It may not as bad as those droughts in Africa, but it’s sure not a walk in the park, either. The sun is practically frying cornfields to a crisp in some parts of the Midwest – although my family’s crops personally aren’t in any kind of, like, apocalyptic duress, as some pander-happy politicos and ratings-starved news networks would have you believe. Places like Iowa and other states nestled in the corn belt, though, probably are faring much worse than any of us Upper North Yankees.
Just one quick glance at the statistics is a one-way trip to Glumtown, if there ever was such a place. Corn production is in deadlock, hitting all-time lows – at least in terms of yield-per-acreage. (More than in 15 years, if the government’s own depressingly grim charts have anything to say about it.) And everybody knows what happens when the supply of any kind of highly valued resource is scarce. In this case, grocery stores will jack up the price and farmers will leap for the highest bids possible. And why wouldn’t they? If they didn’t, the corn supply would be quickly depleted, as shoppers would dash to buy the nearly inaccessible produce for pennies on the dollar. Better get in on the action before the stampede beats you to the checkout line. With insanely low prices like that, you couldn’t afford to miss out on the offer. Can you say recipe for disaster?
Not only would it cut into corn suppliers’ profit margins, but it would also be the epitome of economic stupidity. After all, you don’t see card-collectors selling those little pieces of paper with pictures on them (well, that’s pretty much what they are) for two bucks when there’s only, like, ten of them in the world.
So, of course, with drought hitting the Midwest like some kind of organic crock-pot, the family pocketbook is about to be rammed to high Heaven. And how, naturally, are the political do-gooders in the state capitol planning to make things right again?
Government to the rescue, of course. You can never trust ordinary people to come up with their own solutions to the hardships they’re facing. EPA Regional Administrator knows best.
Anybody who challenges the conventional “given” that only Washington can bring adequate relief to the farming community – or to food mart patrons for that matter – is instantly demonized as a black-hearted monster who prioritizes radical individualist, free market fundamentalist ideology over the suffering of millions. We saw this with Obama’s self-righteous plug for the Farm Bill in Iowa – a laundry-list of industry giveaways to both Big Agra and Grandpa Joe’s farm alike, the former obviously winning themselves more loot than those who don’t have the financial clout or highly-trained lobbying squads to bribe politicians.
Paul Ryan, we were lectured, doesn’t care about the seemingly faceless, everyday victims of drought who are often kicked to the sidelines in favor of “partisan” squabbles that have nothing to do with stemming the tide of our economic sob-fest – like, I don’t know, the wholesale slaughtering of unborn children that some Congressman are nearly sent to the guillotine for condemning, without compromise or exception – as if cold-blooded murder is something we can simply negotiate on with the pro-death militants who make up the “choice” movement.
We would be wise to heed the advice of one of the greatest statesman who ever lived – that dedicated champion of hard money, populist free-market capitalism, elimination of trade barriers, and removal of the State from every nook and cranny of our lives. I am, of course, speaking of our good pal Grover Cleveland.
In his veto of a Congressional proposal that would have provided buckets of federal relief dollars to farmers struggling through a rainless, scorching dry spell, Cleveland had this to say:
I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution, and I do not believe that the power and duty of the general government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit. Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character, while it prevents the indulgence among our people of that kindly sentiment and conduct which strengthens the bonds of a common brotherhood.
And yet any politician who utters even a single word in favor of such timeless American principles today is cast off as a stingy, curmudgeonly old miser who would love nothing more than for the wounded, unfortunate, and penniless to go without any kind of special assistance from society whatsoever. Did Cleveland deny these funds because he had absolutely no empathy for these poor farmers, who were languishing under a series of piss-poor weather conditions completely outside of their control? Could he not put himself in their shoes? Did someone tie him up to a chair as a kid and mutilate the family pets right in front of him, hoping to desensitize him to everybody else’s plight as he got older?
No, in fact, Cleveland’s attitude had nothing to do with some kind of innate, sadistic desire to see other people crying for help as their bellies turned into raisins, corpses lined every inch of the farmland, and the stench of dead carcasses went all the way to Timbuktu. (Seriously, one of my political sparring partners told me that’s what I must have been itching for in a heated debate over whether the U.S. should have been doling out foreign aid to Haiti after their horrific earthquake.)
No, this tubby champion of the gold standard’s intentions were quite the opposite. Not only did he believe Congress had no authority under the Constitution to reach into the public purse to pay for something like this, but he also believed that it would give Americans carte blanche to be derelict in their charitable duties toward others. After all, if the government has already proclaimed itself savior of the drought-stricken farmer, and you’re being violently expropriated to pay for the relief dollars as is, why give those farmers a helping hand? Why cut them a check, or ship boxes of food to the afflicted area, or head down there yourself to comfort and assist those who are malnourished or struggling to make a decent living? Your only moral responsibility is to scribble your signature on the tax form and be done with it.
