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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

What DC’s student loan and farm bills have in common

When considering how Congress has been running since Obama became president, one can’t help but ponder if the student loan bill and farm bill will eventually just have to be passed so that American can see what’s in them. Though neither of these are the size of the Obamacare bill, they certainly have the potential to become a crisis that DC libs won’t be wasting – especially with 2012 being an election year.

The student loan bill will be reaching crisis level first. As the House and Senate haggle over just how the meltdown of student loan interest rates will be contained, the proverbial needle moves steadily into the red warning zone of July 1. Democrats want the 6.8 percent hike paid for by a hike in the payroll taxes of private companies, according to CBS News. More specifically their Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes. Reid claims these companies are made up of “wealthy tax dodgers” anyway, and so taxing the very ones who can create jobs for all the unemployed college students is just the way to go. What a wonderfully logical plan: two bankrupt systems paying for another bankrupt system. Don’t you love how consistent the Dems are in their Keynesian economic thinking?

On the other hand, the Republicans want to pay for one bankrupt system with part of an illegitimate system that’s never had any true funding: Obamacare. Can you tell it’s an election year and America is one hot, economic mess?

The other closely looming crisis that won’t be wasted is the Farm bill. According to a video at AG Web, five year cyclical bill has a rather significant impact on SNAP (formerly food stamps), and a Huffington Post article from 2010 points out the major impact on “the efficiency of direct payments, disaster relief programs, crop insurance and conservation programs.”

Another interesting thing about the Farm bill is that is fits snugly into the green agenda of the global warming crowd in that there may be some fresh discussion regarding “an expanded ‘green payments’ program, which would reward farmers for environmental stewardship instead of placing the incentives on overproduction.”

This has the potential to open the door to the nationalization of the agricultural industry. And it’s not like such a thing hasn’t been done before. Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez would be a relatively recent case in point. In October of 2010, Breitbart reported that Chavez planned a government take-over of Venezuela’s agricultural industry, and he started it with “the nationalization of land owned by a subsidiary of British meat products company Vestey, as he called for ‘acceleration of the agrarian revolution.’” The article goes on to state that “Chavez called for the acceleration of nationalizing agricultural assets across the country in coming months, including land and property owned by Venezuelan farming technology company Agroislena.

His reasoning is that such a government take-over will, “Free the land, free the slave labor, feed our people.” Keep in mind here that Chavez thinks that capitalism is why Venezuela has economic problems, and that nationalization is the solution to those economic issues.

There was a great deal of discussion about a bill nicknamed cap and trade back in 2010. When all the attention died down and some even declared it dead, it was quietly renamed “Nationwide Renewable-Electricity Standard,” or RES. Some may remember all the talk about the purchase of carbon permits and how damaging something like that would be to farms (and other industries) if it were implemented. When one considers that the Obama administration has already made moves to nationalize the healthcare industry through Obamacare and the banking industry through the Wall Street Reform legislation; it’s not that much of a stretch to consider the possibility of an attempt to nationalize the agricultural industry and even the energy industry.

The idea of “rewarding stewardship” through a “greener” environment can be connected to the Environmental Protection Agency; an organization that has set a goal for 59 million acres of farmland to be converted to forests within 40 years. A computerized economic model indicates that the move would be more profitable than producing food, but the profits would be the result of fewer crops, which would then drive up prices. A USA Today article from August of 2009 claims that both pasture and farm fields would be replaced with about 18 million acres of new trees by 2020, which would be “roughly the size of West Virginia.”

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has ordered his staff to revise the information projected by the Forest and Agricultural Sector Optimization Model (FASOM) which has caused considerable concern among the farmers and ranchers. Vilsack stated that “If landowners plant trees to the extent that the model suggests, this would be disruptive to agriculture in some regions of the country.” At the time, he pointed out that there were options not added in the cap and trade bill that would have increased the income of farmers as they continued producing food. The omissions caused the model to overestimate the actual effect of planting new forests.

Vilsack instructed his chief economist to collaborate with the EPA, review the model, update it, and develop options that would help prevent “unintended consequences for agriculture that might result from climate change legislation.”

Interestingly, back during the Great Depression there was a federal government project that involved planting acres of trees. According to a US history website , it was part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal program. The idea was to “recruit thousands of unemployed young men, enlist them in a peacetime army, and send them to battle the erosion and destruction of the nation’s natural resources. More than any other New Deal agency, the CCC (Civilian Conservation Core) is considered to be an extension of Roosevelt’s personal philosophy.” The proposed plan was rushed through the approval process, and the CCC gained the nickname of “Roosevelt’s Tree Army”. Since most of the unemployed people were on the east side of the nation and most of the work was on the west side, people were shipped off to work camps to perform the work. California alone had 150 camps. The website also states that, “The War Department mobilized the nation’s transportation system to move thousands of enrollees from induction centers to work camps.”

The article goes on to state that, “By 1935, however, there was, in the words of CCC director Fechner, a ‘complete segregation of colored and white enrollees,’ but ‘segregation is not discrimination.’” In addition, “An important modification became necessary early in 1933. It extended enlistment coverage to about 14,000 American Indians whose economic circumstances were deplorable and had mostly been ignored. Before the CCC was terminated, more than 80,000 Native Americans were paid to help reclaim the land that had once been theirs” (emphasis added). One could replace the words “American Indians” with “Illegal immigrants” and see yet another connection. One of the few requirements for participation was that a person had to be a US citizen – but then making all illegal immigrants legal through immigration reform could easily solve that problem. Even veterans were eventually granted enrollment into the program.

When 1941 rolled around, the CCC seemed to lose its importance, mainly because of the improved economy. Therefore, “A joint committee of Congress recommended that the CCC be abolished by July 1, 1942. Technically, however, the corps was never abolished. Congress simply refused it any additional money. Eventually, $8 million was set aside to cover all costs of liquidation, and the War Department, Labor Department, and Civil Aeronautics Administration were given first opportunity to acquire CCC properties. The War Department claimed the majority of the equipment” (emphasis added). The CCC seems to have a positive place in history and the record seems to show that many good things were done for the country through that organization. However, there are some aspects of the program that also seem as though they could lead to a repeat of the horrors of Nazi Germany and the holocaust when put in the hands of a dictatorial government – or even one whereby its representatives are not listening to the voice of the majority of its citizens.

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