Battlepanda: How do we end this madness?


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

How do we end this madness?

When you've got the Republicans agreeing with Bono agreeing with the Cato institute agreeing with me that something's bad, bad, bad, it's probably time for it to go. Except we're talking about crop subsidies for western farmers, and as as Mark Thoma grimly opined: "I'll believe it's possible to eliminate crop subsidies if and when it happens."
In Fight Against Farm Subsidies, Even Farmers Are Joining Foes, by Scott Kilman and Roger Thurow, WSJ: A movement to uproot crop subsidies, which have been worth nearly $600 billion to U.S. farmers over the decades, is gaining ground in some unlikely places -- including down on the farm. In Iowa ... a Republican running to be state agriculture secretary is telling big farmers they should get smaller checks. Mark W. Leonard, who collects subsidies himself ... told a room full of farmers ... that federal payments spur overproduction, which depresses prices for poor growers overseas. "From a Christian standpoint, what it is doing to Africa tugs at your heartstrings," Mr. Leonard told them. ...

There is a long history of mostly failed attempts to pare farm payments. But the current anti-subsidy sentiment ... is stirring attention because it is unusually broad. Students for Social Justice at Baylor University in Texas have dumped cotton balls on the ground to protest cotton subsidies. The foundation of late Nascar legend Dale Earnhardt has teamed up with rock star Bono, ... to overhaul Western agriculture policies to boost African development. In Washington, D.C., the Alliance for Sensible Agriculture Policies is meeting to share ideas about changing the farm bill. Participants include Oxfam and Environmental Defense from the left, the National Taxpayers Union on the right and the libertarian Cato Institute. Prominent philanthropic organizations, including the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, are financing some of this advocacy. ... Another spur to the anti-subsidy movement comes from the World Trade Organization...[snip]

The movement is tilting against one of the most deeply entrenched federal entitlements. In 1996, a Republican-led Congress passed legislation to wean farmers from subsidies over seven years. But Washington backed off as the farm economy entered one of its cyclical tailspins. The 2002 farm bill signed by President Bush is one of the most lavish ever, even as the economic cycle improved. ...

This is a perfect illustration of how a very motivated minority can somehow subvert the will of the majority in our democracy. This has got to be stopped...but how?