Political Farmers

Overheard today a group of farmers talking about how they had visited the USDA FSA office to get their paperwork in order for 2016 funding.  They have bigger plans for this year than last year, so they wanted to get more money for those projects.  Then they started complaining about the EPA having unwarranted authority to regulate how farmers use water.

Funny how consistently I hear the inconsistent message from farmers that they want lower interest loans, easier access to grants, more generous subsidies and better price protection plans, but they also want less government regulation and lower taxes.  Socialism (more government services, more government regulation and taxation) is a valid position with internally consistent logic.  Libertarianism (less government services, less government regulation and taxation) is a valid position with internally consistent logic.  Gimme-but-don’t-bother-me-ism is invalid and illogical, but it certainly is prevalent.  And understandably so.  It is nice to have the best of both worlds.

Am I oversimplifying?  Of course I am.  No political discourse is complete without a generous dose of oversimplification.


5 thoughts on “Political Farmers”

  1. I’m not sure where the oversimplification is, actually. But I am sure that you can keep your dirty government hands off my medicare!

    1. The grossest of my oversimplifications is that government regulation is not evenly proportionate to the amount of services rendered at the individual level. So small farmers receive relatively less aid and yet have fewer resources to deal with regulatory burdens. This being dairy country, all the local dairy farmers feel the loss of their long-standing price protections. The only big allocation in the Farm Bill that grew was crop insurance, but the funding model is biased toward huge operations. Since most small farms lose money anyway, this just pushes teetering farms closer to the brink.

      1. Ok, I see. It actually isn’t all that “illogical” to make these calculations after all. I took your original point to be about how common it is for people to simultaneously want government involvement and also protection against government involvement. It’s a good point. My (dumb) joke was about one of the other areas where this has recently come up.

        As your post suggests, though, the “conflict” between right and left here is less about political ideology than it is about people trying to make practical decisions about how to run their businesses. So the oversimplification seems to be that it’s “illogical” to want government involvement in your life AND at the same time want limits to that involvement. This position makes quite a bit of sense. And all but the most totalitarian countries run on this “illogic” to one degree or another.

        Love your posts. Keep ’em coming. Hope everyone is warm during this weekend’s storm.

      2. I was probably being too ironic to make the point well. But yes, short term calculations seem to outweigh the ideologies we otherwise claim to espouse for all but a few purists. And purists are never very interesting. All the interesting aspects of human drama come from the stories that involve a struggle between the ideal and the real.

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