Meet The New Farm Bill, Same As the Old Farm Bill
From today's Washington Post: "This was the year the antiquated and expensive farm subsidy program was to be reformed. A growing chorus has turned against the $16 billion annual subsidy, and yet the 2007 farm bill is pretty much the same as previous versions."
What's wrong with farm subsidies and who's against them? Here's a list from the Post article:
1.Most of the farm subsidies go to 150,000 big corporate farms rather than the small farmers for whom the program was designed during the Depression, further hastening the death of the small family farm.
2. Major business lobbies, including numerous Fortune 500 companies, have attacked the farm bill because it is blocking a multibillion-dollar global trade deal.
3. International charities oppose farm subsidies in the U.S. because they undermine poor foreign farmers, who can't compete against subsidized American crops.
4. Environmentalists want the program changed because it rewards farmers who are among the nation's biggest water polluters.
5. Parents worried about obese children, and the growing cult of foodies -- from celebrity chefs to urbanites newly addicted to full-flavored tomatoes -- made impassioned pleas for the money to go toward local and organic produce.
6. Surging prices for corn, milk and other commodities have raised farmers' incomes and undercut arguments about the need for this expensive income transfer.
In other words, just about everybody is against farm subsidies in general and the 2007 farm bill in particular.
So who's in favor of farm subsidies? The "Iron Triangle" of: a) rich corporate farmers harvesting cash subsidies and addicted to the lucrative D.C.-style pork, b) the pork-pushing politicians catering to a well-organized special interest group in return for votes and contributions, and c) the bureaucrats at the Department of Agriculture whose jobs depend on distibuting the pork to the pork addicts.
And why doesn't this change? It's a perfect example of the "tyranny of the status quo."
Masonomics would explain it this way: "Governments do not face competitive pressure. They are immune from the "creative destruction" of entrepreneurial innovation. In the market, ineffective firms go out of business. In government, ineffective programs develop powerful constituent groups with a stake in their perpetuation."