Save a Horse (Starve a Mexican)

Tyler Lage

The concept is actually closer to “Create a safety net for farmers (starve a Mexican)” but, alas, Big & Rich never got around to writing that one.

When did making sure that people remain in their family occupation take precedence over people being able to afford food? While the idea of agricultural subsidies- particularly ones aimed at providing a financial incentive to develop suboptimal technologies- rub the libertarian idealist in me the wrong way, the objections go past mere romantic fantasy. The pragmatist can feast from this moral dilemma as well.

Simply put: when Iowan farmers are incentivized by the government via ethanol plants to power our cars with their crop our neighbors down south go without food. In 2007 alone, average tortilla prices in Mexico rose by around 50 percent. This is old news. Why are we talking about it?

Because Tom Vilsack is still parroting the same twisted logic that got the ethanol ball rolling over a decade ago: namely, that farmers need a safety net.

That is right, ladies and gentlemen: the same independent, salt-of-the-earth, pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps folks that constitute the Tea Party and all of the pseudo-libertarianism/constitutionalism that it entails want handouts from the federal government to stabilize their businesses. From a crowd that should know it when it smells it, this is a steaming pile of bullshit.

This pot-kettle situation sounds like a sad, sick joke, but it is unfortunately very real. That is why Tom Vilsack, the former Governor of this great state turned Secretary of Agriculture was on The Colbert Report last Tuesday night stumping for the merits of subsidies.

Where do we go from here?

Those of us fortunate to have been reared in a farming community owe it to our friends, relatives, and parents to have a discussion with them about the two erroneous ideas being espoused here.

First, our economic stability does not take precedence over the ability of Juan Q. Publico to provide for his family. When the government gets actively involved in starving citizens of another country, it has overstepped its bounds.

Second, proponents of subsidies need to find a consistent viewpoint. Either they are in favor of redistribution of wealth (including giving it to that lazy bum who won’t look for a job), or they are against it (including their stance on agricultural subsidies, which must now be reevaluated).

I officially give you permission to discuss these politics at the dinner table: your friends across the border will appreciate it.