LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
What Became of Farm Stabilization?
Is this how it is supposed to work? Freedom To Farm, the "Fair"
Act? Is this the anticipated course of events under the profound wisdom
of contemporary farm program planning? Are we witnessing the wonders of
free international trade? Interdependence?
In case you hadn't noticed, the future of the family farm system is non-existent.
Under the curse of good crops with no meaningful safety net, the current
unprecedented free-fall in commodity prices will certainly take out another
large layer of multigenerational farms. It doesn't take a rocket scientist
to calculate what a 20% or 30% decline in income is doing to an industry
walking a tightrope of cost-price squeeze.
For some 60 or 70 years American farmers survived and prospered the country's
basic industry with a certain feeling of security in the knowledge that
a basic function of the Department of Agriculture was to provide stability.
From the Agricultural Adjustment Act of the 30's to the Agricultural
Stabilization and Conservation Service (recently dropped), several
programs of supply management and price support were utilized to stabilize
farm prices. Despite criticisms, the fact is that most farmers are in
business today as a result of these programs.
Certain elements, especially the agribusiness internationalists, have long
advocated "just get the government out of agriculture." With support
of both political parties, they have changed public policy regarding the
value of family farm agriculture, stability in the industry, and even deeper
American traditions like National sovereignty and independence.
Our forefathers with uncanny foresight saw the wisdom of providing opportunity
for land ownership of this vast land by "multitudes." Now it appears
we have dropped the ball in that an inherited farm will not even support
itself without considerable subsidy.
I am a 66-year-old 7th generation conservative farmer. Is it any wonder
that I feel betrayed when the current structure of agriculture will not
allow the next generation to hold it together?
Take Back the Government
The stock markets are tottering--the Russian ruble is tumbling, and the
scandalmongers are tittering over a stained dress. A stained romance brings
down the Clinton presidency? Who cares!
It didn't take a massive military build up to take down the Soviet Union.
Not a shot was fired, but billions were wasted in military hardware, especially
during the Reagan years.
A massive dose of capitalist greed, a corrupt Russian bureaucracy, and IMF
funding did the job. The losers are, in addition to the Russian people,
the rest of us who saw social programs like universal health care go up
in hot air.
The Democratic Party of FDR has been mortally wounded by a coalition of
Clinton Democrats and a Republican Congress. It's time to rally an angry
and effective coalition to take back the Government for the people.
Replacing Social Security
This letter is in response to Mr. Doerfler's contention that Social Security
in not a retirement program, but an insurance program.
This may have been the original intent 50 years ago, but according to the
Social Security Administration in Washington D.C., the program is both a
retirement and insurance program; however, the number of people drawing
retirement benefits far exceed those using it for death or disability benefits.
I would be happy to find insurance for Mr. Doerfler, for example Quotesmith
quotes a $250,000 Annual Premium for 10 years for a male 35 years of age
for $138. Disability insurance is also available for employees from many
corporations as well as private insurance, although more expensive than
The point is that most competent people can fund retirement and insurance
programs far better and cheaper through the private sector. This could easily
be achieved through mandated matching employer 401K and insurance programs
replacing Social Security. There are always exceptions, but for most folks
Social Security is not a good deal now, and the future appears far worse.
Don't Be Sidetracked
Immorality? President Clinton has been bombarded in the Starr wars battle
that, in my opinion, is an immoral campaign in itself. It seems the Republicans
are pursuing this issue to sidetrack peoples' thinking about the REAL immoral
conditions of the homeless, jobless, lack of health care and social security,
A very immoral thing is the existence of the World Trade Organization that
is controlled by transnational corporations and supercedes our laws. we
seem to be destined for one great president per century. Thomas Jefferson
and his, Abraham Lincoln and his and Franklin Roosevelt and his. I hope
the next century can start with a great one: Paul Wellstone, a proven supporter
of grass-roots peoples' welfare.
I read "Clinton: Make Us Care" [10/98 Editorial] and was rather
disappointed that Cullen is apparently willing to overlook two instances
of perjury, which are felonies, as if they were immaterial. I can assure
you that the average citizen caught under the same circumstances would be
facing a significant jail term. Nothing in the Constitution makes the President
immune from the requirement of truthfulness under oath before any legal
body, let alone one with Grand Jury status.
The second issue regards the never ending subject of support for the "small
farmer", a term which doesn't seem to mean the same thing to any two
people in or out of the farm belt. This subject should have been buried
years ago. Let's face it, just about any objective study by the Government
or by Academics has concluded that the small farmer simply cannot meet the
modern scales of efficiency required today. We should simply not waste the
taxpayers money to subsidize people who want to be farmers, but can't make
it work as a business. Should we next offer a handout to people who want
to play at being a captain of industry by making steel in their garage!
