Sunday, August 19, 2007

Food Folly

Those interested in farming and agriculture know that a few weeks ago (July 27) the House passed HR 2419, known by most as the "Farm Bill." The following report says a lot and the USDA Web page on the bill has even more.

My brilliant friend Thalia has done some research and written a concise paper on the subject.

Thalia is a for real mathematician.

Such people are not verbose. At only a page and a half, she's produced solid work well worth the reader's time. She wrote it before the passage of HR 2419, so the paper discusses the issue, not the bill specifics.

I encourage the reader to take a look.

The issue ties to my rants about the nation's drift towards a corporate welfare state that diverts taxpayer dollars to mega-companies making record profits.

The agriculture issue exceeds my budget, but the executive summary discussion points to taxpayer subsidization of industries to inflate profits at public expense. The situation has become appalling. The only reason the general public is not foaming at the mouth in seething rage is that they don't know.

Republicans have climbed into bed with corporations to produce a "cost externalizing" racket that basically works like this: Not only will we cut your taxes, we will pass legislation that picks up the costs of your operations and allows you to keep the additional profits. For example, take some buses into Mexico, pick up a bunch of folks living in squalor, drive them to Omaha, and dump them at the homeless shelter. Hire them for almost nothing and let the taxpayers handle their medical issues, housing, and any other mess. Examples abound.

The theme involves companies migrating west to non-unionized, economically weak communities and blackmailing them for tax cuts and special breaks for moving there. In some of the ranching and meat-packing operations the public subsidy for each worker can top $20,000 per year. We, the public, pay their wages. We, the public, handle the external costs. The company keeps the profits. Get it? It's a racket.

Thalia noted that Jane Goodall's "every purchase is a vote" argument that the consumer can modify the situation by buying organic is horse puckey. I can go to Wild Oats and buy organic apples until the cows come home. Any effective solution will have to come from the political arena where sound discussion distinguishes the truth and creates the warranted outrage.

The goods news is that slowly some people are noticing. Eric Schlosser's fantastic Fast Food Nation is a MUST READ. Those upgrading to video are encouraged to check out University Channel for intelligent discussion of the subject at a Princeton University conference.

From agriculture to pharmaceuticals to energy to finance, Lord Cheney and his puppet party have become the servants of the wealthiest one percent and have implemented policies that exacerbate the growing gap between rich and poor. The gap ultimately threatens the existence of democracy. How ironic that the party started by perhaps the greatest American president who saved this nation in the 1860's, is now working to destroy it in the 21st century. The scorpions are stinging the frog.

We know what happened to the person who said, "Let them eat cake."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your friend Thalia is obviously pretty sharp.

Your girlfriend is not so sharp. She voted for the bill.

8/19/2007 2:11 PM  
Blogger x4mr said...


Yea, right, anon. Apparently you have not heard about an astronaut.

The bill, while flawed, did introduce some improvements with fruits and vegetables. Maybe Thalia will check in and add some remarks.

8/19/2007 3:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I have seen you two. When you look at her, you beam like a school kid and can barely keep your saliva in your mouth. It's embarrassing.

When she looks at you, there is just as much desire, but she hides it better (not by much). At least she doesn't drool and look like a complete moron.

He lives in Houston. You live in Tucson. Ask your math friend to do some calculations.

She is pure politician. Every move is political, including that so called romance, which almost no one believes anyway. By the way, the guy has kids. Yea, she's into motherhood. Yea.

8/19/2007 3:44 PM  
Blogger Sirocco said...

Hmmm ... I haven't seen Giffords and x4mr in the same place at the same time ... but I've had dinner at the Giffords house with her, Mark and the girls. I know quite well your insinuations are as baseless as they are classless.

8/19/2007 3:50 PM  
Blogger x4mr said...

This blog is not a soap opera or venue for infantile nonsense. Were it not for Sirocco's remark, I would probably have deleted anon's comment.

Instead, I'll go ahead and leave it, but Sirocco is entirely correct. I am not as connected to the Congresswoman as Sirocco, have not had dinner at her house, and have been in the same place at the same time with her on very few occasions where hundreds of others were present.

