Along the Tracks
Northwest Ohio ...
A small town editor's view of the big picture.
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Thursday, February 28, 2002
Personal note: I have the greatest wife in the world - I love you, Jeanne. Despite my stubbornness, wild ideas and plain-old wackiness, she is always there for me and I know she always will be. Thank you, honey.
I told you (in my newspaper column) I'd get back to the heated topic of farm subsidies, and I've just finished the piece, which will appear in the 3/6 edition of The Leader. But I'll give you a bit of a preview here.
A couple numbers for you: Value of total U.S. production of corn, soybeans and wheat in 2000 = $37.7 billion. Total farm subsidies (NOT including conservation and disaster programs) in 2000 = $19.8 billion.
In other words, the federal government could have bought OVER HALF of the big 3 grain production in 2000 with the money it spent on subsidies. Do you know what a long-term, guaranteed contract purchasing that amount of grain would do for prices? Double them, easy, maybe even triple them. How's that for "bang for the buck?"
We could then turn around and ship the federally-purchased grain to the starving masses of the world as (the main) part of our foreign aid program. You think the Third World might appreciate us then?
A contract-based, free market solution to the farm policy program that has the added benefit of saving millions of lives and earning the respect and gratitude of people around the world. Almost sounds too good to be true.
Alas, it will not come to pass anytime soon. It just too easy for legislators to buy votes with government handouts. When it comes to farm policy, all those "free market" senators and representatives quickly turn socialist.
Sorry about the long absence. Back to real Montpelier, Ohio, life, what with three-plus inches of snow, howling wind, crappy Ohio 15, and, yes, a small flock of wild turkeys at Ace Corners (somebody tell Jim Ruetz - we're keeping track of them!). Anyway, hope you like today's (Feb. 26) edition of The Leader. And by the way, if you have any questions, comments, etc., e-mail me (best bet - email@example.com) and I'll do my best.
Right now, an answer to a question that seems to keep popping up:
Why did President Bush put North Korea in the “Axis of Evil,” when we can probably just bribe them out of wanting weapons of mass destruction and selling them to terrorists?
Answer: After terrorists groups like al Qaeda, North Korea is the most immediate threat to American troops and American soil. North Korea has missiles which can reach all of South Korea, Japan and even Alaska. It is estimated they have enough nuclear material for two bombs - the only question there is if they have the technical ability to make a bomb. "Bribing" has been tried, so far to very little avail. The thugs in charge of that nation believe the answer to their dying Communist economy is the takeover of South Korea. What does it all add up to? Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times has a source close to the regime that believes North Korea plans to blackmail the United States into providing whatever it wants (open trade, non-weapons-type nuclear reactors, lots of cash) by threatening to use the missiles and weapons it has. If the U.S. says “no,” the North will blackmail into submission or invade the South. Either way, the U.S. will be facing another war on the peninsula.
Kristof, of course, thinks the Bush Administration has no real policy for North Korea and, therefore, we are marching headlong toward the abyss.
But in fact, there is a method to Bush's supposed madness. By putting the facts out and the pressure on now, W. is forcing the issue to the forefront now, on his timetable, and greatly improving the odds that the North won’t miscalculate and drag us down a slippery slope to a war which would claim tens of thousands, minimum. The North has been clearly told we see what they are trying to set up, and we won't stand for it. By putting the thought in Kim Jung Il's mind that maybe WE would hit him before he's ready to pull off the nasty blackmail scheme, the dictator is more likely to decide negotiation will preserve his rule. Only time will tell if this policy is correct - but it is, in fact, a policy. And it at least offers an alternative to the blackmail setup which has been eight years in the making, thanks to unfullfilled promises North Korea made with - you guessed it - the Clinton Administration.