It's fairly obvious to anyone who's not sleepwalking that higher food and fuel prices are really hurting most Americans. Everyday I get emails from folks who are struggling with these two bills. For many people it's a real serious problem.
Maybe I'm just an optimist, but I figured that our elected representatives would recognize the problem and try to do something about it. Boy, was I wrong. Not only did they ignore the food price inflation, but they actually found a way to make it worse! They just don't seem to understand what it's like for you and I to work to support our families. Last week provided an excellent example. On May 14th, the House passed a $307 Billion farm bill.
Now, I like farmers as much as anyone. In fact, Foremans were Wisconsin dairy farmers. I was raised in the city, but spent lots of time visiting relatives who made their living on small family farms. So I have the utmost respect for someone who plants something and nurtures it as it grows bigger. And, I want to help those people wherever I can. But, this bill doesn't do that. It assumes that you and I are too stupid to go beyond the name 'farm bill'. We must be too dumb to recognize that it's not the small farmer who's being protected. It's the large agri-business corporation and others who have little (or nothing) to do with farming as you and I would think of it.
First, look at the cutoff. A couple with a yearly income of $1.5 million can receive farm subsidies. Call me Scrooge, but I'd say that families making more than, oh, say $500,000 per year probably doesn't need subsidies paid for by you and I. One group reports that only 8% of the producers will get 78% of the money here
Still think it could be a good piece of legislation? Take a look at your grocery bill. You'll find that bread, milk and meat have all increased in price. Dramatically. Why? In large part because ethanol is consuming grains that normally would go to feed us. Higher prices indicate that there's more demand for corn than we can produce. Now you might think that Washington would get the idea that their ethanol mandates should be relaxed until the supply of corn can catch up with the demand. Guess again. So why is the government subsidizing ethanol production? Seems a little like pouring gas on the fire of higher food prices.
Then you have the old Congressional shell game. That's where they include spending that has nothing to do with the main bill. After all, who wants to be against the family farm? So let's throw in some money for horse racing and timber interests. Those dummies back home will never know the difference!
Rational people might have said that this was a good time to limit a farm bill to helping those family farmers who truly need help. "Farm net income is up 56% in the last 2 years" (source: NY Times) There's "$40 billion in subsidies to commodity farmers who already enjoy record prices." (source: SF Chronicle) We could have had a farm bill that took care of the small family farm without causing additional grocery inflation. But, that wouldn't have pleased all the special interests.
Guess I'm just mad. You and I are dealing with higher energy and food prices. Instead of doing something to help, our elected representatives (from both parties) are busy spending our money buying favors for themselves. Adding 'earmarks' to every bill in sight. I really believe that it's time to put Washington on a budget. And, force them to keep it. Whoever said that they should be allowed to 'earmark' anything? I don't recall voting on it.
Much of the economic trouble that you and I face today is due to the clowns (and I use the term intentionally) in Washington that we call elected representatives. They set us up for this fall. And, unless a camera is present they really don't seem to care to much about how much it hurts us. After all, things are booming in the beltway. No recession there!
I was raised to respect the people who led our country. But, it's really hard to respect someone when you know that their back pockets are filled with money that at best was unearned, and, at worst could be called bribe money. Maybe it's time to let them know how little respect they've earned.
So the next time your elected representative says they're against special interests ask them how they voted on the farm bill. There were 318 yes votes (and only 106 no's) in the House. The Senate voted 85-15. This isn't a partisan Democrat/Republican issue. This is a question whether we can trust the crazies on the Potomac not to bankrupt both the government and you and I. If they voted 'yes' on this bill, it's probably time to vote 'no' on their re-election this November.
Keep on Stretching those Dollars!