Socialism for Texas Farmers by Jacob G. Hornberger

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Socialism for Texas Farmers by Jacob G. Hornberger

Texas farmers are suffering severe drought conditions. Thus, it should come as no surprise that Congress has decided to help them out with U.S. taxpayer dollars to the tune of around $600 million. It should also come as no surprise that Republicans are as energized about sending this welfare as Democrats are. It’s just another reflection of the socialist, paternalist, welfare-state mindset that pervades both political parties.

It wasn’t always that way, of course. Americans once lived in a country in which this sort of thing was unfathomable. The idea of using government to tax people in order to send the money to other people was considered a moral abomination.

Consider, for example, President Grover Cleveland, a Democrat.

In 1887, Texas farmers were suffering the same severe drought conditions that today’s Texas farmers are suffering. Reflecting the early stages of the move toward socialism and paternalism that would culminate in the 1930s under Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, a majority in Congress enacted the Texas Seed Bill, which gave a welfare grant of $10,000 to the Texas farmers.

Cleveland vetoed the bill. Yes, he was a Democrat who vetoed that welfare bill.

Why did he do that?

Because he believed that it was not the proper role of government to use its taxing power to take money from one person in order to give it to another person. Cleveland believed that government should have absolutely nothing to do with charity. He felt that the helping of others belonged in the private sector.

Consider what he said in his veto message to Congress:

I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution; and I do not believe that the power and duty of the General Government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit. A prevalent tendency to disregard the limited mission of this power and duty should, I think, be steadily resisted, to the end that the lesson should be constantly enforced that, though the people support the Government, the Government should not support the people.

In his article, “Why Grover Cleveland Vetoed the Texas Farm Bill,” economic historian Robert Higgs writes: Cleveland went on to point out that “the friendliness and charity of our countrymen can always be relied on to relieve their fellow citizens in misfortune,” and indeed that “individual aid has to some extent already been extended to the sufferers mentioned in this bill.” Further, he suggested that if members of Congress really wanted to send seed to the suffering Texans, the congressmen might personally carry out this charitable transfer by using the seed routinely provided to all members for distribution to their constituents (at an expense of $100,000 in that fiscal year).

As Higgs also pointed out, Cleveland’s views reflected the free-enterprise views of other Democrats and, indeed, of mainstream Americans. Higgs quotes historian Richard Welch, who described those Democrats:

They were convinced of the superiority of free enterprise to any other economic system; they defined “reform” in terms of improvements in public morality and administrative efficiency; they advocated “sound money” and the preservation of the gold standard — but these convictions were shared by a majority of middle-class Americans. It is false to the historical context of Gilded Age America to see such concerns as indicative of collusion with big business.

Where are those Cleveland Democrats today? Well, they are certainly not in the Democrat Party, which continues to embrace the welfare state way of life notwithstanding its manifest failure and destructiveness and the out-of-control federal spending and borrowing that has come with it.

Alas, however, they’re also not within the Republican Party. Even as they decry President Obama’s socialism and spout their pro-free-enterprise libertarian mantras, Republicans are the ones who are leading the charge for sending federal money to the Texas farmers. No, they’re not making donations from their own generous congressional salaries. They sending the money that the IRS forcibly extracts from hard-pressed American taxpayers. After all, it’s election time, which means “pass out the candy” time. No doubt both the Republicans and the Democrats will be reminding voters of how good and caring they have once again proven to be with their welfare grant for Texas farmers. Of course, they’ll also be telling voters how terrible it is that the federal government is spending and borrowing so much money.

Today the people who are genuinely committed to free enterprise, private property, sound money, and limited government are libertarians. Government has no more business giving money to Texas farmers than it does giving money to Texas preachers. That simply is not a legitimate role of government in a free society. Charity should be as separate from the state as religion is.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation.

LysanderSpooner's picture
LysanderSpooner
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Comments

This is the at least the third full article from this Hornberger guy that you've posted, and in each article, Jacob Hornberger doesn't seem to have any solutions to any of the problems that he's addressing. This means that his only role is to pass off nonsense in opinion pieces because he doesn't actually know what he's talking about.

