July 19, 2011

YEAH, BUT THEY'RE WHITE...:

It’s Time To Kick Farmers Off The Federal Dole (Doug Bandow, 7/18/11, Forbes)

Consider the agricultural dole.

Many city folk have an emotional attachment to a way of life they have never experienced. The image of the “family farm” possesses particular appeal.

Yet most entrepreneurs work hard, as do farmers, while facing enormous and unpredictable risks, only less based on weather. Working with animals and plants is interesting, not ennobling. And the family farm is largely a quaint historical artifact: today agriculture increasingly is big business pursued by shrewd corporate operators, who are even more adept at politics than economics.

Government subsidies obviously aren’t necessary for food production: people have fed themselves and traded their surpluses for thousands of years. The system doesn’t help consumers. Reducing supplies and imposing price floors obviously are bad deals for the hungry. Paying off farmers might lower some prices, but steals back through taxes any benefits received by consumers. Agricultural subsidies are designed by farmers for farmers.

But which farmers? Not the idyllic family farmer. The majority of payments go to farms with average annual revenue exceeding $200,000 and net worth around $2 million.

In a new paper for the American Enterprise Institute, Dr. Barry K. Goodwin at North Carolina State University observed: ”a large share of agricultural subsidies goes to a small segment of society that tends to be wealthier, less financially leveraged, and of higher income than the nonagricultural sectors of the aggregate economy. Moreover, farmers do not generally face more risk than business owners in other sectors, nor do farms fail more often than other forms of business. In fact, farm businesses rarely fail.”

In short, Uncle Sam is playing reverse Robin Hood.


Posted by at July 19, 2011 6:18 AM
  

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