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August 2013 Archive for U.S. Farm Report Mailbag

RSS By: U.S. Farm Report, US Farm Report

Comments, questions, opinions...this is your chance to speak out regarding anything and everything reported on U.S. Farm Report. Viewer feedback updated regularly.

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.


Viewers React: Panther Predators, the Constitution & the Nanny State

Aug 19, 2013

***Editor’s Note: The following comments were received following the August 17-18, 2013 edition of U.S. Farm Report…
#1: John states the founding fathers’ success they had building a workable government should be within our grasp as we improve on their legacy. The problem is we are not improving but dismantling that legacy. Our constitution is prescient and eternally viable to the extent it is based on biblical principles which transcend generations. But concepts such as the right to life, freedom of religion, free speech, personal property and limits to the power of the federal government are under assault as we ignore the thinking behind the constitution and ‘do what’s right in our own eyes’. John Adams said "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." With our worldview, improving their legacy isn’t close being in our grasp. Dave Sauers
#2: I normally always enjoy your shows early Saturday morning, but I take exception to your story about the ranchers losing cattle to the endangered Florida panthers. I am especially bothered by the use of the word "surge" to describe the modest increase in this rare animal that continues to face possible extinction due to habitat loss, being hit by vehicles, invasive Burmese pythons, and other problems. When an animal's numbers are so few that they could become extinct, there is no such thing as a surge in numbers. Although many other cougars roam throughout the U.S., the Florida cougar is a unique sub-species and its loss would be a terrible thing. Sincerely, Gordon Engel - Green Bay, WI
#3: Why does everyone on USFR say the USDA report, no matter what, is wrong? Do you have more resources than USDA or just much smarter people? Also please remember livestock feeders are corn farmers most reliable customers, NOT China or ethanol. Your segment about cellulosic ethanol also applies to corn based ethanol. Ethanol was the governments’ gift to corn farmers, when reality sets in as it always does, corn farmers will go back to living on their subsidy check. Allen Riddle – SC Dairy Farmer
#4: Mr. John, while canning some Pepper Jelly and Pepper Sauce, this weekend I was listening to the show. I was surprised by your comments that leaned toward the "Nanny State" getting the credit for reduced obesity in children, along with scientist attributing their findings toward and along the same train of thought. I will have to mostly disagree. I believe it is the parents that deserve 98% of the credit. The Nanny State in the form of education provided while the parents were in school can get the other 2%. The Parents, along with the good practices of healthy eating and exercise should be given the credit. All the Nanny State can do is to publish pamphlets and newsletters that suggest a certain way of doing things. The parents through research, trial and error can determine what really works best for their children. Education is vital. I believe that implementation is the key. Teaching children to get off the couch and outside, eating fresh fruit and vegetables instead of drinks loaded with HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup), and Little Debbie's tends to lead to a longer healthier life. I believe that Parents would rather decide the course of action that suits their children's needs better, than to be told by some "Nanny State" bureaucrat from a cubicle. Or, could it be that no parent wants their kids to be a spin-off of Honey Boo-Boo...y’all have a Safe an Gud-un now, James A. Heath
#5: The future of Ethanol production should include industrial hemp, not corn stalks and cobs. Fred Lundgren - Katy, TX
#6: I hear a lot about the problem of texting and driving and find it amazing emergency responders can find a person from the GPS unit in their cell phone yet phone companies cannot seem to develop a program which shuts off sending or receiving text while a vehicle is moving. Bill Borne

#7: We watched your Aug.10 program today and were interested on weddings and monies spent. My wife and her family come from a very poor back round of Baptist preacher’s, her fathers’ church was a small and struggling one. I didn't know this but when it came time for them to get her and the church ready for our marriage just about everything was done in the most inexpensive manner. For months my future wife and her family were at garage sales and second hand stores getting decorations and most all the things needed for our special day. Our wedding day was beautiful, they did very well in getting prepared and it was afterward I was told how everything was done. Looking back 18 years ago I am glad our wedding was not a show to impress people but to show our love. My wife loves to tell how the details of getting everything used for the wedding down to the wedding album she spent a few dollars for from a lady at a garage sale who's daughter's wedding didn't take place. We still live a second hand and garage or yard sale life, most all we have has been gotten this way. Our LORD is good - Bob & Lorrie Simon

Viewers React: Throwing Around "Socialism"

