Damn Those Tricksy Republicans With Their Hate and Their Crop Subsidies!

One of Andrew's readers writes:

There is a portion of the Republican base in the Plains states that believe not all Americans are entitled to health care, but all farmers are entitled to payments from the federal government for crops to be grown that nobody actually needs.  If a spending freeze means more cuts like the ones proposed here, I'm all for it.

One would think that there were no Democrats on the Senate Agricultural committee--or, for that matter, no Democrats from Nebraska, North Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, and so on.

Would that it were so . . . we might have a shot at killing off farm subsidies.  Sadly, not the case.  George Bush I tried to trim back farm subsidies.  Bill Clinton "ended" them.  Next decade, George Bush II also made a run at killing them off.  Obama's freeze will founder on the same two problems:  farm states wield disproportionate, bipartisan power in the Senate, and Americans think that farmers are really, really cute.  In the American mind, all farms are run by the Ingalls family who skip around solving the problems of the townsfolk between picturesque striding through waving rows of corn.  In truth, they're rather more apt to be high-tech sharecroppers for Cargill and ADM, but we can't shake the image.

It is true that there is a portion of the GOP base that believes that farm subsidies are sacred, but this is hardly limited to the plains states--which is why I avoid discussing milk price supports with the fine folks of western New York's dairy country.  Nor is it limited to Republicans, which is why I wouldn't discuss milk price supports with Patrick Leahy, either.  Farm subsidies are going to be with us until our robot overlords decide to dispense with these inefficient and outmoded means of productions.

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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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