That sure isn’t any way to sow the seeds for a nation of tenderhearted and compassionate Good Samaritans. Cleveland was trying to convey the reputable idea that state-enforced redistribution schemes, even if designed for the explicit purpose of, say, helping natural disaster victims, kills the nation’s spirit, as it displaces the very institutions that are most effective in relieving human suffering.
Hearing the chorus of bleeding heart Progressives call for more government as the solution to this predicament makes me want to split my sides. As if we can just wave a magic wand and – poof! – suddenly all the havoc Mother Earth wrought on this year’s coming harvest will dematerialize faster than a watermelon being crushed with a super-sized mallet. If anything, it appears the government is actually dumping several gallons of fuel on the fire, so it wouldn’t be wise to ask them for “help” – as the policies that do the most damage are usually the ones proposed as “quick fixes” to other perceived problems.
The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) – better known in some circles as the “ethanol mandate” – is a textbook example of unintended consequences run amok. Whose bright idea was this? The Environmental Protection Agency, of course. Why, they’re only there to protect the habitats of spotted owls and deer mice, sock it to global warming, and keep factories from polluting our rivers and streams. That’s what Teacher told me, so it must be true! They could never do anything to bring any kind of harm to the human race!
All joking aside, this particular regulation, devised by the expert micromanagers who staff our unelected eco-bureaus, requires that at least forty percent of our corn stock must be set aside for ethanol production – a process where corn is refined into oil that is used to fuel cars, among other things. Supposedly, this is because the industrial disgrace that is the United States is pumping loads of toxic gases into the air, depleting the ozone layer, busting the temperature meter, and causing the polar ice caps to melt like popsicles in a toaster oven. In our battle against climate change, we must strip people of their right to decide how the fruits of their production can and can’t be used, and what they can and cannot buy.
Anyone with even a slight understanding of how markets work – and I’m afraid that might be only a sheer handful of Americans with the way our government school system teaches our kids nowadays – knows how the rest of the story goes. The RFS is inflationist mayhem on a massive scale. What in Sam’s Hill do I mean by that? Well, think about it. What happens when you forcibly take a bunch of corn off the market and put it in cars instead? For one thing, you have less corn for people to actually, you know … eat. And with less corn lining the aisles at the supermarket, there’s obviously a price mark-up. Supply and demand.
Okay, so we have to pay a couple more bucks for corn. Whoop-de-doodle. But if that was the only downside of the policy, there wouldn’t be an outpouring of fiery protest from farmers, grassroots activists, and elected officials who represent agricultural districts. After all, if shoppers have to dig more money out of their pockets for a few corn cobs, every corn-planter (besides, perhaps, the rare “leave-me-alone” libertarian ones who stand up on principle, even if they have absolutely nothing to gain from it) would be clamoring for even higher quotas. But they’re not. In fact, it’s the biofuels industry who is frantically churning out propaganda piece after propaganda piece in support of the RFS.
Here, we come to a second important accidental side-effect of note: Cows, chickens, pigs, and other livestock aren’t as well-nourished because, well … farmers use corn to make feed. Woops. So here we have a policy where the government tells Grandpa Joe they will pad his wallet with higher profits from the artificially propped up selling price of his produce when, in fact, they’re secretly kicking him in the shin. Truth is, the milk you squeeze out of ol’ Betsy isn’t going to be as scrum-diddly-umptious. The eggs sitting in the henhouse aren’t going to be as ripe for the taking. The slaughterhouse will cut you a smaller check for the farm animals they butcher and send to the meat processing plant to make into wings, hamburgers, and what have you. And a lot more of those animals will keel over and starve before you even get a chance to make a lifetime’s worth of their use.
Farmers take the bait, get reeled into the boat, and then get tossed in the bucket. Can’t say I’m surprised. It seems that even traditionally self-reliant folk are falling for the welfare queen trap. Then they get disappointed when everything doesn’t go according to plan. I hope some farmers are learning a lesson from this. They shouldn’t just bite the hand that feeds them now. It’s time for them to gnaw it right off.
That’s not the end of it, though. Since more milk samples are sour or contaminated, there’s less of it on the shelves for us to buy. Same with meat and other produce. Almost everything we put into our stomachs or hang in our closet becomes that much more expensive.
Even Democrats are raising hell over this. Most of the letters the EPA is getting over the screwed up ethanol mandate is from that particular party. Some of them even want it repealed, not just temporarily suspended. Clearly, this is an issue that transcends partisan lines.
With millions of households across the nation busting their collective backs just to put food on the plate, is it really necessary to keep in place a regulation that drives up food costs and makes crops more scarce? Only a deranged lunatic would say yes to that question.
Knowing all this, isn’t it hilarious that the very institution that has brought us unbearable suffering is now righteously proclaiming that it will rescue us from the very same? Oh, wait. “Hilarious” isn’t the word I’m looking for. The word I’m looking for is sad.