ag subsidies

Nov 112010

Someone commented on the WSJ editorial, “A Deficit of Nerve : Obama’s commission has ideas that Republicans can use,” saying that many of the proposed budget cuts will kill people. My response:

Not making those cuts will kill people, too. Millions of lives could be at stake.

If we now have the histronics out of the way, maybe we can get down to serious discussion.

I agree with the editorial writers that there is much in the draft outline to build on. They makes the point that Canada doesn’t have a home mortgage interest deduction, yet has a higher rate of home ownership than we have. If this deduction can’t be zeroed out, I don’t know why it shouldn’t be reduced to say, $100,000 instead of the $500,000 suggested in the commission’s draft.

I also wish the commission had tackled the issue of health care reform. But it seems there were some taboo topics. According to the editorial:

More egregiously, the chairmen tiptoe around ObamaCare, which has led some on the right and left to claim that the commission is essentially endorsing the largest new entitlement in 40 years. We’re told the chairmen mostly dodged the subject because Democrats on the commission made that a nonnegotiable demand. A truly bold report would consider Congressman Paul Ryan’s model to make Medicare a defined contribution program. Instead, the chairmen settle for the familiar likes of “payment reforms,” which never work because of Medicare’s flawed political price-control model.

On that subject I posted the following comment:

Back in April, when setting up this commission, President Obama said everything needs to be on the table. But now we learn that the Democrats on the commission wouldn’t allow any health care reforms to be put on the table. It was non-negotiable. If they couldn’t accept the job they were commissioned to do, shouldn’t they have declined to serve on the commission, or if it was too late for that, resigned?

On the subject of taxes, I’m surprised they want to make our tax system more regressive by increasing the social security tax, of all taxes.

But there is one other item that would do more to reduce the budget deficit than any of their other proposals. Term limits would bring under control the budget distortions brought about by the power of incumbency. These limits wouldn’t need to be severe term limits to be effective.

We need a slogan: No justice, no peace.

Oops. Wrong slogan. It should be: No term limits, no tax hikes.

I’d say that if we eliminate ag subsidies (aka the root of all evil), zero out funding for NPR, and get a constitutional amendment to institute term limits for Congress, then we can think about a tax increase to get us out of our hole. If members of Congress are term-limited, we will have a better basis for trusting that they might really use new revenues for deficit reduction. Otherewise, that part should be just as non-negotiable as the Democrats’ refusal to reform our health care system.

Apr 242010


When I heard about Marlin Stutzman’s campaign to become a Senator from Indiana, and then learned that he is a farmer from from Howe, I thought it might be good to support his campaign — even send him a campaign contribution.

Howe is one day’s bicycle ride from my home. Sometimes I camp at one or the other of two nearby campgrounds on my way to points further south. I’ve ridden on a lot of the roads in all directions from Howe, so I snooped on the Internet to find out just where Stutzman lived, in case it was a road that was familiar to me. After doing this search I think I’ve identified a rare stretch of road on which I haven’t yet ridden — the one where the Stutzmans live. But I think you would get to his home if you followed the road pictured above. It’s a photo I took on a day ride a few Saturdays ago on Mongoquinong Prairie, east of Howe. The town is barely visible in the distance. For all I know, the Stutzmans may farm some of the land shown in the photo. It’s close enough to their home that it might be feasible.

Unfortunately, while I would certainly vote for Stutzman if I lived in Indiana, I came away from his website with a sense of weary disappointment. It’s as though he’s just following one of the standard Republican formulas — pushing some of the standard buttons. It’s one of the better formulas, I suppose — at least it’s one of the more conservative ones — but it’s not good enough considering the unprecedented threat to our country and to human rights around the world that is posed by the Obama Juggernaut.

Here are my comments on some of the statements on the web site:

– He authored and voted for legislation that cut wasteful government spending, and streamlined state bureaucracies.

The problem is that streamlining state bureaucracies isn’t always a good thing. Sometimes it means removing necessary checks and making the regulatory process more corrupt.

– In 2008 he voted to pass the largest Property Tax Cut in state history.
– In eight years at the State House, he has never cast a vote for deficit spending, and has only cast votes for truly balanced budgets, stating, “The government must be limited and learn to tighten its fiscal belt just like Hoosiers have to do every day.”

No problem with this part. The concept of limits needs to be emphasized more often.

– He sponsored bills requiring education dollars to go directly to the classroom and less to administrative costs.
Homeland Security

I wish it was stated how he did this. I don’t know how this can be done except by decentralizing the educational system — breaking up larger districts and educational units into smaller ones. If he did that, he’s got something to brag about. Otherwise, I’d be suspicious that this is something like the paperwork reduction acts of the federal government that resulted in additional paperwork to certify compliance.

– In 2006 He co-sponsored HEA 1722 offering tax credits to bio-fuel producers which helped to bring 12 new bio-fuel plants to Indiana from ’02 – ’07.

This is the most disappointing part. Being a grain farmer I’m sure he can see the bright side to bio-fuels. But if he was a principled conservative, he’d want market forces, not subsidies, to make them work.

Back in the Gingrich days, it was rural congresspersons who wouldn’t give up their subsidies who were instrumental in destroying the one chance we had to bring government spending under control and within constitutional limits. I blame these subsidies, because in order to get support for those subsidies, rural representatives have to in turn support much of the leftist agenda. Withdraw that piece, and the whole corrupt house of cards will come tumbling down.

A rural Senator who could propose a plan to wean us off those subsidies would be extremely dangerous to leftwing hegemony. A Senator who did that would need good communication skills and tact to explain this to his farmer constituents and persuade them that it’s in the whole country’s long-term interest. He’d also need the wit to parry the attacks of the celebrity/media/left. Such a Senator would be a force to be reckoned with. But I don’t see any big difference coming from the platform that Stutzman lays out, especially given this part.

So I wish him well, but it’s hard to work up any great enthusiasm.

Oh, his web site also doesn’t say anything about repealing Obama care. Like I said, it’s hard to work up any great enthusiasm.

Apr 132010

Blog item at the WSJ:

Anybody who thinks the European Union will cut its mammoth annual aid package for farmers — at $70 billion, the equivalent of an AIG bailout every year — should listen to new EU farm commissioner Dacian Ciolos.

My response:

Joe Stalin liquidated his kulaks. Other industrial countries have dealt with the problem by turning them into welfare queens.

Which method is more effective? Discuss.