Friday, November 02, 2007
Even Conservatives Oppose the Farm Bill
It is a rare day that I actually agree with something written by neo-conservative columnist Victor Davis Hanson, but his op-ed in the Tribune this morning regarding the $286 billion farm bill currently before the Senate is right on the money. I wrote about my opposition to the farm bill back in August. It is essentially corporate welfare for big agribusiness that provides little to no help for actual small farmers (which is why the bill was created in the first place back during the Depression).

What I appreciate about Hanson's piece is that he acknowledges that both conservatives and liberals ought to be able to agree that this bill is a bad idea. He writes:
Republicans should disavow the program because it goes against their professed creed of free markets, self-reliance and small government.

Democrats have even less reason to vote for these big giveaways to large and often corporate farms -- two-thirds of the direct payouts going to the wealthiest 10 percent of growers. Isn't corporate welfare at odds with the little-guy, egalitarian concerns of traditional liberals?

He's exactly right. So why was this farm bill passed both by a Republican Congress back in 2002, and likely to be passed again by a Democratic Congress now? Hanson answers:
Hint: Agribusiness lobbyists fund politicians' campaigns. In return, grateful politicians promise donors someone else's federal dollars. Then both groups think up creative ways to keep the money rolling in.

Which is just one more reason why we desperately need publicly funded elections.


posted by Mike Clawson at 11:18 AM | Permalink |


At 11/05/2007 11:24:00 AM, Anonymous Karl

This isn't directly related to the farm bill, but since your blog frequently touches on politics, I thought of this web space when reading the recent Rolling Stone interview with U2's Bono. His comments might make fodder for discussion.

"It was always going to go wrong. I remember in the first moments after "shock and awe," I was watching it at home with [my wife] Ali and I said, "These people have just hidden their guns in the basement, took off their uniforms and come out waving American flags. And they've been told to. They knew this was coming, and they know what they're doing." . . .

"I said it in all my conversations. To Condi. To Karl Rove. I did not discuss it with President Bush. I try to stick to my pitch, and it's an abuse of my access for me to switch subjects. But I'm a lippy Irish rock star, and I'm more used to putting my foot in my mouth than my fist. So occasionally I'm just going to talk about it.

"I want to be very, very clear, however: I understand and agree with the analysis of the problem. There is an imminent threat. It manifested itself on 9/11. It's real and grave. It is as serious a threat as Stalinism and National Socialism were. Let's not pretend it isn't.

"I think people as reasoned as Tony Blair looked at the world and didn't want to be Neville Chamberlain, who came back from meeting with Hitler with a piece of paper saying "peace in our time," while Hitler was planning to cross the channel from France.


"Just being in D.C., and meeting all the people I've met - I've now been going there for nearly ten years. They let me in their rooms and they listen to my rhetoric or invective or whatever it turns out to be. And I come away from that city not with nausea but with admiration. These people work like dogs. These lawmakers, they're trying to move between their families back home and Washington. All of them could make much more money in the private sector. Not all, but most of them are there for the right reasons. There's very little glamour. And they're listening to me, who's completely over-rewarded for what I do.

"Yes, I have my moments and I lose patience. I'm in a rage sometimes. But my overall feeling when I look at the body politic, which I know now very well, is "God, these people can behave very badly, but they work very hard and they're often motivated by much higher intentions than I thought when I came into the process." I'm amazed by it."


At 11/05/2007 06:53:00 PM, Blogger Mike Clawson

Hey Karl, thanks for those quotes.

I totally agree with Bono. The Iraq War was a colossal mistake right from day one. He is also right that radical Islam is a real problem that needs to be dealt with - however, it needs to be dealt with intelligently and a full-scale invasion of one (or two) Muslim countries was not at all an intelligent or effective way to deal with Islamic terrorism. We've only managed to make things much, much worse in that regards.

Besides which, there has never been any theological justification for a preemptive war whatsoever. One does not have to be a pacifist (which I am not) to realize that a preemptive war, by definition, cannot be a just war. It doesn't matter what good results this war may (or more likely not) produce in the end, it was still morally wrong right from the get go, and nothing can change that.

Regarding the good intentions of our lawmakers, I have no doubt. And I agree that they are overworked and that they need to be able to spend much more time at home among their constituents, and much, much less time raising money from wealthy donors and influential lobbyists. Bill Clinton said much the same thing a few weeks ago on the Daily Show when he talked about how most Congressmen are overworked and sleep-deprived, and spending way too much time fundraising and not enough time talking with the people they actually represent. Which, to come back to my point in this post, is why we drastically need public financing of our elections.


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