Over at BenSwann.com there is a good post reminding us that more money goes to corporate welfare than social welfare programs. How much more goes to corporate welfare than social welfare? BenSwann.com points to a report at ThinkByNumbers.com for the answer:
I’m no fan of any government welfare programs, whether they be corporate or social. I do however think it makes many fiscal conservatives look hypocritical when they attack social welfare programs and ignore the billions of dollars used in wealth-redistribution done for special interest groups in rich industries.
The energy industry (oil, coal, wind, solar, etc..) is often a target for those of us opposed to corporate welfare. And right fully so, they account for a large portion of corporate welfare. Yet that industry is not the biggest corporate welfare recipient. It is actually the agricultural industry. This from the ThinkByNumbers report:
However, the largest fraction of corporate welfare spending, about 40%, went through the Department of Agriculture, most of it in the form of farm subsidies. (Edwards, Corporate Welfare, 2003) Well, that sounds OK. Someone’s got to help struggling family farms stay afloat, right? But in reality, farm subsidies actually tilt the cotton field in favor of the largest industrial farming operations. When it comes to deciding how to dole out the money, the agricultural subsidy system utilizes a process that is essentially the opposite of that used in the social welfare system’s welfare system. In the corporate welfare system, the more money and assets you have, the more government assistance you get. Conversely, social welfare programs are set up so that the more money and assets you have, the less government assistance you get. The result is that the absolute largest 7% of corporate farming operations receive 45% of all subsidies. (Edwards, Downsizing the Federal Government, 2004) So instead of protecting family farms, these subsidies actually enhance the ability of large industrial operations to shut them out of the market.
As the Farm Bill takes center stage again it is time to look at truly getting rid of corporate welfare subsidies for the agricultural industry. Now I don’t think it would be a good idea to cut the subsidies cold turkey. The unintended consequences of that would cause undue short-term hardship on the economy. As a nation we are already experience enough government-produced hardship upon the economy. Instead we need to get back to a five-year plan that will remove farm subsidies. Doing so would allow the agricultural industry to plan accordingly. It would also remove the largest corporate wealth-redistribution scheme and allow food prices to closer reflect free-market prices.
Personally I don’t believe the current majority of DC politicians will be willing to take on the lobbying power of the agricultural industry. But if the fiscal conservatives in DC want to be taken seriously they have to look at all forms of welfare. Supporting corporate welfare over social welfare is not just hypocritical, it makes them appear to be ‘bought and paid for’ by special interest groups.