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July 19, 2007

Comments

Suzanne from Okla.

I think my father-in-law would agree with you. Subsidies couldn't help him stay afloat raising wheat. Now, he raises cattle and gets no subsidies, does half the work he used to but makes at least 3 times more.

The only concern I have is allowing the conglomerates to control the food supply. I don't like the idea of profit driven companies possibly sending out tainted food to keep costs down.

Sifu Jones

Jimmy, I realize you're mainly speaking out against taxpayer funding of private business, but some of your argument focuses on the obsolescence of family farming, and I gotta disagree with you there. Farming is different from radios and carriages and other things for several reasons, and here's just two:

1) All those other things were steps along a developmental path, but farming has been an essential part of the human connection with God's green earth since the beginning. I'm not one of those people that thinks it's immoral to buy food from Wal-mart, and it's theoretically possible to make an argument for a total agri-business, non-family farming society for population reasons. But we aren't there yet.

2) Our food is quite a bit more important than our entertainment, transportation, or what have you. Allowing huge conglomerates, or worse yet the government, to regulate what we eat when we eat it can only end unhappily. Sure, getting rid of government subsidies takes government out of part of the process in the short term. But once the entire industry is run by huge, publicly traded food corporations, it's only a matter of time before Congress gets their oversight committees in there to bureaucratize everything and mess it all up.

There are several other reasons, as I'm sure others here can name. Now does that mean I'm all for government farm subsidies? No. And obviously not all family-run farms are safe, efficient, or particularly helpful. But just because you can name a bunch of antiquated industries that DON'T need to be protected doesn't mean this one doesn't need protection.

In fact, I think the entire premise that family farming is somehow antiquated is wrong. Certainly reality demands that we use some form of large conglomerate farming businesses. But just because society has turned against traditional farming doesn't make it old and useless, or only useful in certain rare situations.

Maybe you should think of agri-businesses as the novus ordo, and family farming as the Tridentine Mass of food production. Both useful, both valid, neither one more effective or useful than the other. Instead, it's all in how you do the thing that matters.

Marcel LeJeune

I agree with you quite a bit about subsidies. But, be careful. I live and work with a number of farmers and ranchers (and children of farmers/ranchers) and I have only met one or two who agree with such sentiments.

Don't even mention it to a cotton farmer ever. They get HUGE subsidies.

SDben5

I agree lets end all subsidies. Then those lazy farmers would have to go out and find a real job. Who needs food anyways?

Matthew Kennel

I also don't think that the argument that family farming is only a "tradition" flies. The fact is that the family farm serves an important social function by creating a family based business. The family farm inculcates an environment of family togetherness, moral values, hard work, and responsibility. Agri-business just doesn't do that in the same way. I'm a software person, and I've been in a family business that was being transformed (by being bought out twice) into a corporate arm. This was a painful and de-humanizing transformation, one which left me permenantly scarred (and it wasn't even my "family business"). Therefore, if the government can do something to prop up one kind of family business, it should.

JD

If we aren't going to create the protective tarrifs that foster American manufacturing industry, and stop letting the Chinese build and sell us cars tax free in Mexico and Sub-Saharan Africa, farming subsidies, either way, are a non-issue. sorry Jimmy, but there are MUCH bigger economic fish ot fry.

Jim

Jimmy: This is the only time I disagree with you. All of the arguments about the dangers of conglomerates owning all of our food supply sources are valid, but there are other concerns as well: where will the food of the future come from? China, Asia. It won,t be the USA that's for sure. We are "building" ourselves out of good farm land. The US is a big country, but that doesn't mean that it is all good, producing farm land. The good stuff is disappearing at an alarming rate. I live in Western Washington and it is happening all around us here, at an alarming rate. What used to be dairy land, corn fields, orchards, etc is now condos, highrises,shopping centers.
We can go on and on, making analogies about Wal Marts and their effect on small business's, the effects of unbridled competition. Now here's something to think about- one of the reasons the cost of food is going up, is the fact that corn is being sold to make alternative fuels, instead of feeding our live stock. Should we give the production of corn, soy beans, to the highest bidder? Do you really want to buy your corn from China??? Think about it.
I am not in favor of a socialist economy, but neither am I a laissez faire economist, or a libertarian. In the perfect world none of this would matter, but we live in a very messy world, and compromises must be made. We cannot afford to be overly doctrinaire on every point.
Jim

JohnD

While I'm all for a free-market economy, there might be a strategic or national defense rationale for limited agricultural subsidies.

If we relied heavily on other counties for our fuel for humans, and a few large counties turned on us, it could spell disaster.

Marcel LeJeune

So, Riceland Foods needs more than $500 million from our government? Doesn't sound like a family farm to me.

Only less than 1/3 of farmers and ranchers take subsidies, and among those who do receive the subsidies - 10% received almost 3/4 of the payments. So, it is going to prop up big agribusiness, not the family farmers.

Marcel LeJeune

FYI - my father-in-law is a rancher here in TX and has never received a single subsidy and neither have have the other ranchers in their family.

Tim J.

One place I am in favor of smaller farms is in the area of livestock - ranching, chicken farming, pig farming - what have you.

The operation of big factory farms (at least where animals are concerned) encourages inhumane practices and results in lower quality products, some of which might be full of things that aren't good for people, like hormones.

We have a natural food store in town that carries natural beef, raised on pasture land, that may be much healthier (I believe it is) than what you find in your average grocery store.

Yes, it's more expensive, but as the saying goes - do you want it good, or do you want it cheap?

Otherwise, I think Jimmy is pretty much correct. Subsidies are not a good thing, long term. It didn't help the coal miners in Britain - in the long run - and it won't really help the farmers here.

Mike


I agree on ending subsidies. Becoming dependent on the government is never a good thing. Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, but don't live in his house.

Another thing that is never considered are the unintended consequences of these bills - as if all they ever do is help. But there is no such thing as a free lunch.

Esau

If that was the government's job then it should have subsidized all the horse breeders and stable managers and veterinarians and carriage makers and street cleaners that existed at the time the automobile was introduced, so that they could keep their prior occupations even though a new and better means of personal transportation had been developed.


What ever happened to cobblers? Figures.

pseudomodo

Not I, said the goat.

Not I, said the pig.

Not I. said the little red hen...

Smoky Mountain Hiker

Anything that keeps food production squarely within the US is fine with me.

I no longer trust anything made in China -- too many articles in the news about buns that use cardboard as filler, antifreeze in my toothpaste, etc. etc.

