A Bit of homemade Fake News

The president recently imposed tariffs on various countries as part of his plan to Make America Great Again.    The jury is still out about whether these trade wars he started will have a disastrous effect or not.   One small bit of news:  after retaliatory tariffs by China caused the price American farmers get for soybeans to plummet, the president vowed to bail out farmers with a $12,000,000,000 emergency government grant like the type used during the Depression to prevent foreclosures on small family farms. [1]  

On the surface, there is a lot of heedless idiocy here, as in many of the president’s angry, hastily implemented policies, which are promulgated largely to stoke the anger and resentment of his angry base.   To fix a problem directly caused by his policy, the president now offers to pay twelve billion dollars of taxpayer money, right after radically slashing taxes for the largest taxpayers — and driving the national deficit steeply toward an even trillion dollars.   Way to make a deal, buddy.

On a level just below the surface, this is business as usual.   Welfare for individuals struggling to survive a poverty lifestyle is frowned on by the radical right (current custodians of the GOP) as socialism, Marxism, a hated vestige of the hated New Deal, a reflection of liberal hatred of American values.   Make them work, make them take urine tests, make them pull themselves up by their own Adidas, let them miss one arbitrary, last-minute face-to-face meeting and –goodbye government tit!   “Welfare” for the wealthiest… well, that’s a little more complicated.

It’s true that “farmer” evokes the image of salt of the earth people working hard to bring forth the bounty of the land.   The farmers who will reap most, if not all, of the $12,000,000,000 the president proposes to give them, probably do not fit this image.  Most American farms today are owned by large corporations.  It is hard to find out who will be the main beneficiaries of this bailout, though I suspect not all of it will go to salt of the earth families battling the earth itself for their livelihood.  

The people who owned slaves and lived in genteel antebellum luxury were invariably called  “Planters”.   They planted nothing themselves, except perhaps the occasional seed in the womb of a good looking chattel they owned.   They were, in one way of looking at them, parasites and monsters, even if everything they did was perfectly legal and morally correct at the time.   After all, the Bible said so, as did the Supreme Court, did they not?

I haven’t spent the additional two minutes to research this, but you are welcome to. [2]   I would wager that the recipients of the bulk of this twelve billion dollar giveaway are the kind of farmers known as “agribusiness”.   Huge tracts of land, owned by corporations, worked by hired hands who are not going to be buying private planes in this lifetime.   Farmers.   Absolutely.   Nothing to see here.

But let’s assume they are all small farmers struggling to keep up with mortgage payments and laying out great sums to grow their crops, their hogs, what have you. [3]  I like what Republican senator Nebraska Ben Sasse had to say about the administration’s trade war: “cutting the legs out from under farmers and White House’s ‘plan’ is to spend $12 billion on gold crutches.”   (source)

Sasse added, gratuitously and unfairly:  “this administration’s tariffs and bailouts aren’t going to make America great again, they’re just going to make it 1929 again.” (The Great Depression began in the U.S. that year.)   (ibid)

Taxpayers for Common Sense, a group that has all the earmarks of a Koch Brother’s front group, was also dismayed, calling the president’s bailout plan “a recipe for disaster that would undo decades of progress toward weaning agriculture from financial dependence on federal subsidies.” (op cit)

Way to go, fellow stable genius from Queens!  Pay no attention to fake news.  Those enemies of the people suck!


[1] The plan will rely in large part on a 1933 program called the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), a division of the Agriculture Department created during the Great Depression to provide financial backup for farmers.          source

[2]  This is as close as I came in one minute trying to find out who the main beneficiaries of this complicated bit of presidential generosity will actually be:  

While such efforts are widely popular in rural states, some anti-spending Republicans and urban Democrats have said they unfairly prop up agribusinesses at taxpayers’ expense. Trump’s proposed 2019 budget also would have slashed funding for the CCC.    

(same source)

Note that until the other day the president was all for slashing funding for this program, Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), that he now uses to pay $12,000,000,000 to some of our greatest citizens, our greatest citizens.  He even made green hats for them, saying “Make Our Farmers Great Again.”   Way to go, buddy!

[3] Perhaps you’ll have more patience for this complex article than I did.

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