The difference between a statesman and a politician is that the former looks to the next generation, and the latter to the next election. English Proverb
The United States of American was established by statesmen – men who put the welfare of the citizenry above that of their own. There are very few statesmen among today’s political leaders, even fewer among those who seek the office of president. Last week’s Republican presidential debate was a case in point.
For the first 30 minutes, the man I have dubbed the “Stepford candidate,” former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, was beginning to look good to me. I was ready to believe that this man, who has been all over the political spectrum in the course of his career, was sincere — until he was given the opportunity to respond to a question posed by a YouTube participant Ted Faturos. Faturos wanted to know which of the candidates, who label themselves fiscally responsible, will endorse the elimination of farm subsidies.
Romney’s response was ludicrous.
We don’t want to find ourselves, with regards to our food supply, in the same kind of position we’re in with regards to our energy supply. And so it’s important for us to make sure that our farmers are able to stay on the farm and raise the crops that we need to have a secure source of food. And so I believe in supports that will allow us to do that.
After Romney opined about how foreign governments subsidize their farmers, Cooper threw the question to Rudy Giuliani who agreed with Romney.
This was pure political pandering of the worst sort to farmers in Iowa – the site of the nation’s first presidential caucus. It fact, the answer they gave should be considered a “hanging offense” to voters who are on the giving – not the receiving – end of those subsidies.
It is a shame that every candidate on the stage did not have an opportunity to give us a straight answer on that question. However, they all were given a chance to name three programs they would eliminate and not one mentioned the Department of Agriculture.
If ever, there was a federal agency that has outlived its usefulness, it is this one!
Today in America, there are more people whose welfare is tied to the computer industry than agriculture, but the federal government still micro manages the nation’s farmers.
The idea that we will run out of food or depend on countries with farm subsidies to feed us is ridiculous. There is no shortage of food in the world and certainly not here in this country. There are isolated cases where people are starving, but it is not because of a food shortage. Modern farming techniques make it possible to produce more food on less acreage than ever before.
According to a study by Brian Riedl of the Heritage Foundation, farm subsidies cost Americans $25 billion in taxes each year and another $12 billion in higher food prices.
Furthermore, we spend millions each month just to store the surplus!
Farm subsidies continually are sold as an issue of compassion. Family farmers are paraded before Congress and we are told that we must help these people who are living in poverty just to put food on our tables. In fact, commercial farmers, which have an average income of $200,000 and an average net worth of nearly $2 million now collect the majority of farm subsidies. Certainly, these folks are able to make it on their own! The taxpayers are simply adding to the fat on top of their gravy.
Recently, members of Congress considering the current farm bill, had an opportunity to limit those subsidies to those with incomes of less than $200,000. The response was underwhelming! Want to know why? Many members of Congress and their families benefit personally! Thankfully, that bill now is stalled in the Senate.
To be sure, a small amount of that farm money is doled out in dribbles and dabs to family farmers who are having trouble staying afloat. I don’t mean to be heartless, but they should be allowed to compete on their own. Some will make it. Others would be better off working for a big agribusiness. Some should transition into a different marketplace.
What about small family-run grocery and hardware stores? They have to compete against the big chains. The ones that have survived have found innovative ways to compete. The rest went under. No one shed a tear for them!
Americans are a compassionate people but we are not saps. Eliminate farm subsidies and eliminate the presidential candidates – and the members of Congress – who support them!