Today’s Washington Post highlights a dilemma for the Tea Party movement in West Tennessee: Can they get behind a very conservative cotton farmer named Stephen Fincher as their congressional candidate if he’s taking $200,000 in annual agricultural subsidies?
To be fair, as one activist points out in the piece, such a purity test would bar any farmer from running for Congress. Yet it is a legitimate issue: How can you rail against the big government that feeds you? We’re not just talking about small payments or credits that large numbers of people get, but huge annual subsidies that illustrate everything that’s wrong with American agriculture.
Fincher offers this defense:
“People are quick to say with their mouth full, ‘Well, the American farmer is on the dole’…But a loaf of bread is two bucks when it could be 10 bucks.”
He’s right about this, but (1) you can’t eat cotton, and (2) is subsidized overproduction a good thing? Doesn’t his argument also imply support for big government to skew prices downward in other areas as well? The manufacture of stereos? Cell phones? Ocean liners? Automobiles? Laptops?
Once you accept the premise that government should exert such downward pressure on prices in the economy, where does it end?