EDITOR REPLIES: If an average citizen can be threatened with
a significant jail term for trying to hide a consensual sexual relationship,
then we ought to raise hell about that invasion of privacy, but after viewing
President Clinton's grand jury testimony I think he split legal hairs but
did not commit perjury. However we will spend the next generation trying
to undo the damage to civil liberties done by "Keyhole Ken" Starr
in his overzealous pursuit of Bill and Hillary Clinton.
As for the myth of the inefficient small farmer, that has been laid to rest
by numerous studies. In fact, some claim that small farmers, as long as
they are properly equipped, are more efficient than large corporate plantations
because they are more likely to protect their land and environment, and
substitute labor for capital. We think the government has a role in ensuring
that farmers get a fair price for their crops and livestock. Price supports
not only help maintain healthy rural communities, but they help ensure a
steady and healthy domestic food supply for consumers.
Farce Becomes Crisis
Having watched the Lewinsky affair evolve from a voyeuristic farce to a
full-blown governmental crisis, I am increasingly concerned with the full
enormity of the situation. Originating with the illegal and immoral taping
of a conversation concerning an entirely private affair and by means of
star chamber proceedings investigating back fence gossip, fabricated charges
that have absolutely nothing to do with abuse of office are thrown to a
recklessly partisan Congressional majority like rotten meat to scavengers.
Taking all of this as a form of entertainment, our nation apparently has
become so obsessed with prurient adolescent sexuality and puritanical nonsense
that it cannot see that our Constitution and the orderly process of government
are under attack.
President Clinton's political fate is not what is most important here; we
are allowing the creation of a foul and intrusive atmosphere that will dissolve
the spirit of toleration and civility that is essential for any democracy
to function. Progressives, Libertarians and individuals that belong to social
and philosophical minorities should beware. President Clinton is justifiably
unpopular with the aforementioned groups and is getting little support from
them. However, the Congressional majority that persecutes President Clinton
today is motivated and spearheaded by the Christian fundamentalist right
who have a much larger agenda. The contemporary Israeli political situation
demonstrates how a small faction that is far to the right of the majority
of the population and quite unrepresentative of it is able to dictate national
policy. The Lewinsky affair is no longer just farce and stinking hypocrisy;
it is a political thrust of a most serious nature. I believe that those
who believe in a free, open and just society must find a way to make their
presence felt soon.
Too Much Testosterone
A familiar, dreary sensation grew as I looked through Progressive Populist
for September, the first issue of my new subscription. Sure enough, 24 of
the bylined names were male; eight were female. (Three others could have
If I want to OD on testosterone, I can read the op-ed page of the New
York Times. Or almost any other periodical.
You are redundant. Suffering succotash!
Editor Replies: We try to present a variety of writers without
regard to testosterone levels. If you have a suggestion, or if you are interested
in writing for The Progressive Populist, write the Editor, Progressive
Populist, PO Box 150517, Austin, TX 78715; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get Internet Active
Anyone in the progressive movement who has ever expressed their opinion
with a letter to a newspaper editor (or an elected official), should consider
using e-mail and other computer resources to accomplish the same goal. Instead
of reaching one politician or editor at a time through traditional letter
writing, e-mail allows you to send the same messages to dozens of places
with the same effort as sending a single traditional letter. Here are some
useful "do-it-yourself" resources for activists:
The Electronic Activist. This site provides direct e-mail links to
every U.S. Senator, Member of Congress and even many local government officials.
Also included are many daily newspaper e-mail addresses along with an extensive
list of tips and campaign strategies for activists. Internet address: http://www.berkshire.net/~ifas/activist/index.html
Media Watchdog. This group monitors the mass media for bias and provides
an extensive collection of online media watch resources, including specific
media criticism articles and information about media watch groups. The emphasis
is on critiquing the accuracy and exposing the biases of the mainstream
media. Contents and links include: Time-sensitive information and action
alerts, media criticism organizations and resources , media criticism articles,
censorship resources, other lists of resources, etc. http://theory.lcs.mit.edu/~mernst/media/#time-sensitive
Votelink. Through this home page, you can register to vote weekly
on various issues. Votelink staff tallies these votes and sends the results
to the news media, Congress and the White House. There are also opportunities
to participate in electronic town meetings. Internet address: http://www.votelink.com/
Progressive Media Services. This is an private organization that
helps progressive groups get their message out to the media. Some of the
services include a database of media e-mail addresses, a research service,
ready-to-use press passes along with other useful resources. Internet address:
World Wide Web Virtual Journalism Library. Here is a huge collection
of links to daily newspapers, magazines, news bureaus, journalism organizations,
etc. Internet address: http://www.cais.com/makulow/vlj.html
RICK SHERIDAN, M.A.
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