Yikesies.

paul f

When I started my PhD program in Economics four years ago, I would have stressed to things about the value of farms: 1) national security and 2) folk value. I think we all get number 1, and I think we shouldn't be too quick to ignore number 2. It's nice to drive down the road and see a farm. I get happiness out of it. So the farm is providing more value than just the food it creates.

However, now I'm starting to think about things a little differently. I suppose my main question to those that support farm subsidies is this: how certain are we that ending subsidies would mean an end to the family farm? I think the mistaken assumption here is that subsidies are intended to help the farmer and that they actually do. I can think of a number of very plausible scenarios where subsidies only (or primarily) help consumers. It could be that the subsidies have very little economic impact for farmers.

Furthermore, I guess I'm starting to have a little more faith in the entrepreneurial spirit of Americans. If we ended subsidies and family farms starting disappearing--but they still provided value in the ways mentioned above--would we all just sit there passively watching them disappear, crying our eyes out and wishing government would do something to help?

Esau

I no longer trust anything made in China

Unfortunately, it seems that everything in the US these days are made in China.

paul f

*two

I can't believe I did that. There goes my credibility.

Smoky Mountain Hiker

In the interest of charity, I should note that I just read a Washington Post article claiming the cardboard bun issue was a hoax:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/19/AR2007071901138.html

Smoky Mountain Hiker

But the above article lists other real scandals that are just as scary, and that I wasn't aware of:

The report came amid real food scares involving toxic fish, tainted pork and egg yolks colored with a cancer-causing dye that have harmed China's reputation as an exporter and alarmed people at home.

Esau

I think the mistaken assumption here is that subsidies are intended to help the farmer and that they actually do.


Paul f,
What are your reasons exactly for thinking otherwise?

paul f

In a long-run perfectly competitive market, for example, supply is perfectly elastic. Add a subsidy to this market and it lowers buyer price, without increasing the price the seller gets at all. In other words, any benefit to the sellers of the subsidy (extra profit, for example), will, in the long run, cause entry into the market that reduces that profit to its pre-subsidy level.

The benefits of a subsidy (or the negative effects of a tax) will be shared by buyers and sellers according to each side of the market's ability to enter or leave the market. The side of the market less able (or willing) to leave the market, receives more of the impact of the policy. I think it's very reasonable to guess that, in the long run, buyers are generally unresponsive to changes in price when it comes to food, and that sellers are generally more responsive.

Mike Petrik

I agree with Jimmy's post. The real problem here is that dynamic and free markets cause change, and change is inevitably painful and harmful to some. Society should carefully evaluate the circumstances under which the pain or harm is sufficiently severe so as to warrant assistance in some way, but such assistance should be properly understood as a type or social insurance or charity. Interfering with the market through subsidies and other artifices is really no more than assisting the privileged and comfortable at the expense of folks who are working in earnest to become privileged and comfortable. Yes, losing one's job can be very traumatic; but interfering with free markets to prevent such traumas will only mean (i) on an absolute scale, society's standard of living will stagnate, and (ii) on a relative scale, the rich will stay rich and the poor will stay poor.
These issues get a lot of attention today for a couple reasons. First, a high standard of living allows people to assign greater value to security than historically; second, today's extraordinarily dynamic markets cause much more change and therefore much more trauma than historically. Yet, those same markets have allowed for a truly remarkable standard of living, even for our poor by any fair worldwide or historic standard.
The real key to the dilemma is for families to live within their means, which means prudent saving practices. And given the super-dynamic modern economy, prudent savings probably requires something more robust than it might have 30, 40, or 50 years ago.
In summary, anxieties caused by market changes are real. But the best remedy is living within one's means accompanied by sound savings. Government prevention of market changes is not only inefficient (i.e., it will lead to an overall diminished standard of living) it is inequitable (i.e., it rewards those benefiting by the status quo at the expense of those who would benefit by its change). There is no reason that the American who has never owned any farmland, or perhaps any real estate or business at all, should be expected to subsidize a family that owns such assets just because that family has done so for many years. In my opinion the impulse to do so is grounded more in romance than either logic or fairness.

Chris

JD, I am at a loss for what this even means:
stop letting the Chinese build and sell us cars tax free in Mexico and Sub-Saharan Africa

did I miss something? I thought we didn't govern Chinese or Mexico (though the latter, well...)

Tex

Regarding China, we've already let the cat out of the bag. When you think made in China stop thinking plastic toys and tennis shoes. The Chinese are making great telecomunications equipment at 25% the cost of American/French and Canadian companies (you know who you are!!). They're making MRI machines, rockets, big lasers to shoot down satellites. Not only are they becoming cutting edge in nearly area requiring advanced engineering and manufacture.

Also, frankly, they're keeping our economy afloat.

Of course, we are keeping their economy afloat as well.

deanswife

"Of course, we are keeping their economy afloat as well."

I was with you until that last line. How does a 6-to-1 trade deficit amount to us keeping their economy afloat?

Mike Petrik

deanswife,
While I'm sure Tex intends his "keeping the economy afloat" comments to be simplifications, I think the answer is that by buying their goods we are sending them profits in dollars for their workers and owners to spend.
Meanwhile, we continue to get cheaper goods increasing our standard of living.
While not unimportant, most economists agree that the importance of trade imbalance is usually overstated.

Esau

Paul f:
Thanks for the response. I was particularly interested in what you had to say given your background.


Tex:
About China, consider not only that most things in the U.S. are made there, but that China has been buying up large shares of major U.S. companies (not the least amongst them, those that involved in defense), as well as US Treasury bills.

I'm not suggesting any far-fetched conspiracy theory here (since folks said similar things about the Japanese back in the 80s), but it does seem rather ominous.

Will China in the future become the world power?

Only time will tell.

JoeyG

Another big problem with the whole current system is much more basic, and it has to do with what government's responsibilities are and in what we wish to govern ourselves. Some people who support the idea of subsidies often pass up a roadside vegetable or fruitstand for the convenience and lower prices of WalMart; yet, they would be supporting the small family farm and getting a better product and eliminating the need for subsidies if they elected to shop the real grocers' wares.

I think Jimmy's argument is valid, even if I might disagree with it. I don't think big factory farms and scientifically manipulated 10 pound carrots are better than the small family farm. But I agree with the need to eliminate subsidies. I think the dichotomy highlights a choice that our culture needs to make. We need to either elect for big business, and "efficiency" and technology, or we need to start giving our business to smaller endeavors even if it is a little inconvenient. We can't have it both ways, however, giving our business to the mechanisms that put small farmers out and business drive subsidies higher while also providing those subsidies through our taxes.