He needs to offer some solutions if he's going to complain about a problem. What is the solution here? Let Texas dry up, go broke and die? Is Mr. Hornberger asking for multibillion-dollar corporations to bail out the farmers so that the needed help comes from the private sector instead of the public? What is his answer to his own problem?

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JTaylor
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Mar. 19, 2012 2:04 pm

Some understand that if a drought drives farmers from the land....everyone pays for it in higher food prices. Might as well call it a "drought tax". it's probably more useful to keep the farmer on the farm, keeping his fences and buildings in repair, etc., so when the drought is over, the drought tax ceases quickly.

Or, we can do like third world countries. Put them up in city slums where their backgrounds and educational skils have no use what-so-ever.

In either event, the taxpayer pays for it. Might as well pay for it in a humane manner and get something out of it besides more slum dwellers, decrepit farms and higher food prices.

The General Welfare clause in the Constitution means just that. The General Welfare...a government function.

Political Parties change. Dems weren't always known as the "party of the people". Republicans once carried that banner. Now neither do if you care to look.

At least one offers a wee bit of sugar to make the bitter medicine go down. The other suggests you buy your own with an empty wallet.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote JTaylor:

This is the at least the third full article from this Hornberger guy that you've posted, and in each article, Jacob Hornberger doesn't seem to have any solutions to any of the problems that he's addressing. This means that his only role is to pass off nonsense in opinion pieces because he doesn't actually know what he's talking about.

He needs to offer some solutions if he's going to complain about a problem. What is the solution here? Let Texas dry up, go broke and die? Is Mr. Hornberger asking for multibillion-dollar corporations to bail out the farmers so that the needed help comes from the private sector instead of the public? What is his answer to his own problem?

Mr Hornberger is a native Texan, former ACLU member, was a trial attorney for 12 years, VMI graduate. He is fluent in Spanish and defends open immigration. He is the Founder and President of The Future of Freedom Foundation. It's principles are listed below.

Here's his list of articles offering commentary and solutions.

Mission

The mission of The Future of Freedom Foundation is to advance freedom by providing an uncompromising moral and economic case for individual liberty, free markets, private property, and limited government

Declaration of Principles

The United States was founded on the principles of individual freedom, free markets, private property, and limited government. As the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution reflect, individuals have the natural and God-given right to live their lives any way they choose, so long as their conduct is peaceful. It is the duty of government to protect, not destroy, these inherent and inalienable rights.

Thus, for well over a century, the American people said "No" to such anti-free-market government policies as income taxation, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, immigration controls, economic regulations, drug laws, gun control, public schooling, and foreign wars. Despite the tragic exception of slavery, the result was the most prosperous, healthy, literate, and compassionate society in history. Unfortunately, in the 20th century, our country has moved in an opposite direction. Operating through the IRS, DEA, ATF, INS, FDA, FTC , and a multitude of other bureaucracies, our government has waged immoral and destructive wars on our freedom, our property, and our well-being.

It has seduced us into believing that we cannot live without this political paternalism. It has weakened our moral fiber and our sense of self-reliance, self-esteem, voluntary charity, and community. It has damaged our families. It has hurt the poorest people in society. It has turned foreigners into enemies. It has trampled on our Constitution. It has undermined our commitment to the moral foundations of freedom and to the benefits of free markets.

The time has come for us to reevaluate our relationship to our government — to repeal, not reform, these immoral and destructive government programs — to recapture our commitment to the principles of free markets, private property, voluntary charity, and limited government that made our nation great — and to believe in ourselves again. It is time for us once again to lead the world to the highest reaches of freedom in history. It is to this end that The Future of Freedom Foundation is dedicated.

LysanderSpooner's picture
LysanderSpooner
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

One: Markets aren't free. They never have been under our system. They were "free" under the reciprocal market system that disappeared for the most part in the 1600's...violently forced from the world stage. I'd suggest you read the social/economic historian Karl Polanyi.

Two: Slaves were private property. We had a war over the inviolability of private property rights. Property owners lost. They violated a higher right. I see a few more such losses on the horizon.

The financial "property" owners will probably have to collapse the whole globe before that loss of property rights takes place. They are well along the way to doing that. They are violating a higher right. Life and those things needed to sustain it.

Three; One of the reasons this nation was founded was to promote the General Welfare. It's in the Declaration of Independence...why the nation was founded There is also a General Welfare clause within the Constitution itself.

