Category Archives: Crony Capitalism

The Kronies are here to protect a huge corporate welfare program

Yesterday the first episode of “The Kronies” was released. The Kronies is new short cartoon series that somewhat parodies old Saturday morning cartoons (do they exist anymore?) Back in January the project was launched with a website and some introductory videos for the cast (shown below). I’ve been meaning to do a post about the pending reauthorization of the Export-Import bank, but thanks this great webisode of The Kronies I can put that off for a little while.

Here is the episode in question. It is only one and a half minutes long.

The Harry Reid line was classic! I also love the fact that The Kronies videos take on both sides of Crony Capitalism: the politicians and the big corporations.

When it looks like a vote is pending on this issue I will likely do an actual post showing why it is time for the Export-Import bank to go away. But sadly there is likely to be little true resistance to renewing this corporate welfare institution… It is also worth noting that signing the bill renewing the bank two years ago is one of the many campaign promises Obama has broken over the years.

For anyone interested here are the introductory videos of the The Kronies released earlier this year:

Kronies TV Commercial: Get the Kronies Action Figures!

Meet Bankor the Profit!

Meet Kaptain Korn!

Meet Big-G!

Meet Parts & Labor!

Meet Ariel Stryker!

It is time to get serious about reducing corporate welfare, including farm subsidies

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:

About $59 billion is spent on traditional social welfare programs. $92 billion is spent on corporate subsidies. So, the government spent 50% more on corporate welfare than it did on food stamps and housing assistance in 2006.

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.

Farm-Subsidies2
Graph Source: http://ers.usda.gov/data

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.

Will defense spending ever be fixed in DC

tanque_xilographic_styleDefense spending is always a hot topic in DC. From my point of view there are two different political approaches to the political side of defense spending in DC:

  • There are those that want to increase defense spending.
  • There are those that pretend they want to decrease defense spending.

Very few politicians in DC actually want to reduce defense spending. True reductions in defense spending would mean going against special interest groups that support DC politicians.

As some one who believes in a good defense capability I don’t want our military reduced to a point where it is unable to defend our country. At the same time I believe our military should be efficient in both capabilities and cost. Just last week I listened to top military officials tell Congress there is nothing left to cut without reducing capabilities of our military. Should we believe that? Or were these top military officials telling Congress what they wanted to hear so politicians could keep the status quo for defense spending. Or are these top defense officials saying they cannot make cuts simply because they don’t know where the money is going?

Often when having this debate I will mention military projects that Congress forces upon the Pentagon in order to please special interests. Some examples include

Items like these are “low-hanging fruit” for budget cuts. These cuts could be made immediately without undermining our defense capabilities. When researching defense cuts it is hard to find areas beyond this low-hanging fruit to highlight. An investigation being done by Reuters could explain why:

In its investigation, Reuters has found that the Pentagon is largely incapable of keeping track of its vast stores of weapons, ammunition and other supplies; thus it continues to spend money on new supplies it doesn’t need and on storing others long out of date. It has amassed a backlog of more than half a trillion dollars in unaudited contracts with outside vendors; how much of that money paid for actual goods and services delivered isn’t known. And it repeatedly falls prey to fraud and theft that can go undiscovered for years, often eventually detected by external law enforcement agencies.

The consequences aren’t only financial; bad bookkeeping can affect the nation’s defense. In one example of many, the Army lost track of $5.8 billion of supplies between 2003 and 2011 as it shuffled equipment between reserve and regular units. Affected units “may experience equipment shortages that could hinder their ability to train soldiers and respond to emergencies,” the Pentagon inspector general said in a September 2012 report.

Because of its persistent inability to tally its accounts, the Pentagon is the only federal agency that has not complied with a law that requires annual audits of all government departments. That means that the $8.5 trillion in taxpayer money doled out by Congress to the Pentagon since 1996, the first year it was supposed to be audited, has never been accounted for. That sum exceeds the value of China’s economic output last year.

It is kind of hard to determine where to make cuts when there is no good data to work from. It is believable that top defense officials cannot make more cuts simply because they don’t know where the money is going. Perhaps now is the time to look at prioritizing its ‘accounting readiness’. The Pentagon should make it a top priority to update and streamline accounting policies and technology used by the military. Then perhaps we could get real data to find out where defense cuts can be made. Better yet streamlining the defense accounting may actually save millions (or billions) of dollars that are currently being misappropriated or otherwise ‘lost’.