I have met Mark, and he seems like a great guy, and I have seen them look at each other. The reality is that those two are getting married, and I wish them the best.

8/19/2007 4:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8/19/2007 5:14 PM  
Blogger x4mr said...

I suppose it was only a matter of time before a Giffonator would visit and post vitriolic nonsense.

As the election heats up, I imagine more is on the way.

This story is supposed to be about the farm bill.

Other Web sites will welcome your hateful anti-Semitic filth. Post there. You are correct that I will delete such content immediately.

Don't comment here again.

8/19/2007 6:54 PM  
Blogger Sirocco said...

Hmmm .. I had a clever and witty reply all typed up, sent it, messed up something so had to re-send ... and saw the post I was replying too had been deleted.

8/19/2007 6:55 PM  
Blogger x4mr said...


Please don't let your creativity be stifled! You can post your response anyway. People pretty much (I would guess) know what the jerk said.

Those who have no idea what you're saying will get over it.

8/19/2007 7:37 PM  
Blogger Liza said...

I read the deleted post.

Referring to someone as a "Jewish American Princess" is hardly "anti-Semitic." If only that were all there was to it. I despise prejudice and racism, but I also despise the use of those accusations when it is not appropriate, when it is clearly overkill.

I have been called racist and "anti-Semitic" on these blogs for speaking out against Israel's foreign policy toward Lebanon and the Palestinians. I have actually avoided commenting on these subjects on American blogs, not wanting to be called "anti-Semitic." Well, that's going to change.

8/19/2007 7:46 PM  
Blogger x4mr said...

Okay, Liza. Speaking very technically, the JAP remark by itself would not warrant the accusation, but since you read the comment, you know that the other content was hateful, so I wrote what I wrote. In another context, JAP by itself would not solicit such a response.

If someone wants to blast Giffords, they can do so here, but it needs to be respectable discourse.

The comment I deleted was not respectable discourse. I would do the same for Jeff or Salette Latas, Patty Weiss, or anyone seeking office. I have read (and empathize with) your objections to Israel's trigger finger. I also empathize with why they have one.

If people want to hit below the belt, they can do so somewhere else.

8/19/2007 8:02 PM  
Blogger x4mr said...

Not sure why I find it so irritating when I make a comment and then realize I forgot something I really had to say. At any rate, I can only recall one time, Liza, when you faced such accusations, and that was from the lunatic Carmi/Tribal whatever, a certified loon.

Your comments over time do not reflect the slightest racist sentiments. Your objections to the Middle-East fiasco are clearly rooted in humanitarian decency and goodwill towards other human beings, and I think that's obvious to any intelligent reader.

8/19/2007 8:14 PM  
Anonymous The Navigator said...

What a superficial thread where no one says what they think.

Clearly the anonymous poster is a "Giffonator" to use x4mr's expression.

I too read the deleted comment, and its author correctly anticipated its deletion.

I agree with x4mr, Liza. You are not racist. You are a good person rightfully outraged at excessive violence. I have no answer for you.

Like his tome "Something Else," x4mr's blog is about reality, and the current picture is not pretty.

8/19/2007 8:45 PM  
Blogger Liza said...

The "anti Semitic" accusation has been used too often and for too long by the pro-Israel hawks to silence ANYONE who speaks out against Israel's foreign policy. It is an accusation that has been very effective, but that is starting to change. There is a more truthful message being disseminated, but it is a slow process, and it may never alleviate the suffering in Gaza and the West Bank.

It is a small thing, x4mr, but using the word "anti-Semitic" correctly may mean more than you think.

8/19/2007 9:58 PM  
Blogger Framer said...

Oh, and the farm subsidy bill is still a bad bill.

Giffords voted for it. But so did a lot of others. They all need to be kicked in the shins.

I'm still drinking soda flavored with high fructose corn syrup.

And Big Dairy is using all this to jack up milk prices. If government cared about the little people they would haul the Dairy profiteers before a committee (I'm kidding, maybe.)

