Archive for July 17th, 2012
The American news media often fails, even in its self-appointed role as stenographer for powerful people. According to Glenn Greenwald,
“many American media outlets, including the NYT, give veto power to the Obama campaign (and, less so, to the Romney campaign), as well as political offices generally, over the quotes of its officials that are allowed to be published. . . . I genuinely do not understand how any self-respecting journalist could even consider agreeing to this. But they do, so much so that it is now widespread custom. I don’t primarily blame the Obama campaign or other politicians for this: it’s natural that they would want to manipulate the American media as much as possible for their own interests and use every instrument, no matter how journalistically unethical, to achieve that. But its extreme use now is reflective of the general fixation which the Obama administration has on secrecy and controlling the flow of information . . .”
Per the National Climate Data Center, the drought in the continental U.S. is the worst in 56 years. As growing your own food is apparently a big issue (Be careful that you don’t piss off your neighbors by living sustainably), expect some seriously jacked prices…while the big boys rake in record profits.
NPR had a segment today on the drought and they talked to a small farmer in Ohio about her crop. Ms. Bryn Bird raises sweet corn. Listen to the segment. At just after the two minute point, she calmly says she’s looking at a $30-40,000 loss this year. And because sweet corn is not a commodity, she can’t get crop insurance!
According to the NY Times, politics is killing the Farm Bill overhaul, but as it stands,
…farmers who grow corn, wheat, soybeans, cotton and other crops receive about $5 billion in direct payments.
$5 billion…whether they grow crops or not…and that’s not even the insurance subsidies. Now, the new bill is supposed to eliminate those direct payments, but the House elephants are divided, so it won’t happen until after the election. I always thought something was wrong with paying people not to grow crops, and I’m not sure how much of the current or future farm bill goes to that specifically, but the U.S. supposedly spent
$7.4 billion last year on federal crop and revenue insurance premium subsidies for farmers.
…and at a minimum, $90 B over the next ten years for insurance premium subsidies.
Meanwhile, the small, real food producers absorb not inconsiderable losses because they can’t get insurance for such unsexy crops as sweet corn. It’s okay to be outraged now.
At The Atlantic, Lawrence Lessig explains that those who run America, those on both the left and the right, are much fewer than the 1%:
[W]e give the tiniest fraction of America the power to veto any meaningful policy change. Not just change on the left but also change on the right. Because of the structure of influence that we have allowed to develop, the tiniest fraction of the one percent have the effective power to block reform desired by the 99-plus percent. Yet by “the tiniest fraction of the one percent” I don’t necessarily mean the rich. I mean instead the fraction of Americans who are willing to spend their money to influence congressional campaigns for their own interest. That fraction is different depending upon the reform at issue: a different group rallies to block health-care reform than rallies to block global warming legislation. But the key is that under the system we’ve allowed to evolve, a tiny number (with resources at least) has the power to block reform they don’t like. A tiny number of Americans — .26 percent — give more than $200 to a congressional campaign. .05 percent give the maximum amount to any congressional candidate. .01 percent give more than $10,000 in any election cycle. And .000063 percent — 196 Americans — have given more than 80 percent of the super-PAC money spent in the presidential elections so far.