Farmers on welfare

It is good to see some American voices speaking out against farm subsidies.  Here is Jonah Goldberg in today's Los Angeles Times:

There are few issues for which the political consensus is so distant from both common sense and expert opinion. Right-wing economists,left-wing environmentalists and almost anybody in-between who doesn't receive a check from the Department of Agriculture or depend on apolitical donation from said recipients understand that Americans are spending billions to prop up the last of the horse-and-buggy industries. …

Subsidies combined with trade barriers (another term for subsidy) prop up the price of food for consumers at home and hurt farmers abroad. This is repugnant because agriculture is a keystone industry for developing nations and a luxury for developed ones. This keeps Third World nations impoverished, economically dependent and politically unstable. Our farm subsidies alone — forget trade barriers — cost developing countries $24 billion every year, according to the National Center for Policy Analysis. Letting poor nations prosper would be worth a lot more than the equivalent amount in foreign aid. But Big Agriculture likes foreign aid because it allows for the dumping of wheat and other crops on the world market, which perpetuates the cycle of dependency.

For an alternative view, see Daniel Davies's contribution at Comment is Free – and make sure you read the interesting discussion in the comments.

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