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June 2008 Archive for John Block Reports from Washington

RSS By: John Block, AgWeb.com

John Block has dedicated his professional career to the fields of agriculture, food and health.

“Lobbyists”

Jun 26, 2008
In the eyes of Barack Obama, and John McCain, Washington lobbyists are radioactive – they are lepers. Obama won’t take a campaign contribution from a lobbyist. McCain won’t employ a lobbyist. Don’t even be seen talking to a “special interest” group. The hysteria over “special interest” groups and lobbyists is silly. It is just political gamesmanship.

I give credit to Senator Clinton. She didn’t join the lobbyist bashing brigade. She pointed out, “you know, a lot of these lobbyists whether you like it or not, represent real people. They represent nurses. They represent social workers, and yes, they represent corporations.”

What does a lobbyist do? A lobbyist tries to make sure the legislative and executive branches of our government don’t do bad things. Bad legislation, damaging regulations. What’s wrong with that? Is it bad that the Farm Bureau or the Corn Growers or the Pork Producers have lobbyists to protect the interests of their members?

The First Amendment of the Constitution gives every citizen the right to petition the government. There are 300 million citizens. To many to all come to Washington to get their voices heard. So, they hire someone to represent them. We had lobbyists when our nation was founded, but there weren’t very many of them. The bigger and more intrusive government gets, the more lobbyists there are. They are here trying to protect their interests. Who knows what the government might do when their back is turned.

Hard to believe but there are 35,000 registered lobbyists in this town. Every side of every issue is represented. Some want to preserve the Bush Tax Cuts. Others want them rescinded. Some want to drill for oil off our shores. Others do not.
Policymakers here in Washington rely on lobbyists. That is how they are able to hear all sides of an issue.

Until next week, I am John Block from Washington.

Listen to the radio broadcast here.

Beef With Korea

Jun 20, 2008
I found it hard to believe as I watched on television the thousands of South Koreans protesting their government’s decision to accept U.S. beef. Come on – are they really afraid that they will get mad-cow disease from eating our beef? That idea is ridiculous. They are obviously misinformed. Their scientists should tell them there is no risk. Their radio, television, and papers should give their citizens the facts.

One of the reasons for their hysteria is that on April 29, a TV news program reported that mad-cow disease may be still present in the U.S. and that American consumers aren’t eating our own beef.

On May 3, a Korean newspaper featured a picture of a little girl holding a candle and a sign saying she didn’t want to die from American beef.

The Korean beef farmers, of course, have joined the protest They don’t want our beef competing with theirs. The whole issue has gotten out of hand. No one is going to get mad-cow disease. We had three diseased cows in our whole country 5 years ago. None since then. No one got sick.

The World Health Organization has set international standards. U.S. beef is judged to be safe. Other countries around the world can’t get enough of our beef. Exports are running 40 percent ahead of last year.

The Korean reaction is irrational. Their protesters are demanding the resignation of their President. The opposition party to President Lee is taking full political advantage of the situation. The U.S.-South Korean free trade agreement, which is yet to be approved by both countries, is in doubt. Can this dispute be successfully resolved? Let’s hope so. South Korea used to be our 3rd biggest beef export market – 800 million dollars.

For now, I’ll just have a big steak myself.

Until next week, I am John Block from Washington.

Listen to the broadcast here.
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