighbor and get even bigger," says Dennis Avery, an agriculture expert at the Hudson Institute.

2) Renumeration for the effected activity in no way relates to how honest or effective the person engaged in that activity becomes. Rich Lowry of National Review cites some agricultural subsidy recipients as no better than Enron with a tractor.

But that restriction is evaded, sometimes by people occasionally participating in farm-related telephone conference calls. Dubious partnerships are a way to get around restrictions on how much any one operation is supposed to get in federal payments. As a result, some agriculture businesses are little better than Enrons with tractors.

3) The prices charged for the product in no way reflect what the product costs to produce or what, if given the choice in the matter, a rational consumer would pay for any of it. The US tax code contains tarrifs on a large number of agricultural products to prevent foreign competition from underselling the producers, at the same time agricultural price controls keep the price from dropping below a certain point.

This makes the cost that working class American families pay for their basic staples like milk and bread several times what it needs to be. State governments don't tax staples of sustinence like food or medicines, but the Federal Government taxes them in a major way every time they enforce a law like Senator Jeffords' Northeast Dairy Price Compact.

So by attempting to eliminate the level of current federal involvement in agriculture, President Bush is making America a better place to farm. By capping the amount that one farm can receive at $250,000, he will make it a fairer place to farm. Senators and Congressmen will hear it loudly from the so-called farm lobby about how terrible this whole idea is, but then again, the only thing these agri-business types harvest well is federal welfare money. It's time to put these fat-cats off the dole.


As you may or may not already be aware, members of the Watcher's Council hold a vote every week on what they consider to be the most link-worthy pieces of writing around... per the Watcher's instructions, I am submitting one of my own posts for consideration in the upcoming nominations process.
Here is the most recent winning council post, here is the most recent winning non-council post, here is the list of results for the latest vote, and here is the initial posting of all the nominees that were voted on.

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