How to legally buy votes

November 2020


In 1950, my older cousin, who had lived with my family for more than a decade, married a farmer from California who had been stationed at Newport while serving in the Navy.

She immediately moved to his family farm, near Bakersfield, and started sending us clips from publications we had never heard of, claiming that the federal government was loaded with Communists. She became the first anti-government advocate in my family.

When she and her husband came back to Boston for a visit one summer I was surprised to find him sitting at the dining room table planning his next year’s crops based on what the federal government was subsidizing. He told us that farming was not profitable without federal subsidies.

Today’s (10-20) Wall Street Journal shows me that things haven’t changed. Farmers may say they like smaller government, but they vote for the government that gives them the best subsidies.

In July 2016, Farm Futures magazine surveyed its readers and found that 72% of them planned to vote for Trump. This year, the same survey found that 76% were planning to vote for Trump.

This is despite all the damage to farmer’s revenue created by Trump’s tariff war with China and other foreign policy gaffes. Farmers told the Journal that a Biden presidency would bring stricter environmental regulations and higher taxes.

They did not mention any of these facts:

  • US farm income this year is projected to be $102.7 billion, 65% higher than in 2016.
  • Fully one third of that income is from government payments. That’s up from 21% when Trump took office.
  • The USDA will pay a record $37.2 billion to farmers to soften the impact of the pandemic.
  • The Trump administration has reduced environmental regulations, saving farmers money and further degrading our environment.
  • The 2017 tax cut reduced hog farmers average tax rate to 16.3% from nearly 20%.

It’s all about the money.

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