Rich Republicans decry the government dole, except when it comes their way…

February 19, 2012

Those Republicans who are so adamant and vociferous about getting government out of our lives and not being dependent upon it and for goodness sake keeping its hands off business in the best laissez-faire tradition are often quite the hypocrites, don’t ya know?

My California State Assemblyman, Republican Doug LaMalfa, belongs to a rice-growing family. That family received $4.7 million in federal subsidies over the past 15 years in connection with their farming, I read in my local Record-Searchlight newspaper online site . So let me get this straight Mr. LaMalfa, it’s okay for the government to fork over money to rich farmers but not to help poor people. Of course, as all of those rich people on the government dole would argue, they deserve it for their efforts are and it helps the economy.

Well there is something to the it-helps-the-economy argument. The rice-growing industry in Northern California creates a lot of jobs, to include those who work for farmers and those who supply and provide various services to the farmers and all the related businesses that go with it, to include all the retail outlets that benefit from the turn over of dollars in the local communities.

In fact, I hauled at least one load of rice in the early days of my trucking career. Another driver and I team drove a semi loaded with bagged rice from Richvale, where the LaMalfa headquarters are (maybe it was theirs), and went across the United States, some 3,000 miles, to Connecticut with it. So there you have it. I gained from the federally-subsidized rice business.

But that is just it. The Republicans are complaining about the Obama stimulus program, weak that it has been overall, and are saying free enterprise needs to get government out of its way and stand on its own. And Mr. LaMalfa is as hard-right Republican as you can get.

He’s running for the U.S. Congress now. Cut aid to poor families, but save it for his family, he’ll probably argue.

(Right now, LaMalfa is actually facing political attack over his family’s windfall from the feds from his Republican opponents. His Democratic contender indicates he is just holding back until maybe LaMalfa starts railing against federal stimulus or something.)

Government subsidized farming is a mixed bag (of rice — just could not resist that). It does provide stability in an economic activity that is highly volatile when it comes to prices. And it is hard to switch from one kind of production to another when so much of the equipment one must use is specialized. And it is probably hard to get crop loans when the lenders cannot be sure that there is some protection against wide price swings and natural disaster.

But how can the likes of LaMalfa and other Republicans argue against economic stimulus when they get so much themselves?

The story I referred to can be seen via this link:

The U.S. domestic rice-growing industry, at least in Northern California, also depends upon federally-subsidized water; it is a water intensive crop. Some argue that other crops could be grown and the water put to better use. There are other regions on the planet more suited to growing rice with natural conditions.

If you want government out of your business Republicans, or anyone else, you cannot at the same time have your hand out for it largesse (that’s just the way it works).


Today I haul a lot of agricultural products, so indirectly I likely benefit from federal farm programs, that include direct payments, as well as insurance, and various services. There no doubt is a major benefit to government involvement in agriculture, to include stability in the food supply and economic system. But I think rich farmers and corporate farmers utilize the image of poor farmers, of which there were many in the past, and still are, to get support for farm subsidy payments. It seems that the majority of help from the federal government goes to those who need it the least. One of my late uncles was a small farmer, 60 acres, and he used to complain that the farm advisors with the state University system were far more eager to work with the big farmers than him.