Esau

Mike Petrik:
... is really no more than assisting the privileged and comfortable at the expense of folks who are working in earnest to become privileged and comfortable.

I take it you might not be a fan of a trickle-down economy?


JoeyG:
We need to either elect for big business, and "efficiency" and technology, or we need to start giving our business to smaller endeavors even if it is a little inconvenient. We can't have it both ways...

Are you aware that it's the entreprenuer (i.e., small business) that has helped build America to what it is today?

I believe what you've stated here an either/or fallacy. Perhaps if you elaborated on your exact meaning of "small endeavors".

Foxfier

Tim J- the best thing you could do, if you really want to improve the lifestyles of beef cattle, is kick the forest service in the tail and let us use more of the areas we've been renting for years. The cows remove a lot of the stuff that causes a threat of forest fires, the ranchers do up-keep on the roads and a thousand cattle still can't match the damage of four teenage boys in their dad's old jeep. (Check my web site for pictures.)

Other than that-- I am for fazing out subsidies.

And for the guy who thinks we're building over ALL of the farm land-- not even close. Not even a little bit close. Give us three hundred years or so.

Esau

The cows remove a lot of the stuff that causes a threat of forest fires...


Cows are bad for the environment.
They all should be wiped out!


EXCERPT:

The researchers have calculated that one beef cow during its lifetime is responsible for 10,000 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent (that is, greenhouse gases with the same heat-trapping power as that much CO2). In more user-friendly terms, that means a couple pounds of beef—about what Americans would buy to grill for a family of four carnivores this weekend—is responsible for about as much greenhouse gas emissions as “driving for three hours while leaving all the lights on back home,” as the British weekly New Scientist calculates.

Link:

What, Me Sacrifice? Take 2

Mike Petrik

"I take it you might not be a fan of a trickle-down economy?"

Yeah, if by trickle down economy you mean a market-based one. That term was first used to pejoritively describe supply side economics, which you will recall basically held that a reduction in tax rates could actually serve to increase tax revenues. Many liberals were hostile to the very idea, but in this they were plainly off base. All one has to do is to posit an economy with a 100% income tax to discern that a rate reduction would result in increased tax revenues -- after all it is pretty obvious that if we were taxed on 100% of our income few people would bother earning any income to tax. As Art Laffer correctly understood, one can therefore hypothesize a curve that describes the relationship between tax revenue and tax rates under which both ends are essentially zero and the maximum revenue is somewhere in between. The difficulty, of course, lies in discerning the precise shape of the curve under current circumstances, which is not at all easy.
The debate soon mutated from one about tax policy and government revenue to one about tax policy and standard of living -- in particular the comparative value of relative versus absolute standard of living measurement. To be simplistic, folks on the right felt that a society where the standard of living ranged from 5X to 1,000,000,000,000X was superior to a society where the standard of living ranged from 2.5X to 2.6X. Folks on the left favored the reverse. Of course, as a practical matter the debate is more nuanced. The question becomes will a tax cut for a high income earner really indirectly help low income earners, and if so how does it compare with a tax cut to a low income earner (not easy to achieve by the way since most don't pay any income tax) or a funded government program aimed at low income earners. Reasonable people differ on these and related questions. My undergraduate training (economics) and life experience has caused me to favor market approaches and to disfavor punishing high income earners. Plenty of smart people in good faith come our differently. For what it's worth, though, I do think bishops should be very cautious in this arena. Other than criticizing the placement of truly burdensome taxes on the genuinely poor, I don't think that Catholic theology has a lot to contribute in terms of economic policy. I have read quite a bit about distributivism and, notwithstanding my initial attraction to it, I have found it grounded in extraordinarily naive economic assumptions as an economic system -- though it has many attractions in terms of guiding private behavior.
My unwillingness to accept distributivism as an economic system has caused me to be flamed pretty badly in other Catholic blogs, but so be it -- I fully concede I could be wrong. But I do think it is at least a little instructive that none of my critics displayed even the most rudimentary understanding of the market economics they were so keen on criticising.
Sorry for being so pedantic -- I usually try not to be.
In any case, cheers!

Tim J.

But Esau, I like cows, especially grilled.

Tim J.

Next they'll be saying beer is bad for the environment...

Mike Petrik

And this just in...

Bad news: the Dems are proposing to increase the cigar tax from 5 cents per to 50% of price. Capped at $10 per, but not sure why.

Good news: I think beer is safe from such confiscatory levies for the same reason that cigarettes are. Each Congress understands its voting constituency.

Esau

Mike Petrik,

Don't even apologize for seeming "pedantic", I actually appreciate your elaborate comments -- especially from somebody with your background.

Based on what you've just mentioned though, you probably weren't too keen on Kerry's Tax Reform plan which he claimed would affect top income-earners.

As for the Catholic Church dictating economic policy, I believe, to some extent, that what you say here may ring true when you consider that such things may be beyond the Church's competency.

After all, Christ only meant the Church to have competency when it comes to Faith and Morals, and not matters as these.

Tim J.,
The only good cow is a dead one -- medium rare with Worcestershire sauce! Al Gore better be doing something about the Cows!

Mike Petrik

Thanks for your kind words, Esau.
No, I was not a fan of Kerry's tax plan generally, though it could have been worse.
While I readily consider myself to be a conservative on matters of public and economic policy, I am not especially doctrinairre. I favor progressive taxation, but only modestly so. I think the flat tax idea has some efficiency advantages, but is not really as equitable as a modestly graduated tax. And most of the efficiencies stem from being postulated as having a simple tax base rather than a single rate. Highly progressive taxes -- especially those with high marginal rates -- will disturb economic behavior and ultimately cause what economists artfully call "a misallocation for resources." These misallocations do adversely affect society's general standard of living.
I find opinions on taxation very interesting. Many people have strong opinions without any knowledge. They have never heard of "externalities" or "excess burdens", let alone such basic principles as horizontal and vertical equity. Like most social sciences, economics and its sub-discipline of public finance (aka taxation) really is not a certain science. For example, if we increase the tax on returns from savings, will people save more or save less? Conservative economists are likely to say less under the theory that taxation reduces the return and therefore attractiveness when compared to the option of consumption. Liberal economists are more inclined to entertain the possiblity that people will save more because they must in order to achieve their savings objective given the reduced net return.
In general, I am more comfortable with the conservative position, but the truth is we cannot know with certainty. People are complex beings with complex motivations. We never operate with perfect information and are not always rational, even though economists generally assume perfect information and rational behavior. Interestingly, in this connection free markets will, of course, make information valuable and reward rational behavior (and punish irrational behavior). One thing liberals often forget is that by rewarding irrational behavior market interference can actually cause more if it precisely by making it rational. Case in point -- generous welfare programs certainly have encouraged people to forego othewise responsible behavior.
Finally, I would only add that I do think that there is a moral component to government economic policies, including taxation. But here I am pretty much a consequentialist, and the Church should be too. While desirable ends can never justify immoral means, I don't think that American liberals and conservatives realistically debate means that are intrinsically immoral. The debate really is over prudential differences. Even the idea of whether a more egalitarian distribution of wealth is desirable if it makes everyone less well off is in my opinion a question that different communities can answer differently without doing violation to Church teaching. I wouldn't want to live in a country where government routinely interferred with markets in order to reduce the suffering caused by change, but I certainly wouldn't charecterize such a society as inimical to Catholicism as long as basic private property concepts survive.