Don't libertarians know how to read or publish anything except their own ideology? Ideologies, by the way are based on beliefs...not "truths" Wishful thinking is wishful thinking. However, the word for truth is truth.

What's so is what's so regardless of what an ideology or belief has to say about it.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

This is the end

beautiful friend, the end

Of our elaborate plans, the end

Of everything that stands, the end...

Quote LysanderSpooner:

It is to this end that The Future of Freedom Foundation is dedicated.

The killer awoke before dawn,

He turned his computer on

he took a face from the ancient galley, and he typed monkey-type to one and all

For Jim, (deceased)

anonymous green
Joined:
Jan. 5, 2012 11:47 am

Actually, in this area of Texas, it's the dry land farmers that have had the problem. With the rains in the spring time (higher than average this year), the irrigating farmers have done OK. My wife and I have noticed that much of the dry land farming that has suffered the most is corn. I don't know. More corn does appear to have been planted in this area than in previous years Maybe it's just me but I'm suspecting a deeper plot here. The farmers were paid to plant corn as a way to supplement the biofuel industry (remember that big 'bipartisan issue'?). The government paid them to add it to the oil--maybe the government is paying them to take it away. In the meantime, it's probably also going to affect the food supply......but, again, I wonder if there was a surge in planting more corn this year all over the country....but, now, the price of oil isn't high enough for the speculators...

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Kerry
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Well, bio-fuels are a window-dressing attempt to handle developing oil shortages and emmissions problems. If we'd use every sq. inch of agricultural land, we could probably do without oil.

Corn crop failures across much of the nation will have an effect on food costs. Our industrialized animal-raising relies on it. Even the price of many candies will go up. The main ingredient is corn syrup...added to even peanut butter, jellies, soft drinks, baked goods, etc.

Corn is our prime food source...converted into other foods, like eggs, milk or beef, etc. or eaten directly as a corn product.

The nearly 2 billion chickens raised annually in the U.S. rely on the stuff. They no longer get the bulk of their food from foraging. Not much to forage in a cage. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poultry_farming

Ditto cattle raised in feed lots or the bulk of our pigs that are raised in cages.

Without abundant and cheap oil energy to support industrial agriculture, we'd need 50 million farmers to feed the nation. That translates into something like 40% of working-age adults most of whom have no clue how to grow a simple bean plant. An energy crises transposes to an agricultural crises...a food crises sometimes referred to as famine. Adding drought to that isnt a good thing.

The 2020's will look much different than the 2010's if we don't begin quickly addressing things that need addressing.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease".

polycarp2
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote polycarp2:

One: Markets aren't free. They never have been under our system.

So. That doesn't mean they can't be free. Or that my goal shouldn't be to make them free.

Quote polycarp2:

Two: Slaves were private property. We had a war over the inviolability of private property rights. Property owners lost. They violated a higher right. I see a few more such losses on the horizon.

They were treated as private property. But they weren't. The War was not fought over slavery. Read Thomas DiLorenzo.

Quote polycarp2:

The financial "property" owners will probably have to collapse the whole globe before that loss of property rights takes place. They are well along the way to doing that. They are violating a higher right. Life and those things needed to sustain it.

To call our current system any sort of private property based economy is ludicrous. It is because the human right to own property isn't being protected by the government (one of it's jobs), that we are in the mess we're in

Quote polycarp2:

Three; One of the reasons this nation was founded was to promote the General Welfare. It's in the Declaration of Independence...why the nation was founded There is also a General Welfare clause within the Constitution itself.

Look up the word "general" and look up the word "specific". They're not the same. The General Welfare clause was not a general grant of power. Article 1, Section 8 lists the powers the General Gov't has pursuant to promoting the General Welfare.

Quote polycarp2:

Don't libertarians know how to read or publish anything except their own ideology? Ideologies, by the way are based on beliefs...not "truths" Wishful thinking is wishful thinking. However, the word for truth is truth.

What's so is what's so regardless of what an ideology or belief has to say about it.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

There's nothing wrong with ideology. There is,however, economic law. Which someone always gets in the way of the plans of statists like yourself.

Ideology is not disease. Look up the words in a dictionary.

