The Farm Bill is the Government You Get


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 people.

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 advertising?

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 special interests.

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.