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BILL CRAWFORD — Are Mississippi farmers the next government dependents?

BILL CRAWFORD

Perhaps you read the hyperbolic rant published by former state representative and unsuccessful GOP governor candidate Robert Foster that slammed “Dictator” Gov. Tate Reeves for his recent coronavirus executive order.

Besides opposing Reeves’ mask mandate for 13 counties, the “truth” telling Foster lambasted “Communist Democrats”, “coward politicians’, and “Cancel Culture Liberals”, touted “what’s left of free America”, and named those who might oppose his rant as “Cancel Culture Communist Liberals.”

Interesting how such purveyors of “truth” have to be so vitriolic and damning of fellow Americans.  The “truth” itself isn’t sufficient?

But, let’s focus on one small part of the rant, where Foster said, “This is about government constantly pushing more taxes, more fees, more fines, more loss of Liberty, one little bit at a time.”

This is straight out of the Tea Party dogma and appealing in many ways. No-one likes taxes, fees, or fines. However, it paints government as an evil monstrosity conspiring to steal personal liberty rather than a constitutional system of governance controlled by duly elected local, state, and national officials trying their best to serve their constituents.

Intrinsic to the evil government conspiracy theory are government programs – think Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, etc. – that make people dependent on government … and push up taxes and the national debt at the expense of “free Americans.”

How ironic, then, that the conspiratorialists’ “freedom” hero is leading the latest charge to dole out federal dollars and make more people government dependent.

“Government payments to farmers have surged to historic levels under President Donald Trump as the Agriculture Department floods the industry with cash to stem the financial losses from Trump’s tariff fights and the coronavirus pandemic,” reported Politico.com.

It started in mid-2018 with payments to farmers after Trump tariffs on China disrupted farm product sales, but has skyrocketed with new payments due to the coronavirus.

“Farm policy experts and watchdog groups warn the subsidies are growing too big and too fast,” reported Politico, adding “Washington could have a difficult time shutting off the spigot.”

Mississippi conservative Agriculture Commissioner Andy Gipson touted Trump’s latest subsidies. “I encourage all of our farmers across the state to take advantage of this unique opportunity,” he said on May 21.

From May 26 to July 13, a total of 8,387 Mississippi farmers did, signing up for over $67 million with 51% going to 7,704 livestock producers, 47% to 1,403 non-specialty crop growers, 2% to 52 dairy farmers, and less than 1% to nine specialty crop growers.

Sixty percent of this money comes from the CARES Act and forty percent from USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation. One hundred percent of the tariff-related subsidies came from the credit program. With no funding source, all this adds directly to the national debt.

Oh, one more thing Foster praised in his rant was a “free market” economy. Of course, in a true free market economy there is no government intervention at all, so there would be no government subsidies to farmers or any other businesses.

Hmmm.

As Abbott and Costello said, “Why” is out in left field next to “Because.”

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set your free” – John 8:32.

» BILL CRAWFORD is a syndicated columnist from Jackson.

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