Jeb Protestant

The story mentions various "Christian denominations," including the Catholic Church. But according to Rome, the Catholic church is the true church and not a "denomination." Shouldn't the author be reprimanded?

Some Day

As much as government should not have to do these things, it is the lesser of two evils.
If it weren't for the evils of industrialism, than you would not have these problems.

I much rather have small farmers still existing, because when the time comes, there are always farmers fighting in counterrevolutions, and one day we Catholics might need them.

Esau

I much rather have small farmers still existing, because when the time comes, there are always farmers fighting in counterrevolutions, and one day we Catholics might need them.


Some Day,

Were you serious when you said this???

I apologize, but I started laughing my head off, imagining farmers battling terrorists with their pitch forks and such in their overalls, saving the day.

Esau

Mike Petrik:

For example, if we increase the tax on returns from savings, will people save more or save less?

Would you include Capital Gains tax in that regard?


Case in point -- generous welfare programs certainly have encouraged people to forego othewise responsible behavior.

Agreed. Personally I believe there is more damage done (especially to middle and low income earners) when our purpose is creating a welfare state.

Foxfier

I apologize, but I started laughing my head off, imagining farmers battling terrorists with their pitch forks and such in their overalls, saving the day.
Hehe, Esau, Seen the modern pitchforks?
http://www.fleming-agri.co.uk/Images/Products/Universal%20Bale%20Spike.JPG

My mom made one with three tongs, about four foot long, and she used it to pick up a junk car once.... Went through the sides like butter. *grin*

(She also has an XM radio cradle installed in her main tractor, and in dad's calving pickup.)

Foxfier

Agreed. Personally I believe there is more damage done (especially to middle and low income earners) when our purpose is creating a welfare state.

Very true. Folks 'round here tend to prefer a part-time job and government help to a full-time job that's rather hard work. My folks have a heck of a time getting decent help. (It's kind of like the military, but worse benefits, no travel and less getting shot at.)

Mike Petrik

"Would you include Capital Gains tax in that regard?"

Sure, at least in principle. At least theoretically increasing the tax on capital gains could either increase investment or decrease investment depending on how one believes investors would respond.

But you are probably suggesting a related point having to do with the so-called lock in effect. In a tax-free marketplace investors would freely seek the best returns by selling assets that they anticipate will generate returns that are less at the margin than other available investment opportunities so that they can purchase those latter investments. Capital gain taxes present a toll charge on doing so thereby accidentally incenting investors to hold assets longer -- i.e., until they identify an investment opportunity that is sufficiently superior to justify the transaction cost (i.e., the tax). This is one reason the taxation of gains from capital is so interesting for economists and tax policy experts. Indeed, it has been hypothesized, with some evidence, that lowering the rate of tax on capital gains actually increases revenue since investors are more willing to sell assets and thereby recognize a gain that can be taxed. As in other circumstances, the details matter, such as the degree of rate change and weighing long-term versus short-term considerations.
Aside from the lockin effect, taxing capital gains at a lesser rate than ordinary income can be theoretically justified by the notion that some of the gain is undoubtedly phantom inflation gain. But critics of this point out that investors, on the other hand, benefit by deferral -- i.e., their income is not taxed as it is accrued but only when it is realized in a sale. Also, disparate rates create an entire industry of tax professionals who specialize in figuring our ways to produce income that can be considered capital rather than ordinary. The bottom line is that there are competing considerations.
On balance, I favor somewhat lower capital gain rates because I think our income tax system already is biased in favaor of consumption and against savings -- but that is for another discussion.

Juli

Come now, how can any advocate cutting off money to Ted Turner, since he is subsidized for bison ranching. How could someone take money out of that poor man's pocket?!? /exasperated sarcasm

Mary

Why I think farm subsidies can be justified:

Zimbabwe

Where, as you may remember, they threw white farmers off their farms in the middle of the growing season when their crops needed constant tending, and Zimbabwe was in the middle of a famine.

Or consider Great Britain during WWI. They had become so dependent on US food that the submarine warfare meant considerable hardship. (Tolkien, writing to his son, told him to consider his mother's hardships -- that she had been pregnant during the "submarine summer.")

Independance of this kind can't be bought at any price. We have to be able to tell other countries that they can go to blazes without knowing that our fellow citizens will starve for it.

Foxfier

Wait... Zimbabwe is racist and stupid, so we need to give farmers money?

Barring the government being stupid-- which is a rather big if, I admit-- our food source is fine. Get the environmentalists out of the way, or at least reasonably restrained, and we're doing good--outstanding, even. (I can't listen to that stupid song... "don't care about spots on my apples, leave me the birds and the bees"--- oh, please.)

Some Day

I was pretty serious.
I did not mean just terrorists...

I mean that when Catholics are openly (because they silently already) persecuted and it is a crime to be a moral Catholic, people less attatched this revolutionary world might rise in defense.

Look at France...

Yates

Jimmy--I think you should look more into Distributionsim and Social Credit. I like your website and blog a lot. However, I think you give too much credence to general US conservative and so called neo-con thought in the political and economic sense and equate it to Catholicism. There are some good other interesting websites and discussions on Social Credit, Distributionism and Catholic economic and social theory.

Foxfier

Er... Yates, from the Wiki, that Social Credit thing looks like Socialism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Credit
Which doesn't work, and has killed a lot of folks-- not the least of which are a whole lot of the Catholics you seem to think should support it. It totally ignores human nature. (IE, some folks work because they should; most folks work because they must.)

