Aaron's Real Opinions:

Pigs at the Trough
by Aaron Harber
July 28, 2007- Print Article

Part 1: The Need For Federal Fiscal Responsibility.

The Federal Government regularly runs $200 to $500 billion annual deficits and owes over $9 trillion as its National Debt. Those who accurately account for both Federal Government spending and new obligations have proven our national Government actually is incurring about $2 trillion in new annual debt and obligations. They also have demonstrated the Government has made approximately $75 trillion in payment commitments for Medicare, Social Security, and other obligations, most of which have not been fully accounted or funded.

Some believe these commitments have put us on a path to financial disaster. They point to the declining value of the U.S. dollar as one impact. They also note the fact foreign nations control much of our debt (e.g., China has $1 trillion U.S. dollars being held in reserve) and are using dollars to buy U.S. resources – companies, real estate, and other American assets.

With these concerns in mind, one would think the United States Congress would work hard to be fiscally responsible - reducing expenditures where it could and increasing revenues to cover expenditures. Knowing the National Debt requires interest payments of $300 to $400 billion annually - taxpayer-funded money which has no benefit for America - should be reason alone to put a brake on spending. Unfortunately, Congress cannot control itself and its irresponsibility continues.

The latest case in point is the Farm Bill. Initially, federal support of agriculture was meant to promote the growing of certain desired crops and to support those farmers who needed help smoothing out the extraordinary fluctuations which those of us with farms can experience. Unfortunately, the good intentions of Congress morphed into a wasteful vote-getting subsidy program which gives millions of dollars to people and corporations who do not need taxpayer help.

Today, those of us in agriculture are doing very well. Prices for subsidized crops are at record highs. Corn which sold for $2 a bushel or less now sells for $4 a bushel or more. Other crops have followed suit. Farmers are making record amounts of money - as they deserve to do. Thanks to this good fortune, however, the subsidies should be ended. Nevertheless, the latest version of the Farm Bill doles out $286 billion over the next five years in taxpayer dollars to many people and corporations who don’t need it.

Part 2: Why Almost $300 Billion In Farm Aid Isn’t Necessary.

The truth is those of us who own and live on farm are having a financial field day. With high crop prices, we are thriving. We don’t need handouts from the Federal Government, even if we like receiving checks. Unfortunately, Congress simply cannot help itself and, instead of reining in the bloated agricultural aid program, it continues to crank open the floodgates of taxpayer dollars in an effort to secure political support - now ludicrously approaching $300 billion over the next five years.

Sadly, there is a subculture in our country which believes people should take as much as they can get from the Government and from others, even though these persons taking assistance do not need it. “Welfare Cheaters” were despised by the public because citizens realized funds were limited and should only be spent on those truly in need. It is obvious those farmers receiving hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars are not impoverished. Rather, they are pigs at the public trough.

With crop prices so high and farmers doing so well, this is the time to wean everyone off Government subsidy programs. Instead of spending $57 billion annually, the program should be reduced to helping farmers who truly need emergency assistance. This might total $5 billion a year.

And even these people should be put on a course of financial independence, just as was done for welfare recipients. Taxpayers should not be asked to subsidize any agricultural operation indefinitely. If it’s uneconomic, it should not be supported. All of our welfare programs should endeavor to help people become financially independent - not permanently dependent on handouts.

If the Government saved $50 billion a year from this program, it could be used to help reduce the Federal Deficit. It also could be sufficient to provide a basic health care for all uninsured Americans. It is these tradeoffs our elected officials are afraid to make - i.e., stop subsidizing those who do not need help and, instead, reduce the obligations of taxpayers in the future and/or help those truly in medical need now. Sadly, our corrupt Congress does not have the courage to "do the right thing."

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