Now the bigger question is if the military-industrial complex would allow such a move to happen? Can we trust DC politicians to reduce spending on defense, even if that would make for a more efficient military? Personally I don’t believe the military-industrial complex and the DC politicians enabling the current defense spending system will allow that to happen.

Will Governor Daugaard mention the beef plant corporate welfare when Aberdeen is ‘Capital for a Day’?

Angus Cow, Curious by Kim Newberg
Angus Cow, Curious by Kim Newberg

Next week it is Aberdeen’s turn to be “Capital for a Day”. Here is a portion of the news release posted on the South Dakota website:

Activities for the day include a main street walk, tours around town, meetings and a fair walk. Citizens are encouraged to attend the community roundtable meeting to discuss workforce, recruitment and training. This will be held at the Brown County Fairgrounds Clubhouse from 1 – 2 p.m. CDT.

The day concludes with a fair walk at 2:00 p.m., where constituents can talk with Gov. Dennis Daugaard.

The beef plant laying off its workforce last month is a large and recent enough issue to bring up at this community roundtable. As the release says this community roundtable will be used to “discuss workforce, recruitment and training”. This may be a good chance for Aberdeen as a community to bring forth answers (although if I goes like most townhall meetings I’ve been to it won’t really accomplish anything).

But after the townhall meeting Governor Daugaard will be going for a walk and talking with constituents. This would be the perfect time to find out if the Governor understands the dangers of large operations such as the beef plant being completely supported by taxpayer and greencard dollars.

However, I do not expect that to happen. As a true backer of corporate welfare I expect Governor Daugaard will find non-government issues to blame the failed beef plant on. He will also fail to share the blame with bad business decisions made at the plant (why make good business decisions when its the taxpayer dollars your playing with). Instead I expect the Governor to channel the favored progressive economist Paul Krugman. A couple of weeks ago Krugman had this to say about Detroit:

…for the most part the city was just an innocent victim of market forces.

I am betting if Daugaard will answer questions about the beef plant failing (after being built and supported with corporate welfare) the answer will involved the “free market” and make it sound as if nobody could have foreseen this tragedy. Sadly that may sound like the “truth” to someone who loves to use taxpayer dollars for subsidizing favored special interests. However, those of us that care about fiscal responsibility can see this situation, just as with Detroit, has nothing to do with “market forces”. In this case an inept management team being supported by government bureaucrats (backed by elected officials coming with gifts of taxpayer dollars) were the only real “forces” that are to blame..

If Daugaard does not start to become the conservative Republican he pretends to be (although honestly he doesn’t try too hard) maybe it is further proof South Dakota needs a libertarian Governor. I could be wrong. He might have good answers. But I think it more likely he will find ways to avoid touching any real corporate welfare topics. Maybe I’ll have to leave my fair booth for a while next Friday afternoon.

PS. He could try blame this on Rounds because that is who was governor when this beef plant fiasco started. But that doesn’t excuse Daugaard’s continued support of Rounds actions at the beef plant. It is also unlikely he will attack Rounds going into the election season.

The State of South Dakota must help correct the situation it created at Northern Beef Packers

Angus Cow, Curious by Kim Newberg
Angus Cow, Curious by Kim Newberg

That might sound like a funny headline from a libertarian blogger. But yes, I think we have a case where the government must step in to help. For anyone that missed the news the Northern Beef Packers in Aberdeen laid off 260 workers on Wednesday. This was after missing payroll the Friday before. At that time I made the case that government-created situations such as this mean we need a more libertarian governor. Now I am going to make the case that the State should assist these 260 workers.

The Northern Beef Packers (NBP) plant was created in part through the EB-5 program; which allows green cards for “jobs created”. Former Governor Rounds proudly intervened in the market to create the current NBP situation.  Add to this the plethora of taxpayer dollars used (either directly or indirectly through tax breaks) and the NBP plant is a text-book case of cronyism and corporate welfare at its worst. The cronyism that was started by Governor Rounds, and currently being continued by Governor Daugaard, in Aberdeen shows the true victims of government intervention into the market: the average working American citizen.