Aug 08, 2013


***Editor’s Note: Below is a transcript of last weekend’s "Mailbag" segment from John Phipps on U.S. Farm Report, followed by a number of viewer comments…
Time now for our weekly look inside the Farm Report Mailbag…a viewer takes exception to my comments about the Constitution last week: "Some of us do not think that the Constitution is an outdated document and believe in the freedom that it has afforded us over the first 200 years before Socialism began creeping in." Ira Crumbaugh – Slater, MO
It is currently fashionable in political conversations to inserts the Socialist charge, but I have never found such labels very useful. What we call the American way has evolved, like every other developed nation to include elements many consider socialist but which enjoy widespread popular support. Our system is a mix of Capitalist and Socialist institutions.
I expect many to disagree with my political and economic views, but always find it puzzling that the one policy I talk about the most – our farm policy – never seems to get the Socialist label it clearly deserves.
Even more curious is this income safety net for a few farmers is not considered Socialist by the ag community, while a health care safety net for all Americans is. What’s up with that?
The term is supposed to sting I know, but the cry of "Socialist" has been used so inaccurately and selectively it has been reduced to nearly meaningless. Socialism used to be defined as government ownership of the means of production. Today we toss it around like we used to fling the term "Communist". Mostly I think it has become an epithet to use that everyone thinks we all agree on, but actually don’t.
This week during testimony to Congress concerning tax reform, a small business owner urged Congressman to do away with "all the deductions that don’t affect me." In a similar way, I think Socialism is now best defined as government programs that help other people.
#1: You missed my point completely which is don't ruin a pretty good farm news program by inserting your political views. However, continuing the discussion, socialism is still socialism and communism is still communism no matter how much lipstick you put on the pig. Ira Crumbaugh - Slater, MO
#2: I just got done listening to the response to Ira Crumbaugh's letter about "socialism creeping in"....I have to say it was a Wonderful response!!!! I hope that I can find this piece on your site to upload on my Facebook for all to see and that it gets the recognition that it deserves. It was a delight to hear such a rational response in this day and age of name calling and fear infested journalism. To see and hear someone like your journalist is something that is rare and delightful. Too many of us are polarized by media. Bravo! You were rational and very matter of fact. This country needs more common sense people in the media, like your journalist, to speak up and help bring back the unity we need to make this country the great country it should be. We are in this together....Teri Schneider
#3: Sir, I am not a farmer but a born and raised city boy, however, I am a Political Scientist and a regular viewer of your show and your conversation regarding Socialism and the Constitution interested me. You are correct when you say that the farming subsidies are a form of Socialism, just like Obamacare. It is the same type of Corporate Welfare that is extended to places like J.P. Morgan and is not a part of the American system of Capitalism. Remember Capitalism? Most rural folks, a.k.a. the "flyover" states are made up of social conservatives. The Socialist label is thrown around so often, and sometimes mistakenly because of the increasingly secular influence of Liberals/Progressives a.k.a. Little Socialists in training perhaps out of frustration of the eroding of our nation’s moral values. It is a culture war that is waged on a political, cultural and economic front. It is a "battle" to transform our nation in progress that we are observing. You also mentioned that Socialism was/is defined as government control of the means of production. You are correct. However, since Bush used Socialism to bail out Capitalism in the market crash of 2008, by his own admission, and since Obama busted that door open, the Federal Government now controls more than 51% of the U.S. Economy, and with the full implementation of Obamacare coming, and the move toward a single payer system, which has been the goal all along, the Federal Government’s control will be significantly higher than it currently is. One thing you do not mention is the FABIAN Socialist movement, which is a gradual transition to Socialism from within the current political and economic system by those with a Socialist bent. The leadership of this country on the Left, is a virtual encyclopedic definition of this movement. Obama himself is a prime example. Finally, regarding your initial argument that the Constitution is a "living document" is a traditional claim of the Progressive movement. However, John Locke and Montesquieu whom Jefferson and the Founders borrowed from heavily, viewed the Constitution as a mechanization of government and NOT a Living Document. That is "Classic Liberalism", or the Conservative movement as it is called today. That is the "American way" as defined by our Founders. Although I disagree with you I respect the way in which you voice your opinion and it is refreshing in this day and age when civility seems to have abandoned the political discourse. As the old Chinese curse stated, "may you live in interesting times" seems to be true of our nation today. Thank you for hearing me out. Sincerely, Tom Greene - Aliso Viejo, CA
#4: As one of those protected by the socialist programs, I receive SSI, SNAP and Medicaid, I wanted to say thanks John. Comments from people like Ira anger me, as if only they understand the constitution. Love the show, have watched for years. Glad to hear publically from someone who gets it. Please keep up the good work. Thanks. Dean Franklin - Madison, FL


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