Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review June 1, 2000 /27 Iyar, 5760

Michelle Malkin

JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Arianna Huffington
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Debbie Schlussel
Sam Schulman
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Farming out the pork -- SLOP, SLOP, SLOP. Oink, oink, oink. Sooooooiee!

Those are the hog-heavenly sounds that reverberated last week from the halls of Congress, where a $15.3 billion farm aid bill passed overwhelmingly in both the House and Senate. It's a bipartisan spending boondoggle, special-interest payoff, and corporate welfare restoration act all rolled into one grease-slicked, lip-smacking package.

The legislation provides assistance to farmers who are purportedly poor and financially distressed by declining commodity prices, bad weather and shrinking overseas markets. More than $8 billion will be poured into the Federal Crop Insurance Program, which generously picks up more than half the tab for farmers' insurance premiums. Another $5.5 billion in direct payments will be sent to grain and cotton farmers this fall just in time to reap votes during the 2000 election season.

And here a billion, there a billion was earmarked at the last minute for a bumper crop of "emergency" spending on congressional leaders' pet district projects.

Old MacDonald may be a nice guy, but there's no more good reason for taxpayers to subsidize his business's insurance than there is for the government to underwrite yours or mine. Yeah, bad weather is a bummer. But why should farmers get cheaper insurance rates in addition to annual bailouts -- when disasters strike, and not all the other entrepreneurs who suffer from Mother Nature's whims, too?

Government audits and press investigations have exposed countless examples of fraud and abuse in the Federal Crop Insurance Program. Scam artists in overalls bilk the system by planting crops they know will die. A few years ago, the Wall Street Journal shed light on peanut and cotton farmers in Georgia who found that if they planted squash late in the growing season, frost would kill the squash and they could claim crop failures. Another infamous example cited by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch involved safflower farmers in Fresno, Kings and Tulare counties in California, who bought crop insurance on 150,000 acres of parched land. The crop was guaranteed to fail; the farmers claimed losses worth $15 million. The feds obligingly paid up.

To make matters worse, the General Accounting Office found that federal authorities allow some farmers to purchase crop insurance more than three months after planting crops. Imagine being able to buy government- subsidized auto insurance 90 days after you've crashed your car or homeowners' insurance after your house has burned down in a fire. Instead of reforming the insurance program, however, Congress is extending it to cover livestock producers and expanding coverage for fruit and vegetable growers.

As in years past, the direct aid payments are sent out without regard to financial need. More than half of the $23 billion in agricultural aid spent between 1996 and 1998 went to landowners comprising the top 10 percent of American farms. It isn't destitute denizens from the heartland who are getting help. It's corporate freeloaders and wealthy recreationalists who benefit most from this bill.

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) personally requested $14 million that was included for an ethanol research plant. Ethanol, of course, is the corn-derived fuel produced primarily by food conglomerate Archer Daniels Midland and propped up by the government to the tune of billions of dollars. Then there's the restoration of federal subsidies to mohair and wool farmers, championed by Dem. Rep. Charlie Stenholm and GOP Rep. Henry Bonilla of Texas. When these World War II-era entitlements were axed during the glory days of the Republican Revolution, it was a proud moment for fiscal conservatives. Now the handouts are back and bigger than ever.

And who profits? Multi-millionaires like ABC News celebrity "farmer" Sam Donaldson, whose goat and sheep ranches in New Mexico have reaped nearly $100,000 in farm welfare.

The "Freedom to Farm" bill passed by the GOP majority in 1996 was supposed to drain the federal trough of wasteful agricultural subsidies, socialist price supports, and commodity programs. But the porkbusters turned soft when deep-pocketed farm interests came back to the Beltway, snorting and hoofing to get back on the dole. Only four senators -- Republicans Jon Kyl of Arizona, Connie Mack of Florida, John McCain of Arizona and Don Nickles of Oklahoma -- voted against the USDA-approved feeding frenzy last week.

