Thursday, September 02, 2010

The Mother of All Stimulus Programs

I suppose there is good news for a lot of people in that New York Times story about how a surge in exports is bouying American agriculture. The Times offers a full complement of feelgood data about how much this helps "the farm sector, which" as the Times says
accounts for a small fraction of the overall economy but has a strong impact on the well-being of many rural areas, and a ripple effect for suppliers and other related industries.
Kudos to the Times for also pointing out that the vast majority of this good news redounds to the benefit of a small minority of wealthy commercial farms, while the vaunted "small farmer" makes a good bit of his smaller income from nonfarm sources.

But I wonder--has anybody pencilled out just how much we're paying for this new wealth in the form of farm subsidies? Way I see it, the farm subsidy program is the mother of all stimulus programs--except that it goes back 20s, instead of just the last couple of years. Also, far as I can tell, one of the best arguments in favor of against (!) any stimulus program--puts too much money into the wrong hands, promotes inefficient uses of resources, the whole magilla. So while we are all jumping up and down and flailing our arms about the supposed bogosity of efforts to, e.g., throw a crumb to the mortgage debtors, wouldn't this be a good time to get the fat cats from the pasture (most of whom I suspect, live in the city anyway) off the dole?

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