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See the latest reader comments and hear John explain some of agriculture’s complex topics.
Viewers Speak (Loudly): Government Spending & "The Nanny State"
Aug 28, 2013
***Editor’s Note: The following comments were received following the August 24-25, 2013 edition of U.S. Farm Report…
Viewer Comment #1: How is it that you've become such a fan of our out-of-control-spending government? (I'm referring to your recent comment on the government bail outs) Also, I was so surprised to hear you are against the farmers getting subsidies - you farmers provide the best and most reasonable food in the world, why shouldn't there be subsidies? I've always been an advocate for farmers so it was hard to understand your comments on this. My friends, who criticized my position on this, have been quick to let me know what your stand on farm subsidies is now. I still stand by my belief. I don't miss a program and will continue to watch even though I'm disappointed. Carol Kirkhorn
Viewer Comment #2: John - Your laudatory comments about the use of TARP (taxpayer) funds to bail out GM were not complete. Yes, the government (again, taxpayers) hold stock in GM. The bailout was structured by the President to keep the union whole. Most pension funds don't survive bankruptcies intact; they go to the PBGC to be administered. At the same time, the bond-holders and stock-holders were stiffed. As for the stock held by taxpayers, the price would have to rise to somewhere around $95 per share to break even; it closed Friday at $35.06. Let's keep the government out of the private sector. Keep up the good work. I watch US Farm Report every Saturday. Best regards, Dave Bredhold
Editor’s Note: Below is a transcript of John’s commentary referenced above…
JOHN’S WORLD: Remember the TARP – the Troubled Asset Relief Plan? It’s also been called the "bailout" and several other names we can’t mention on TV. Anyway, those hundreds of billions that the Bush Administration threw at the financial panic in 2008 and which were followed by additional aid under President Obama have been a source of ire for many citizens. Well, a funny thing has been happening. According to the bailout tracker, a non-political watchdog, all that money we thought had been thrown away has been slowly returning home. Of the 608 billion dollars disbursed by the government, 500 billion has been returned in the form of paybacks or dividends or interest. This unexpected recovery is all the more surprising since the government still has hundreds of assets left to liquidate, like some of the General Motors stock. In fact, of the 780 investments made, about 500 have made a profit, 86 have shown a loss, and about 200 are still held. This is all the more amazing since billions were given out as subsidies, not investments to be paid back. The U.S. invested 187 billion dollars in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and may never be returned, but those agencies have paid 132 billion dollars in dividends to the treasury. Our bureaucrats managed to do what few others did – they bought low and sold high. In short, despite the belief government can’t do anything right the bailout could be one of the best investments made by anyone since 2008. And it just coincidentally likely prevented depression.
Viewer Comment #3: Mr. Phipps, Another excellent episode. Thank you. I look forward to downloading the podcast each week. You have been engaging in a discussion about who should get the credit for childhood obesity; the state or parents. I would, respectfully, suggest that you are getting way ahead of yourself. Childhood obesity from '08-'11 only declined in 18 states. In others it increased, stayed the same, or we don't have enough data. Those numbers are for low income preschoolers only. The rates of obesity in high school students are not showing improvement, yet. This is going to be a long struggle to produce generational change. Lets' check back in 20 years. If you're right, we'll discuss who gets what percentage of the credit. I hope you are. Respectfully, Vincent Prevatte - Cheraw, SC
Viewer Comment #4: Your commentary (August 17) asks "If the problem is caring for our children, is Nanny such a bad idea?" The answer is a resounding yes, it is a very bad idea. In North Carolina a girl brought her lunch to school. It consisted of a turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, apple juice and potato chips which was deemed unhealthy because it did not meet USDA guidelines. The school took the lunch away, replaced it with chicken nuggets and then billed the family for the meal. Where does the government get the power to replace a meal and then charge for it because it doesn’t like what you are eating? They get it from people who don’t think a Nanny state is such a bad idea! The Nanny doesn’t know about a child’s health issues or allergies. (what if the lunch was replaced by something peanut-based that the child was allergic to?) We as a nation are ceding our responsibilities to care for our children. Your Nanny idea isn’t about lunches it’s about liberty and getting control of our children. For someone who professes to advocate limited government intervention when it comes to farm legislation, why do you want to give the government control of your grandchildren? Dave Sauers
Viewer Comments #5: Sir, You are a Nanny Stater. It is repulsive to me since it runs counter to the concept of individual responsibility. It runs counter to the concept of the rugged individualist. It is this constant "wussification", this safety net for all, protect everyone from everything including themselves. Dear Lord, where does it stop?! I say enough is enough. I have terminal cancer and do not rely upon the government for help. I take care of myself and look for no extra considerations. My mother’s side of the family came here after WWI and made a living for themselves with no help. My grandfather worked until he was 81 and wanted to keep working. He was strong as an ox. Never a wealthy man, he was a success, because he did it on his own and raised all of his to do the same. Sorry, I am just so sick of the Gov’t intervention in our lives. If you are prone toward obesity or alcoholism, then stop that behavior, the gov’t. regulating you won’t change that. I have the utmost respect for farmers and ranchers, but not those that want a safety net for their risks. Sincerely, Tom Greene - Aliso Viejo, CA
***Editor’s Note: Below is a transcript of the Mailbag segment referenced above…
"Time now for our weekly look inside the Farm Report Mailbag. I figured mentioning the "Nanny State" might trip some triggers, and it did…including this counter-argument from James Heath: "I was surprised by your comments that leaned toward the "Nanny State" getting the credit for reduced obesity in children. I will have to mostly disagree. I believe it is parents that deserve 98% of the credit." James – if you check back what I said was while we really don’t know why this trend is changing, many of the factors like school lunches and obesity education are in fact government actions, so I think it is likely that like government regulations against smoking, years from now some if not much of the credit will go to those rules. To be sure, I agree with you that parents deserve the final pat on the back, but it seems to me that much of what they did was in response to vigorous efforts by the CDC to raise the alarm and the Ag Department to provide dietary guidelines, to list just two efforts. I was reaching for humor at the end when I linked the term "nanny" to the idea of caring for our children. But frankly the term is now a code word meaning anything but the thoughtful care for a child-minder. Such terms don’t help our political discourse. The "Nanny State" could be used to describe crop insurance subsidies, rural water grants, or the mortgage interest deduction. I think it is more useful to look at government spending program by program.