While I do admit that Catholicism has an example of one of the few functional forms of communism-- IE, monasteries-- those are things that are chosen by those involved, and can sort through those who apply. It hasn't worked with folks who are forced to use it, and I doubt it ever will. When you remove profit from effort, you remove the motivation for effort.

rd

My co-workers who are Chinese won't even eat food imported from China.

Agriculture in the U.S. has to be protected and preserved. It doesn't have to be via the traditional family farm, so there must be some alternatives to subsidies. Maybe apply higher tariffs on imports? Maybe Americans can be taught to sacrifice a few extra $$ they'd earmarked toward their McMansions and to redirect that money towards buying higher-priced, but home-grown, food.

Steve

While you're wiping out subsidies, could you please deregulate farming? Many farmers would like to be able to network within their community, selling a variety of products to their community, produced by their community... They would like to sell my milk & meat to their eager neighbors, without having to invest 3/4 million $$ in superfluous "safety" equipment designed for mass-producers, retail store fronts, parking lots, bathroom facilities, handicap access, etc. - which federal and state law says they need to do - and in lawyers to change the zoning laws which say they can't do that in areas zoned for farming. Some farmers would like to hire neighborhood kids, but for "pro-child" child labor laws that say it's abuse and dangerous to allow a teenager to work hard, dig post holes or operate an electric drill. Some would like to encourage folks to enjoy the farm animals and countryside - but then they're either encouraging a "biohazard" by encouraging the contact of humans - all of which are considered contaminated, or becoming part of the "entertainment" industry. Other big no no's for farms in the eyes of the freedom lovin govmint.

End subsidies? Sure. Conversely, allow people to make basic choices about what kind of food they want to eat, where they obtain their food, and to invest within their own communities without stupid, big-dollar agri-business-only serving government dictates.

JoeyG

Esau,

To clarify my comments before. My point was actually made in admiration of small business, of which I am in favor over the large corporations that have taken over our economy. But my point was that to change the system from the way things are currently, we (as consumers) might need to change our perspectives a bit if we want small businesses to thrive. We must be willing to pay slightly higher prices for vastly superior products made with greater attention and care. Yet, as much of a no-brainer as this decision seems (to me), many in our culture are too much caught up in the instant gratification and cheap retail that mega-corps provide through expensive technologies and "specialization" of talents.

I'll take the small-town business any day over the alternative, but I'm willing to accept that I might have to pay more for it, and I'd rather pay even more still than have the government subsidizing (which only exacerbates spending across the board in the end).

Mike Petrik

I pretty much agree with your preferences, JoeyG, but we must keep in perspective that that is what they are -- preferences. If other people find inferior products at reduced prices a better value, that is their choice too. I'm all for advocacy and education in an effort to persuade people to alter their preferences -- I just don't want government coercion or meddling. And in that respect, I agree with Steve.

Mumon
the government should not be in the business of funding family traditions at taxpayer expense


Uh, ya got a mortgage?



And it should have subsidized all of the old radio networks once television came along.

And it should have subsidized Hollywood studios once television came along.

Did ya hear about the Digital Millenium Copyright Act?

The Newspapers are moving on...but...

And it should similarly subsidize everyone in every occupation so that they can maintain their traditional way of life when a new and better means of doing the same thing comes along.

Earth to conservative: Of COURSE the government should "subsidize" everyone in every occupation so we can maintain at least the "traditional" way of having a living standard!

The VERY PURPOSE of government is to create an organizatio, the state, to handle protect our life, liberty and property AND TO PROMOTE THE GENERAL WELFARE.

This is why conservatives and religion don't mix. If they can't get a little itty bitty bit of stuff like this right,...


Kate

I don't have time to read all the comments, but I wanted to respond to a couple of Jimmy's assumptions.

1) Currently, the subsidies mostly go to large agri-business and large scale farms. Because they control the lobby.

2) Subsidies were originally introduced to protect the valuable resource of farms from the vicissitudes of the weather and the market, to ensure that vital food resources continue to be available. This is important for the stability of the nation and for the future elasticity of our response to emergencies - should disaster hurt the food supply from overseas, or war cut us off in some way. All this is good sense, and this sort of need-response subsidizing should continue, as it does primarily protect smaller farms that conserve land for future generations and provide a social grounding for rural culture.

3) IMO, large scale farms, which have already sold out to a market culture, should lose all subsidies. They contribute nothing culturally, they farm recklessly without consideration for the long term health of the soil or the population, and they are large enough to absorb the vicissitudes of the weather and market without taxpayer money. Had the government and banks not become infatuated with these beasts and farming technology in the 50's they would never have bloated to the size they are now.

4) Farming, because of it's integral role in providing food, and thus life, can never be 'obselete'. Urging that more farmers abandon the countryside for other lines of work merely lays the way for future (and perhaps only in your grandchildren's future) famine.

5) There are other ways to support farms other than subsidies.

I grew up on a family farm in rural Ontario. My dad was a dairy farmer in the Ontario system, which is basically a co-operative that operates, with government support and supervision, to set prices for milk products in Ontario, and set the cost of 'quota', which controls the amount of milk on the market. Dairy farmers buy 'quota', the amount of which determines the amount of milk they can sell for profit. Any milk produced past that point can only be sold at cost. A farmer may, at any time, expand his operation by buying more quota, if quota is available. When a farmer retires, as my father did, he sells his quota - an investment that had only risen in value over the history of the system, making it possible to retire at a reasonable age (My dad retired early, at 50). Our farm of 100 head supported two families. More importantly to the discussion at hand, the dairy industry in Ontario doesn't require tax-payer money to stay viable, except inasmuch as milk costs a marginal amount more (a dime or so) than it does in the US. Actually, considering the exchange rate, it may be cost-equivalent.

Something to think about.

Kate

Steve's comment reminds me of something that happened to one of my inlaws this year. She's a bit crunchy, and prefers whole unpasteurised milk. She joined a co-operative that got around laws against selling unpasteurised milk by selling 'cow shares' instead. The owners of the 'cow shares' would then have legal right to partake of the cow's milk any way they wished.

Well, imagine a bunch of crunchy, free market types (because, after all, this is an attempt to operate a free market) waiting in an alley near a local store for the weekly milk delivery. It never comes. They find out later that the state government ran a sting operation!!!! on an organic dairy!!! A state agent had been working undercover as a consumer of the milk in order to gather evidence that - gasp- unpasteurized milk was being freely sold. God forbid anyone sells their own product directly to educated and willing consumers!

This was in Michigan...whose state police have, I am sure, better things to worry about.

Steve

Kate, so typical.

If farmers could participate in the *free* market, there would be no need for subsidies.