The only people that stood up to this bill were Republicans, so to turn this into a rant on how evil Republicans are is kind of a non-sequiter. Last I checked, Democrats were in charge, and were instrumental in the bill passage.

A little introspection towards Giffords and her party is slightly warranted.

8/20/2007 8:27 PM  
Blogger x4mr said...

Okay, Framer. Good points, to a point.

At the moment, I cannot recall, but I would guess Dustin or Liza (or both) have voiced resignation regarding both parties, and they have cause for such views.

Still, the corporate welfare banner and the creation of policies favoring the most wealthy fall far more on the red side of the fence.

My sentiments are more a reflection of disgust for Cheney/Rove than fondness for Democrats. How you can fail to see that Cheney and Rove are evil criminals given your intellect is beyond me. Your party supports evil malignancy that threatens our democracy, our country, and the planet.

I was bright red, bright red, in 1979. Then the GOP changed.

I am not a Democrat. I am an Independent. I can concede to your points about the farm bill, and as Thalia notes, it is badly flawed, but in the bigger picture, who rammed the big pharma pork down our throats? Who supports subsidizing big oil?

8/20/2007 9:40 PM  
Blogger Eli Blake said...

I read through the paper, couldn't find much math, but she does make some very cogent points.

Another, related issue has to do with the fact that when we sign 'free trade' pacts (and simply to blindly oppose trade is stupid and unrealistic) we do it from a 'laissez-faire' perspective. We don't hold the people we sign trade pacts with to American, or really to any standards in terms of labor or other issues.

I wrote a post on that issue after the WTO agreement on agricultural products over a year ago, which in effect made American farmers compete with farmers in Mali who might earn a few hundred dollars a year.

The post is at:


I'd love to see peace in Palestine. I would. But let's be honest here-- it's hard to blame Israel for the present suffering, especially in Gaza, when the dominant party there effectively seperated themselves from the rest of the government, and then has dismantled the border crossings on their side of the border (so that the border crossings couldn't even be opened now regardless of what Israel did.) None of that was a choice made by Israel, it was a choice made by Hamas.

I'd love to see peace talks and agree that Israel has much they need to give up. But who do they give it up to? Abbas? If they sign an agreement with him, why would anyone in Gaza pay attention to it? And the parties in control of Gaza refuse to talk to Israel in the first place. It's hard to see how they can give any concessions to people who won't even talk to them. Please explain to me 1. what Israel should do to obtain peace with Hamas (the party which is presently in control of Gaza) and 2. then how they can do it given Hamas' refusal to even acknowlege that they exist. Keep in mind that Israel pursued a unilateral withdrawal from all of Gaza a couple of years ago, and that has certainly done nothing to relieve any tension at all.

8/20/2007 11:12 PM  
Blogger Liza said...

I discovered a new journalist fairly recently. His website might address some of these issues as well as everything else you can think of on this subject) far better than I ever could.

Why not take a look, Eli? It is Jonathan Cook is an independent British journalist based in Nazareth.

Try this website, And this one, Here's another,

You can easily read what the other side has to say, Eli. A society under siege has a way of producing and inspiring some excellent journalism unlike the pro-Israel, biased bullsh** that gets rammed down our throats here in the USA mainstream media.

I'm going to be as nice as I can about this. Take your argument elsewhere. I know exactly what you're trying to do here and I can assure you I want no part of it on this blog or any other political blog. It is futile and pointless.

Do some reading.

8/21/2007 8:43 AM  
Anonymous chris said...

How did the farm bill turn into anti-semitism and the middle east?

These blogs can be so weird. Back the Farm Bill, the democrats were divided, and the bill is flawed.

I think the pdf paper is well written and makes some good points. If the Democrats were to effectively alter the way in which the bill is seen and discussed, they might be able to take leadership on the issue.

I also like x4mr's description of the "racket." The situation is of course more complicated. In fact, it is so complicated that I'm not sure anyone really understand.

If you get close to the farm legislation and the reasons certain things get done, you will open a can of worms that has no bottom.

The politics are enormous.

8/21/2007 5:49 PM  

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