FOOD & FUEL FILE
Farming and ranching have always involved a lot of straightness. Straight fence lines, straight rows, straight dealing.
Politics not so much. Twisted thinking, circular debate and, more often than we care to admit, crooked people litter the political scene.
In fact, today’s politics are dominated by the inside-out logic that doing nothing is better than doing anything. We even pay dozens in Congress at least $174,000 per year to ensure it.
Small wonder then that so many with so little are so willing to fight so dirty to attain, then keep, political office.
Life after office ain’t so bad, either.
According to the “Revolving Door” database maintained by the Center for Responsive Politics, 370 former members of Congress currently “receive handsome compensation from corporations and special interests as they attempt to influence the very federal government” they formerly served. (See www.opensecrets.org.)
This auction of public trust virtually guarantees special interests a 24/7/365 lock on national interests.
For example, if you’re a transnational meatpacker you can purchase all the influence – fake economic studies, key committee people in Congress, astro-turf farm and ranch groups, solemn lobbyists – to make market-leveling regulations simply disappear. And the laws, like the competition, soon do.
It might seem like sleight of hand, but it’s not. We see it. We even write and talk about it and, sooner than later, we pay for it.
Examples are the deregulated, failing banks, an energy policy built on unsustainable fuels, a food inspection system that inspects almost nothing, meaningless antitrust laws, corporate “free” trade and unlimited campaign spending.
Add it up and it amounts to socialism for capitalists and capitalism for everyone else.
The Big Boys bend and buy government to do their bidding – fewer regs, lower taxes, more subsidies – while you, with little money, no influence and no lobbyist, are told to compete.
The first week of October showed this crooked approach to democracy in full bloom.
On Oct. 3, the White House sent to Congress three trade deals (Panama, South Korea and Columbia) that have been hanging fire for years. Easy, swift (as in two weeks), bipartisan Congressional approval is predicted.
That very day the U.S. Senate agreed, by a bipartisan 79-19 majority, to impose import tariffs on any nation whose currency is purposely “misaligned” against the dollar.
The legislation, aimed directly at China, has zero chances of enactment because Big Ag and Big Biz will send its lobbyist poodles to nip it to death in the House, so China’s Western-owned factories can continue to send us stuff we don’t need at prices that will be fully paid by our grandchildren.
That the three free trade deals will sail unquestioned through Congress in 15 minutes and the China currency deal won’t make it out of Congress in 15 years is more proof of our democracy’s growing dysfunction.
People come second to profit.
Only one major ag leader, Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, questioned the need for the trade deals and the principles of our soon-to-be biz partners.
While “Agriculture has been one of the few sectors (in the U.S. economy with) a trade surplus,” Johnson noted Oct. 3, it also has had “a net trade deficit in seven of the past eight years with countries that the U.S. has trade agreements.”
That red bottom line is written in blood for some of the pending trade partners. In Columbia, for example, Johnson added, more than 2,800 trade unionists have been murdered since 1986; “51 in 2010 alone.”
So that’s our business plan: Become partners with folks we wouldn’t share a cup of coffee with in the hope – a vain hope, according to the record – of selling them a bushel of corn or a pound of ribs?
Little wonder so many people in this glorious nation think we’re headed straight off a cliff.
The Farm and Food File is published weekly in more than 70 newspapers in North America. Contact Alan Guebert at www.farmandfoodfile.com.
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