For farmers, there is no free market. It's a myth.

Foxfier

Kate- in Washington, some stores sell raw milk.

I hope and pray that nobody gets killed by it-- there's a reason Louie got an award for Pasteurization and not for the rabies vaccine.

Elijah

I've been drinking raw milk for years, having gotten around the law in the manner described by Kate. Where I live it isn't so much the police that are after the farmers that provide the milk, it's the big, nasty, steroid and anti-biotic-pumping farms that do everything they can to call attention to the organic farmers and get them in trouble.

Tim J.

"End subsidies? Sure. Conversely, allow people to make basic choices about what kind of food they want to eat, where they obtain their food, and to invest within their own communities"

Amen to that. The gub'ment just has their noses in too far at both ends. Government regulation makes it near impossible to make a living as a small farmer, and so the government comes to the rescue with subsidies, which drive down prices, making it harder to make a living... ad nauseum.

I was wondering when someone would mention distributism. It's a fine idea - really! the only question is how to implement the thing. Seems to me it would have to come from a broad grass-roots effort to have any prayer of really working, otherwise what you end up with is another bureaucratically imposed system, which ends in absurd laws and restrictions.

Frank Brown

The Free market is not so free.
The principle of easy access is not present.
The Free Market stuff sounds nice in theory.

I used to be a big free market, very pro GWB, pro Iraq--I went to the University of Chicago, met Milton Friedman's son David, read all the Robert Genetski Phd, Friedman etc--and still believe there is a lot to it
BUT life and the US economy are much more nuanced, complicated, and real people get hurt not because they could not compete (or at least not alone) As I converted to Catholicsm and learned more about Catholic economic and social teaching as defined by the Popes and inspired and guided by the Gospel--the so called Free Market approach at least dileneated by Friedman is not perfect let alone ideal.

I have a formal background in Economics and met some of the biggest proponents of the less government regulation philosophy.

Esau

I just don't want government coercion or meddling.


Mike Petrik:
So, with respect to "government meddling", does that mean you don't necessarily endorse Keynesian economics?

Cajun Nick

I've been hoping that Jimmy would tackle distributism as a topic for the blog.

It is a strange thing, but recently (since the beginning of the year), I've encountered more and more instances where this topic has come up.

From what I understand of it, I like it quite a lot. I really do believe that, with the immense globalization of our economies & the filtering of many small businesses into just a few SUPER large corporations, we don't have a really free market. Distributionism seems to be an answer to that.

I've tried to do some research on my own; but given my inability to properly grasp what I've read, I don't think that I quite "get it".

However, I know that Jimmy would do a wonderful job of explaining what it is.

Mike Petrik

Cajun Nick,
The reason you don't get it is because it is pretty ambiguous stuff. Basically, it describes not so much a system but an ideal outcome. In short, it would be capitalism without concentrations of wealth or capacities to produce or consume. Some modern advocates also ladle on the concepts of job and industry protection, though it isn't clear to me that this was the focus of Chesterton et al. Its advocates have never, as far as I know, articulated (a) how exactly one arrives at such an outcome and (b) how exactly such an outcome can be maintained. Most people assume a lot of government control would be required. Businesses would be allowed to be successful, of course, but not too successful; and consumers would be told what to consume in order to keep maintain the outcome equilibrium. The legitimate economists who have examined distributivism have mostly concluded it is somewhat of a romantic ideal, but not really an economic system as such.
Ultimately, the system seems to be grounded in two concerns: (i) a recognition that the changes wrought by private decisions in the market can hurt people and (ii) a belief that markets inevitably lead to concentrations of economic power. Actual history suggests that the pain that accompanies free market processes is very real but is necessary for progress. And there have always been ebbs and flows of concentration, but history demonstrates that the composition of such concentrations is in each case remarkably fleeting. Compare today's Fortune top 30 with that of 20 years ago, and 30 years ago, and 40 years ago -- very instructive actually.
The ultimate moral problem with the type of market interference resumably required under distributivism is that serves the needs of the haves by insulating them from the pressures of the want-to-haves. It is based on the idea, subconsciously I suppose, that the subjective pain caused by an existing producer being displaced from his position is less than that of a new producer being denied a position, and that therefore the reduction in ineffiency caused by denying the new producer is a social price worth paying in order to minimize subjective pain. In my opinion there is no moral basis for this -- only the understandable impulse to sympathise with people who are hurt by free markets.
But I could be wrong. It has been many years since I studied distributivism.

Cajun Nick

Mike Petrik,

Thanks for responding. I'll need to re-read your post (I usually have to look at things a couple of times) to be sure I understand what you're saying.

Its advocates have never, as far as I know, articulated (a) how exactly one arrives at such an outcome and (b) how exactly such an outcome can be maintained.

This quote of yours, by the way, precisely formulates the problem I've been grappling with. I just can't see how the darned thing would work.

Mike Petrik

Esau,
You would be correct, at least for the most part. To the extent Keynesianism is identified with the promotion of fiscal policy (government spending decisions) in order to correct the business cycle, I think that experience demonstrates that the tool, while theoretically sound due to the so-called multiplier effect, is impractical -- mostly due to politics and timing. To the extent the term is associated with the so-called "mixed economy," I plead ambivalence. In my opinion there is a role for government in acting as a limited social insurer to cushion against the sometimes painful human costs of a dynamic free market. As I recall that is all that Keynes technically advocated on that score. But the term "mixed economy," though associated with Keynes, is sometimes used to describe an economy whose winners and losers are influenced or determined by government. I think such a system is a recipe for economic stagflation and limited opportunity.
All that said, most economists concede that Keynes was a gifted economist even though some of his ideas have been discredited in part. In particular, Keynes was trying to understand how the free market could lead to the great depression, and probably reached some faulty conclusions having to do with his overlooking the critical roles played by poor government monetary policy (inept or no effort to maintain a stable money supply) and trade policy (i.e., the newly created and increased tariffs).
Caveat: this post is based on one fellow's imperfect memory.

Jarnor23

For much the same reason that we gave financial incentives to marry (although we seem to be hell-bent on giving those now to any two, or three, or ten "beings" that want to claim it) we need to give financial incentives to the family farm. Screw the big guys, but the family farm has been a bastion of morals and basic sanity in this country for years while the fast paced cities rush towards damnation. The heartland of this nation still has largely good decent folks who believe in a Godly way of life. Given that the "free market" is not free for them and doesn't allow them to compete with mega-agri-business well, something should be done, if not subsidies than something else.