Where were all the other fiscal hawks to snuff out this harvest of shame?

JWR contributor Michelle Malkin can be reached by clicking here.


05/30/00: The perils of medical quackery
05/26/00: Awarding medals by race is a disgrace
05/22/00: Have Simon & Schuster execs lost their minds!?
05/17/00: Sports plebes vs. plutocrats
05/15/00: Whitewashing Red China's record
05/12/00: Our mothers' hands
05/08/00: Focus on the real Waco
05/05/00: An Internet victim's sad story
05/03/00: Phony pooh-bahs of journalism
05/01/00: Zoo tragedy triggers dumb reaction
04/24/00: Ecoterrorists on the loose
04/19/00: Beware of Elian's psychobabblers
04/17/00: The truth about Erin Brockovich
04/13/00: In defense of an armed citizenry
04/10/00: Playing hardball with taxpayers
04/06/00: Read W.'s lips: More new spending
04/04/00: The liberal media-in-training
03/31/00: Sticking it to the children
03/28/00: Declaring war on HOV lanes
03/22/00: Clinton and the Echo Boomers
03/17/00: Is Bush a Liddy Dole Republican?
03/13/00: Katie and the politics of disease
03/10/00: Maria H, Granny D, and the media Z's
03/07/00: Bubba Van Winkle wakes up
03/03/00: Double standard for day traders?
02/28/00: Sluts and nuts --- and our daughters
02/24/00: Zoning out religious freedom
02/15/00: The Baby Brain Boondoggle
02/10/00: Buddhist temple untouchables
02/08/00: CDC: Caught Devouring Cash
02/04/00: Hillary's poisoned poster child
02/01/00: Corporate welfare on ice
01/28/00: The silly sound of silence
01/26/00: The Old Media meltdown
01/20/00: The pied pipers of KidCare
01/18/00: Our imperious judiciary
01/14/00: Tune out Columbine chorus
01/12/00: Dying to be an American
01/10/00: Time for smokers' revolt?
12/30/99: Reading, writing, PlayStation?
12/27/99: Fight money-grubbing mallrats
12/23/99: Christmas for Cornilous Pixley
12/20/99: Who will help the Hmong?
12/16/99: Shame on corn-fed politicians
12/13/99: EPA vs. the American Dream
12/09/99: Look behind the Pokemon curtain
12/06/99: Amateur hour in Seattle
11/30/99: Stop the Ritalin racketeers
11/23/99: Welfare for a sports fatcat
11/19/99: Jeb Bush's political ploy of the week
11/16/99: Ben & Jerry serve up junk science
11/12/99: A monumental waste of our veterans' resources
11/10/99: Tax-and-spend schizophrenia
11/05/99: Spooky Guy Haunts the Capital
11/02/99: Mourning the loss of the last Liberty Tree
10/27/99: AOL goes AWOL on parents
10/22/99: The persecution of Harry Potter
10/20/99: Don't doctor the law
10/14/99: The trouble with kids today
10/12/99: Pro-animal, pro-abortion, anti-speech?
10/07/99: Beltway press corps needs more skunks
09/30/99: ESPN overlooks athlete of faith, grace, and guts
09/27/99: Personal freedom going up in smoke
09/15/99: Farewell, "Miss" America
09/10/99: Will George W. work for a color-blind America?
09/03/99: Feminization of gun debate drowns out sober analysis
08/27/99: America is abundant land of equal-opportunity insult
08/10/99: Protect the next generation from diversity do-goodism
08/04/99: Sweepstakes vs. state lottery: double standards on gambling
07/21/99: "True-life tales from the Thin Red Line" (or "Honor those who sacrificed their lives for peace")
07/21/99: Reading, 'Riting, and Raunchiness?
07/14/99: Journalists' group-think is not unity
06/30/99: July Fourth programming for the Springer generation
06/25/99: Speechless in Seattle
06/15/99: Making a biblical argument against federal death taxes

© 2000, Creators Syndicate