LysanderSpooner's picture
LysanderSpooner
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

From another thread:

I don't assume that private ownership of natural resources is the best way to go. It's a dead horse I no longer care to ride. What's it given us? We're on the verge of environmental and resource collapse. I also don't assume that government is the best steward. Native American's didn't have either application. Different world-view. It takes a paradigm shift to see it. A paradigm shift is probably the most difficult thing there is for a human being to accomplish.

---------

My view doesn't exist in the box most people trap themselves in, and definately isn't statist though under the current paradigm government is the only mediator available. That doesn't mean I prefer it.

I'd really like to drown government in a bathtub, HOWEVER, under our current economic/social/cultural paradigm and property relationships, that would be committing suicide. On the other hand, current government has been so captured by special interests, it's no longer an honest mediator. If we don't change that, it could be suicide as well.

Lysander wrote: There's nothing wrong with ideology. There is,however, economic law. Which someone always gets in the way of the plans of statists like yourself

poly replies: I'm not a statist...explained above. The only thing wrong with ideologies is that none are based on what's actually so. People operate under the assumptions that they are "truths" ....and debate falsehoods...one falsehood no better than the other.

i·de·ol·o·gy   /ˌaɪdiˈɒlədʒi, ˌɪdi-/ Show Spelled[ahy-dee-ol-uh-jee, id-ee-] Show IPAnoun, plural i·de·ol·o·gies. 1. the body of doctrine, myth, belief, etc., that guides an individual, social movement, institution, class, or large group--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Acting out on ideas that have no basis in reality is one definition of mental illness. "Disease"

I participate out of a lack of opportunity to discuss what's actually so in my daily world, and sometimes inject it into the discussions. It's usually mis-interpreted in order to fit the current paradigm...world-views most share and their ideologies (myths)..

If you told a peasant 400 years ago that he didn't need a king, he'd shudder and ask, "How can that possibly be so?" Reactions to what I post are often sort of like that.

If you take a look at history, what you'll find is that most Native Americans societies beat libertarians to the punch without the ideological economic garbage that makes it unworkable. While their weak, mostly ceremonial governments are my preference, under our structures and world-view they wouldn't work.

Change the world view....and the economic and property structures will mold themselves to fit it. Libertarians are attempting to change one while maintaining the other as it is. An exercise in folly. Early libertarians like Tucker had a glimmering of that. The current batch doesn't.

I agree with a lot of early libertarian views...and reject the ideological nonsense that's become attached to them.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease".

polycarp2
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote LysanderSpooner:

It wasn’t always that way, of course. Americans once lived in a country in which this sort of thing was unfathomable. The idea of using government to tax people in order to send the money to other people was considered a moral abomination.

America was built on welfare - land stolen from Indians - or bought from other theives - and given to the citizens. It was the greatest welfare plan ever proposed. And it was well timed - the technology of the time land was the most important input. Consider this - you could not do this today - there is no great wealth of productive assets that a government could provide to it's citizens.

Further, our government was entirely funded by tarriffs. If you actually had the kind of global competition (in part tarriffs, but mainly in technology) in 1900 that you have today - our country would never have indusrialized - since foreign labor would be so cheap.

And agriculture? It was our only industrial policy - and our greatest of successes. There were colleges, research, subsidies, price supports, and the rest of it. Agriculture went from 90% of the workforce to 2%, and now accounts for our only major 'manufacturing' export. Much of it due in many cases to water subsidies to California and other places.

But what of the Texas farmers? Well, I am glad many of them survived. Perhaps you are not.

Dr. Econ's picture
Dr. Econ
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote LysanderSpooner:Socialism for Texas Farmers by Jacob G. Hornberger

I just noticed the title of Hamburger's article implying that socialism amounts to providing charity to farmers.

Only a true, verifiable nut case would ever make that claim.

Government charity preceeds Socialism by a millenium or more.

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Dr. Econ
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Currently Chatting

First Columbia took on their drug lords, now they're taking on their billionaires...why can't we?

America’s billionaires are driving this nation’s poverty epidemic. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

As we speak, working-class Americans are getting screwed over by policies that favor the wealthy elite, and leave everyone else in the dust. As a result, more and more Americans are living in poverty.

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