And as much as I hate to agree with Some Day, he's right about the farmers, historically speaking anyway. They serve a purpose envisioned also under the Second Amendment - that if our country becomes too rotten, the people have the right and duty to reform their government to serve their needs.

Mike Petrik

In my opinion the notion that family farmers are somehow special and deserve special treatment by the government is grounded in romantic nonsense that cannot be backed up by emperical evidence. There are good and bad people in all walks of life. Family farms are no more bastions of virtue than family restaurants or families raised by Teamsters or families raised by CEOs. Folks tend to canonize and vilify based on caricatures rather than reality in my experience.

c matt

While we are ending farm subsidies, lets also end corporate bailouts, another form of subsidy.

Mike Petrik

I agree with you c matt, at least as a general rule. There may occasionally be sound reasons for a bailout, these are pretty unusual. That said, I think most bailouts involve federal loans that are eventually repaid, and shareholders almost always get nothing in the bargain since the corporation is reoganized. In addition to the employees (which explains the politics given the # of votes), it is the lenders who win insomuch as while their loan repayments are partial at best, they usually receive stock in a company that has been reorganized in a way for it to survive profitably. Also, I honestly don't think these bailouts are that common. A community has to lobby pretty hard for one of its corporate employers to get federal assistance, and they only do this if it is an awfully big employer. The political motivation is more to secure votes by pleasing employees than to assist investors or lenders. A big employer is in a much better position to secure assistance than a small employer -- no matter how large the company might otherwise be in terms of revenues, assets, debt, etc.

Jarnor23

Well Mike, having lived in farming areas and also in big cities, I think you're dead wrong.

Jarnor23

About the farming family being a source of decency that is. City life really seems to jade people to Godly ways, and being tied to the land in a family setting tends to build Godly ways is what I've seen. Exceptions on both sides obviously.

Mike Petrik

Well, I certainly have never lived on a farm, but I lived in rural Illinois for years, and my brother-in-law is a farmer. I grew up in Chicago and now live in Atlanta. Never saw street gangs in rural Illinois. Never saw dog fights in Chicago or Atlanta. Definitely more racism in rural Illinois, but more sexual license in the cities. The former seemed to generate arrogance, but the latter was more comfortable with ignorance. Overall, didn't see much difference in human nature actually. But I accept that your experience was different, Jarnor23.

Jonathan

I'm wondering if there is anyone out there familiar with Heinrich Pesch? I've read a little about him and his criticisms of both communism and capitalism, but I'd like to know what people think of him (especially the economists out there)...

Mike Petrik

Never heard of him. I'm fairly certain that he is not part of the canon in the economics acadamy, undergraduate or post-graduate. That is not to say he should not be.

M.Z. Forrest

I'm wondering if there is anyone out there familiar with Heinrich Pesch?

When I have $800-$1600, my roof replaced, house resided, boiler upgraded, and windows replaced, I'm looking to buy his big work. For more information on him see this NOR article:
http://www.newoxfordreview.org/reviews.jsp?did=0205-storck

Mary

The VERY PURPOSE of government is to create an organizatio, the state, to handle protect our life, liberty and property AND TO PROMOTE THE GENERAL WELFARE.

The general welfare is the benefit of society, not of individuals in it. A benefit that does not benefit society ought to go.

labrialumn

If you end the subsidies, you have to also end the price controls that are also part of the government's cheap food policy, designed to re-elect incumbants.

No more laws on how farmers can farm. No more calling slightly moist soil, wetlands, limit the Army Corps of Engineers to actually navigable waterways. Break up the monopolies that drive down the prices that farmers get for their crops and livestock (a tiny percentage of what you actually pay for food).


Don't destroy Jefferson's yeoman farmer in the name of the bottom line and ideological purity to economic ideas that didn't exist in 1789.

Stef

Instead of boosting the small farm with a subsidy, why not hit the corporate farm with fair law? For example, it still stuns me that the corporation has the rights of an individual under the constitution without any of the responsibilities. Rights without responsibilities? That gives life to a behemoth that has market shares instead of a conscience. Huge food companies (multinationals that provide you with your homegrown beef as well as your made-in China toothpaste) have no corporate loyalty to America, the consumer, or the tradition that makes a nation great. I'm no communist (God forbid) but life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness used to have a lot more roomn for small business and honest-to-goodness entrepeneurial spirit.

So I see the death of the small farm in a different way: I see small business being edged out by huge multinationals (I know, there are also larger landholders) who don't mind gaining their edge in business by hiring out their labour to impoverished countries. That's globalization, free trade, whatever you want to call it. And America is going to have to face it. So, I agree that subsidies aren't the best idea. But then again, the whole corporate structure of big business is based on an unfair principle that amounts to a sort of legal subsidy: giving the rights of a citizen under the Constitution to a corporate non-human entity.

labrialumn

Stef, that would be better, including breaking up the monopolies on the supply chain so that the farmers actually have a free market to sell to, which they essentially don't. Eliminate such entities as the Chicago Board of Trade, so prices are determined by market forces and not speculation, and eliminate the death tax and the property tax, so that the family farmer could at the least subsist, and pass on to his children the fruit of his labor, in keeping with Mosaic law.

Alex

Jimmy

You don't get it. Food is a basic security. See Maslow's heiarchy of needs. Allowing free markets to determine where we get our food, such as third world countries which don't regulate their food they way we do etc. What about economic collapses? Is it smart to not have a localized food source in those instances? Do you think the farming business is something that can "Flex" with market demands? We have the cheapest food in the world in the U.S complaining about it is silly. There are 5 companies that control the world food supply. Go after them..they uses to be called monopolies/ologopolies they are the ones that absorb most of the value/benefit in the food supply chain. Not Farmers...Farmers are production people and do not control the markets the way these companies do. Think about it. You want to end subsidies? Let's start with something that is truly damaging say the public school system. Currently our children are being indoctrinated by philosophy/theology disguising itself as Science (Darwinian Evolution/Scientific Materialism...and no I'm not a biblical literalist I just know that tree bark, earth worms, blue whales, chipmunks, peat moss, and goats are not my brothers and sisters from our great father, primordial slime, in which we all the sum parts of some kind of purposeless process that magically developed intelligence) In addition the education of children in the social sciences to accept as dogmas of homosexuality is normal, abortion is acceptable choice, you can not pray in schools, etc is completely hostile to most mainstream religions and pits children against their parents. Privitize schools first from highschool through university system....you can attack the food supply problem when you get rid of the non-necessities first.

