Monday, January 6, 2014
Matthew Mitchell has an interesting article on US farm subsidies (http://mercatus.org/sites/default/files/Mitchell_Farm-Subsidy_MOP_010313.pdf). He points out the obscene redistribution of income through US farm subsidy mechanisms, and he clearly describes the "concentrated benefits and diffused costs" nature of the subsidies. He's correct that one reason the policies persist is the low per capita cost of the subsidies. However, the crony capitalism farm subsidy system (and all that it entails, including political ties) has deep cultural underpinnings. Americans of all ages lap up (or are force fed) storybook images of farms and farm animals. Think Charlotte's Web, The Jolly Barnyard, etc. These images protect and preserve visions of farming and agriculture that are NOT grounded in reality (at least for the approximately 10% of US farms that produce approximately 90% of the output). The storybook images obscure the corporate welfare nature of farm subsidies and help preserve the policy status quo.