The Farm Bill, Legalized Theft

Years ago I wrote Paul Harvey a letter. It was about one of his noon shows where he complained about reduced government funding for Salvation Army. I thought, why would a smart guy like Paul Harvey want to ruin Salvation Army?

I still miss the old guy, having planned lunch breaks around him for years. He was there all my life. He was unapologetic about his devotion to his wife; way too unique. It was good to hear his voice a year ago on a Dodge commercial, “So God Made a Farmer.”

His syrupy portrayal of farmers was a bit creepy however, in that we were singled out as being more special than other occupations. I’m not saying we don’t have some magic moments, like pulling a live calf on a muddy midnight or working long hours to beat the weather. But most jobs are like that.

I remember when the turbo went out on our Subaru in Minnesota and a fellow at a tire store stayed way after hours to try to get us on our way. Or how about fishermen unloading a hundred thousand pounds of salmon in the middle of the night by hand. A lot of people go to great lengths to do a job they can be proud of while working in miserable conditions.

Where is the tire shop program? Shouldn’t that Norwegian American have his business promoted or subsidized by the taxpayers because he is of Norwegian decent or because he is furnishing essential goods? Of course not. He likes tires and cars. He likes dealing with the public and he needs to provide for himself and his family. Should he hold his breath waiting for Congress to write 949 pages at a billion dollars per page before he can plan his business? Of course not.

In spite of being subject to a fickle public, weather and crazy government taxes and regulations, he plods along. The good times are for saving for the bad times. The snow tires he was stuck with last year sold like hotcakes this year at a price that paid interest and then some. If new research made super conductor levitation an option to replace tires, our Norwegian American tire dealer would use his savings to tide himself over in the conversion to a different line of work or even a super conductor levitation service center. The only reason he would need a government program is if he expected it.

The reason farmers and food stamp recipients need the farm program is only because they expect it.

I could use examples of silly spending in the Farm Bill to make my point but there is not enough paper in Hampton to cover them. None of it makes sense. The entire thing is nothing but favors for special interests passed by delusional congress people who care but don’t think.

On the surface, seeing a farmer driving a $50,000 pickup looks like jobs for truck company workers. But the money comes from somewhere. And that somewhere may have had other plans for that money that were driven by a greater need than a $50,000 pickup. In other words, the program that directed that money to the pickup distorted the market.

Free markets are what make an economy efficient. They direct scarce resources to their most useful purpose. They are what makes this country the envy of the world, a country where the poor live better than the rich in 90% of the rest of the world. To support programs that throw a monkey wrench into the miraculous economic system that built his incredibly rich nation is treasonous.

To put our predicament into perspective let’s look at Senator Grassley’s vote. I wish I could congratulate Charles Grassley for voting against the Farm Bill for the right reasons; that it is legalized theft and an aggression against the American people. But he voted against it because it didn’t limit payments to big farmers enough. In other words it wasn’t socialistic enough. This distinction went by with no notice in the public discussion at all. Look at the origins of farm programs. As one of the first acts of U. S. farm programs, Franklin Roosevelt and Iowa’s own Henry A. Wallace ordered milk dumped and pigs buried at a time when many people were going hungry. Wasn’t that a clue as to the evil lurking in a controlled economy?

The Salvation Army (mentioned earlier) is a stellar example of what can be accomplished by private charity. The dependent class in our cities and now spreading through the countryside, is a direct result of unaccountable government assistance, the same way federal flood insurance enables wasteful building in flood prone areas. Federally subsidized crop insurance promotes monoculture and depletion of native soil properties. It locks out beginning farmers by reducing the cost of a safety net that protects inefficient farmers.

Critics of free markets point to failures of these programs as examples of why we need more of them. But we haven’t had a free market since the days of The New Deal. Is stealing only right if signed by the president?

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2 responses to “The Farm Bill, Legalized Theft

  1. There are many food stamp recipients who do need the food stamps. In fact, many of our military persons returning from deployment to unemployment need the food stamps to get through until they find a job.

    • We agree. We might not agree on the reason, however. They need them because they expect them.

      I read an interview once, paraphrased here:

      libertarian: We wouldn’t want to go back to having people dying in the streets.
      interviewer: Really? When was that?
      libertarian: Exactly.

      Right. Things have changed. Now instead of helping our fellow man, we coerce someone else into doing it and call ourselves compassionate. Societies like that are doomed to failure, like in 1989. It wasn’t Reagan’s military build-up and tough talk it was a system doomed to failure.

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