Blogs > Liberty and Power > Agricultural Aggravation

Apr 28, 2004 8:47 am

Agricultural Aggravation

Lately, everywhere I look, I keep having the same reaction:"This is insane," I say to myself. Well, here's an example of what I mean.

The New York Timeseditorializes today about the lavish handouts of federal farm subsidies given to American producers, which have created tensions throughout the global market. This is on the heels of another Timesreport detailing the"War on Peruvian Drugs," which takes as its victim the U.S. asparagus industry. Timothy Egan writes:

After 55 years of packing Eastern Washington asparagus, the Del Monte Foods factory ... moved operations to Peru last year, eliminating 365 jobs. The company said it could get asparagus cheaper and year-round there. As the global economy churns, nearly every sector has a story about American jobs landing on cheaper shores. But what happened to the American asparagus industry is rare, the farmers here say, because it became a casualty of the government's war on drugs. To reduce the flow of cocaine into this country by encouraging farmers in Peru to grow food instead of coca, the United States in the early 1990's started to subsidize a year-round Peruvian asparagus industry, and since then American processing plants have closed and hundreds of farmers have gone out of business. One result is that Americans are eating more asparagus, because it is available fresh at all times. But the growth has been in Peruvian asparagus supported by American taxpayers.

Government officials claim it wasn't their"intent" to destroy the American asparagus industry. DAMN those unintended consequences! Meanwhile, the Peruvian Asparagus and Other Vegetables Institute declares:"It is important to understand that the war against drugs is another face of the battle against terrorism, and will be successful only if new legal jobs are created as an alternative to illegal activities." Somebody should tell that Institute that the current"battle against terrorism," apparently, provides no principles by which to forge any war against drugs, since the US government virtually encourages the growth of the opium industry in Afghanistan as a means to stabilize that country in the aftermath of regime change.

Alas, stability won't be achieved anywhere: Not unless the government gets out of the business of subsidizing, prohibiting, regulating, or otherwise ruining various industries and people's lives.

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Keith Halderman - 4/28/2004

Maybe some of the unemployed packing plant workers could open up meth labs.