Alex

Jimmy

You don't get it. Food is a basic security. See Maslow's heiarchy of needs. Allowing free markets to determine where we get our food, such as third world countries which don't regulate their food they way we do etc. What about economic collapses? Is it smart to not have a localized food source in those instances? Do you think the farming business is something that can "Flex" with market demands? We have the cheapest food in the world in the U.S complaining about it is silly. There are 5 companies that control the world food supply. Go after them..they uses to be called monopolies/ologopolies they are the ones that absorb most of the value/benefit in the food supply chain. Not Farmers...Farmers are production people and do not control the markets the way these companies do. Think about it. You want to end subsidies? Let's start with something that is truly damaging say the public school system. Currently our children are being indoctrinated by philosophy/theology disguising itself as Science (Darwinian Evolution/Scientific Materialism...and no I'm not a biblical literalist I just know that tree bark, earth worms, blue whales, chipmunks, peat moss, and goats are not my brothers and sisters from our great father, primordial slime, in which we all the sum parts of some kind of purposeless process that magically developed intelligence) In addition the education of children in the social sciences to accept as dogmas of homosexuality is normal, abortion is acceptable choice, you can not pray in schools, etc is completely hostile to most mainstream religions and pits children against their parents. Privitize schools first from highschool through university system....you can attack the food supply problem when you get rid of the non-necessities first.

Jarnor23

Some days I wish I could virtually start one of those "slow clap" moments in movies for real. You know, where one person starts clapping slowly, others join in, and then it becomes a huge round of applause for the hero.

You get one of those, Alex. :)

Jon W

I don't understand why regulation of a business can't be more strictly correlated with revenue. It seems to me that this should be a standard principle of economic policy in any country. After all, isn't it the bigger businesses who are less responsive to ordinary market forces that would drive a smaller vendor out of business for bad practices (witness American Airlines's treatment of Mark Shea and his luggage)? The bigger you are and the more powerful, the more the society as a whole (by means of the government) needs to apply pressure to keep you honest.

carlos

Without question, government subsidies usually cause more problems than they solve. The very notion of a subsidy exists because a firm or firms are not as efficient as the free market. A timely example: government money spent on embryonic stem cell research. If firms engaged in such research were efficient in finding medical therapies from embryonic stem cells (and to date, none have been found), then they would not need government subsidies.

That being said, I agree with those who mention national security as a reason for subsidizing crop production. Indeed, that may be the sole reason for such subsidies; a nation's food supply determines its ability to withstand siege. The problem, of course, becomes that many industries attempt to obtain protection from the government by claiming that their products are also indispensable for national security purposes.

NaturalCatholicMama

Haven't read all the responses, but while I'm a firm believer in less govt. intervention in our lives, the subsidies I'd get rid of first are the ones that subsidize Big Ag. Why are taxpayers paying to hyper-insulated manure lagoons (to keep them from poisoning the land around, a la last year's spinach nightmare from nearby beef factory farms), when removing such financial help would make it more clear to farmers that ecological methods actually generate more profit?

According to Nina Planck, "grass farming" (raising grass, which feeds cows and is fertilized by chickens (who spread the cow manure)) produces far healthier beef and chicken and is actually more profitable when you take out the taxpayer funding of the manure lagoons and add in the cost of the continuous antibiotics, rapidly-rising-in-cost corn & soy feed, and all the other costs of raising cows outside of their normal environment.

Family farms aren't just a nice old tradition, they (often) are a rare example of being good stewards of the gifts God gave us for our sustenance on this earth (whether plant or animal).

Tim J.

Good points, NCM. God made cows to eat grass and poop fertilizer, but man always thinks he has a better idea... some kind of cow-growing machine, that's the ticket.

Feh. Natural beef is available in most natural food stores. Cows that actually get to, you know, walk around and graze.

There are some almost irresistable parallels to public schooling in here, too.

Cajun Nick

All this talk about cows eating grass and natural beef reminds me of a story I heard on a program on NPR (I don't remember the whole thing; it's been a couple of years):

It was about some guy who bought a calf at a stockyard and had it raised for him until it was good and ready to become steak.

Along the way, he discovered the ins-and-outs of raising cattle, including how the cows had to be pumped full of antibiotics to prevent illnesses from digesting the cornfeed.

According to the report, cows' digestive systems are meant to eat grass, and feeding them otherwise makes them sick. In turn, we get beef that's full of (antibodies, harmones, etc.).

I love a good steak, but I had after I heard the story, I couldn't take a bite of beef without thinking of it.

But, I soon put it (and the health risks) out of my head, and now enjoy the steak (ignorantly) worry-free. (In that way, Tim J., it kinda reminds me of that "white death" that you and I like to put in our coffee.)

Tim J.

Long live the "White Death"!

There ARE some things I just don't have time to worry about.

Steve

Cajun Nick,

You're thinking of Michael Pollan. The article which that NPR program was based on is here:

http://www.ce.cmu.edu/~gdrg/Readings/2006/06/06/Pollan_ThisSteersLife.pdf

He recently came out with a great book, "The Omnivore's Dilemma." An excellent and informative read.

arizcalflalaw

I agree with Jimmy on this one. In the United States, the cost of sugar is far more than what it is in other parts of the world.

The biggest distorting effect of food subsidies:

When government props up the price beyond what the market will pay, the farmers will produce more. The government then has to buy it. So what does the government do with it? They cannot put it back on the market, as that would lower the price, and defeat the idea of the subsidy. So they just throw it away or destroy it. Now that that is efficient stewardship of God's resources, isn't it?

Cajun Nick

Steve,

Thanks for the link and book title.

It's one more (of dozens - tens of dozens!) that I'd love to have time to read. But college football and the New Orleans Saints are starting up soon; so, the public library won't see me for a while. :)

NaturalCatholicMama

There's Laura's Lean Beef and some other brands of grass-fed beef and pastured chicken at Kroger, Trader Joe's, and some other main grocery stores, too. I've been getting my chicken and eggs from a local family farmer, and there's no beating it for taste and vitamin/mineral content. Natural law wins out again. And subsidiarity!

As for the white death, taste real cream straight from a cow - there's no going back. I just bought a gallon from my farmer today. Mmmmmmmm.......

www.realmilk.com

Tim J.

I love real cream...

I just don't mind the fake creamer that much, either.

Basically, if it's diluted in a cup of strong coffee, I'm not that picky. It's the coffee that I'm after... all the other stuff is window dressing, AFAIC, which is why Starbucks does not interest me overmuch.

I just am not that concerned that Coffee Mate is going to make me grow a third eye or drop dead at 60.

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