The Food Nazi–or is that Fascist?–Wants the Government to Pick Winners and Losers

By , March 2, 2011 12:34 pm

Elites. Can’t help themselves. Mark Bittman is at it again. If the government gets something wrong–defined as, something Bittman doesn’t like–well give ’em another bite at the organically grown apple:

Agricultural subsidies have helped bring us high-fructose corn syrup, factory farming, fast food, a two-soda-a-day habit and its accompanying obesity, the near-demise of family farms, monoculture and a host of other ills.

Yet — like so many government programs — what subsidies need is not the ax, but reform that moves them forward. Imagine support designed to encourage a resurgence of small- and medium-size farms producing not corn syrup and animal-feed but food we can touch, see, buy and eat — like apples and carrots — while diminishing handouts to agribusiness and its political cronies.

I really don’t have time to Fisk the entire article, so here is one more clip, and I’m off:

Thus even House Speaker Boehner calls the bill a “slush fund”; the powerful Iowa Farm Bureau suggests that direct payments end; and Glenn Beck is on the bandwagon. (This last should make you suspicious.) Not surprisingly, many Tea Partiers happily accept subsidies, including Vicky Hartzler (R-MO, $775,000), Stephen Fincher (R-TN, $2.5 million) and Michele Bachmann (R-MN $250,000). No hypocrisy there.

Left and right can perhaps agree that these are payments we don’t need to make. But suppose we use this money to steer our agriculture — and our health — in the right direction. A Gallup poll indicates that most Americans oppose cutting aid to farmers, and presumably they’re not including David Rockefeller or Michele Bachmann in that protected group; we still think of farmers as stewards of the land, and the closer that sentiment is to reality the better off we’ll be.

By making the program more sensible the money could benefit us all.

Apparently playing to his audience, Bittman takes unrelated cheap shots at the usual right-wing suspects, appears to agree that farm subsidies are subsidies we should end, but then makes one final pitch–if we just make the program more sensible.

Yeah, like that will happen. As Bittman reported about New Deal farm programs a few paragaphs above the last quote,

That wasn’t the plan, of course. In the 1930s, prices were fixed on a variety of commodities, and some farmers were paid to reduce their crop yields. The program was supported by a tax on processors of food — now there’s a precedent! — and was intended to be temporary. It worked, sort of: prices rose and more farmers survived. But land became concentrated in the hands of fewer farmers, and agribusiness was born, and along with it the sad joke that the government paid farmers for not growing crops.

And this time it will be better because a new, smarter group of elites is in charge? Of course.

Bittman should take up selling the Brooklyn Bridge.

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