FARM SUBSIDY GRUMBLING….In a demonstration that conservatives can occasionally make themselves useful, Jonah Goldberg rails against welfare for Big Agriculture today:
There are few issues for which the political consensus is so distant from both common sense and expert opinion. Right-wing economists, left-wing environmentalists and almost anybody in-between who doesn’t receive a check from the Department of Agriculture or depend on a political donation from said recipients understand that Americans are spending billions to prop up the last of the horse-and-buggy industries.
….Subsidies combined with trade barriers (another term for subsidy) prop up the price of food for consumers at home and hurt farmers abroad. This is repugnant because agriculture is a keystone industry for developing nations and a luxury for developed ones.
This is true, and the collapse of the Doha trade talks aren’t an excuse for doing nothing. We ought to be reducing farm subsidies even if Europe won’t, and we ought to be doing it unilaterally. George Bush like doing things unilaterally, right?
I would also take things a little farther than Jonah. I don’t want to make any grandiose claims about the effect of a single policy change, but this is the kind of thing that we ought to be doing as part of our campaign to win the war on terror. High farm subsidies send a message to poor countries that not only do we not care about them ? exactly as Osama bin Laden claims ? but that we aren’t willing to help them out even when it would benefit our own consumers and practically every relevant expert in our own country agrees that it’s a step we should take. Reducing farm subsidies would help poor countries, it would provide jobs for their citizens, it would improve our image as good global citizens, and it would do all this even if the feckless farm-ocrats of the EU continued to stick their heads in the sand and refuse to cooperate.
Ah well. We might as well whistle into a hurricane. Too bad this hurricane can come back to bite us.