Four years ago, the debate about a new farm bill seemed to get a lot more coverage. It was in the news all the time. This year, it’s almost an afterthought in the press. If the New York Times and their urban brethren have some space left over after covering the bizarre Republican Cirque du Soleil scramble for the nomination, they’ll squeeze in a word or two about one of the most important issues floating around the dysfunctional family life that’s Washington, DC.
NYT, that often pompous journal of urban ranching (Got a tomato plant sprouting out of a milk carton in your uptown apartment kitchen window? You’re an urban rancher.) just published some suggestions from people who hope they have a stake in the issue. Their short commentaries, all based on their personal prejudices, seek to put some form to the massive and formless thing that poses as an intelligent farm bill discussion inside the Beltway these days.
Walter Olson, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and editor of the blog Overlawyered, says “Untangle This Messy, Unfocused Bill.” What drives Olson’s Cato’d point-of-view? Wikipedia describes the Institute as “a libertarian think tank headquartered in Washington, D.C. founded in 1977 by Edward H. Crane, who remains president and CEO, and Charles Koch, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of the conglomerate Koch Industries, Inc., the second largest privately held company by revenue in the United States.”
“The Institute's stated mission is "to increase the understanding of public policies based on the principles of limited government, free markets, individual liberty, and peace. The Institute will use the most effective means to originate, advocate, promote, and disseminate applicable policy proposals that create free, open, and civil societies in the United States and throughout the world.”
Olson wagged his finger at one of the fed’s more absurd shortcomings. “Even as the federal government ships millions to the New York City health department to lecture us on the dangers of salty snacks and other waistline temptations, the U.S. Department of Agriculture this month awarded $50,000 to a Long Island company to market its product: potato chips” he wrote.
It’s the same split personality that causes the government to grossly curtail the marketing of tobacco products for valid health reasons while supporting tobacco farmers with annual checks.