There is a farm bill going through Congress that will likely
be signed into law by Obama. I
don’t think I could find a more fitting example of what the government does and
how the average American gets the short end of the stick. This farm bill represents almost
everything that is wrong with this country.
There might be some on the far left who will criticize this
bill because it cuts money for food stamps. While I don’t agree with the federal government handing out
food stamps at all, I find it even more despicable when money is handed out to
rich farmers and special interests.
In this sense, it is the perfect Republican bill. They can brag to their constituents
that they cut food stamps, while not mentioning the fact that this is a bill
costing the American taxpayer about $100 billion per year.
But this will be a bill that passes in bipartisan
fashion. Whenever legislation is
bipartisan, it means you should hold on to your wallet.
This means it will cost the average American family about
$1,000 per year. Do you want to
pay $1,000 per year funding agricultural subsidies and various other programs,
or would you rather keep the money and spend it how you see fit?
It is a bill written for lobbyists, special interests, rich
farmers, and insurance companies, while also doling out some welfare to poor
The latest provision is to eliminate direct subsidy payments
to farmers and instead expand a crop insurance program. I guess you could say it is the
agriculture sector’s version of Obamacare.
Why is the federal government involved with crop
insurance? Why is the federal
government subsidizing farmers?
Why is the federal government funding catfish inspections? Why is the federal government funding
wool research? Why is the federal
government involved in the pricing of milk and sugar? Why is the federal government involved in Christmas tree
Is this really the role of government? Much of this goes back to the 1930’s
with Franklin Roosevelt. It just
shows that it is hard to get rid of government programs once they come into
existence. They may go through
some changes, but the spending and regulating continues.
This farm bill is also a perfect example of legislation that
has concentrated benefits and costs that are spread out. In this sense, it is a classic
government program that is almost impossible to defund.
The concentrated benefits are the lobbyists, the farmers, and
the other special interests, all of whom will receive millions or billions of
dollars because of this legislation.
They have a strong interest in lobbying politicians and lining their
pockets to make sure it passes.
The special interests will devote a lot of time and resources because of
the high payout.
Meanwhile, the costs are spread out, although in this case
they aren’t that minor when taking the whole bill into account. Most legislation that costs “only” a
few million dollars here and there does not get any attention, unless it
somehow gains national attention because it carries a particular symbolic
message, especially with social issues.
But in most cases, the costs are spread out such that the
opposition is not nearly as strong as the proponents. Even for legislation that will cost you $1,000, you perceive
that it is not worth your time and money to try and fight it. You are probably correct, unless there
are thousands or millions of other people willing to contribute to the
cause. The opposition, in most
cases, simply won’t be as well organized and as well funded. The incentives are far greater for the
This will only change in one of two ways. One way is for the government to run
out of money and be forced to stop or cut back on this type of funding.
The second way is for a large percentage of the American
population to demand an end to these government welfare programs. It is not enough just to say that you
oppose them. You have to stop
supporting the people who support such programs.