Now that 260 workers have been laid off it is time for the State to at least put a band-aid on the situation it created. The hard-working people who worked at NBP are understandably angry and seeking answers. In a dirty trick move NBP filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy before the South Dakota Labor Department could ensure the workers got their three weeks of pay that was never received. There is no excuse for NBP to behave in such a way; especially since most of their operations have been taxpayer-funded! The workers at Northern Beef Plant are not simply numbers for politicians to play with so they can sell green cards. These workers are hard-working people who expect honest pay for honest work. When cronyism enters the picture all honesty between the company and its employees are false.

That is why at this time I believe it is best for the State to provide emergency support for these families. This would not be a case of welfare or government intervention, it is a case of the State stepping in to help band-aid a situation it created. Apparently the State of South Dakota has a surplus of $24.2 million when the fiscal year ended last month. Part of that money could be used as short-term relief for these families until NBP is forced to pay its workers. If that means creating a special session of the legislature I would say that is OK. Right now what is important is to help these families, and determine later how to prevent such situation in the future.

On that note I would like to give a hat-tip to many Aberdeen residents that have been helping these displaced workers. Although I have been traveling the last few days, I have kept in touch with people back in Aberdeen. I have heard of church groups and non-profit organizations stepping up to assist the affected families. That is great to hear. I would urge anyone in the Aberdeen area reach out to their local charitable organizations to see if there is a way they can help. No matter how anyone feels about the political side of this story the human side of this story is still the most important aspect.

As I close this post I would like to urge Governor Daugaard and our State Legislators to see if there is a way they can help these hard-working South Dakota residents. This is not a case of welfare. Rather it is a case where the State should step in to assist people getting their lives back after being the victim of taxpayer sponsored cronyism.

R.I.P. Keynesian Economics. Now can we get back to real economic progress?

1343667790Over at the Independent Institute there is a good article from Burt Abrams providing one more rather large piece of evidence that Keynesian Economics simply doesn’t work. Mr. Abrams looks at how the $787 billion stimulus passed in the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) simply did nothing to improve the economy. US citizens should be downright livid about the gambled loss of three-quarters of a trillion taxpayer dollars.

But, instead of getting made I will instead re-post the obituary nicely written by Mr. Abrams. Here is the obituary in its entirety:

Obituary: Keynesian Economics, R.I.P.

Keynesian Economics, aged 77, died peacefully today after a prolonged illness and complications associated with the Great Recession. Born in the 1930′s of British parentage, it rose to preeminence as the dominant macroeconomic theory. It is survived by well-intentioned, but misguided, older economists and politicians who have difficulty facing statistical evidence and commonsense. It leaves a legacy of massive public indebtedness, unsustainable entitlement programs, and slowly growing and sometimes bankrupt economies.

In the 1960′s, its short-run orientation was embraced warmly by U.S. politicians of all persuasions. Its disregard for anything other than the short run was succinctly summed up by its motto, “In the long run, we’re all dead.” In it last years, it provided the justification for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 that undertook bizarre public policies that failed basic benefit-cost assessments: “Cash for Clunkers” that destroyed perfectly usable automobiles, construction of airports in the middle of nowhere (but close to congressmen’s home towns), installation of high-speed rail systems that traversed sparsely settled parts of the country, often without passengers, 5 mph faster than the trains they replaced, and subsidies to wasteful companies that eventually went bankrupt. The Act did not return the economy to full employment as promised but did boost the country’s national debt and helped to lower its credit rating.

Keynesian deficit stimulus spending made the United States, once the greatest and wealthiest country in the world, dependent on foreign lenders. The taxes needed to fund its bloated government spending and service its national debt discouraged the private sector and crowded-out private entrepreneurship. Its national debt will burden future generations and slow economic growth for years to come.

After 77 years, the long run had arrived for Keynesian Economics. Internment is in Potter’s Field.

Watch out liberty movement. Progressivism 2.0 is here, rebranded as No Labels

Label_001No Labels has been around for a couple of years now. Like many in the liberty movement I’ve basically ignored them. Reason and others have covered them, but I never really paid attention. What did I care about a “bi-partisan” movement. I should have been paying more attention. I’m watching CSPAN as Reps from the House speak out about No Labels and how great it is. As I watch them I am getting their message loud and clear: “we are coming together in a non-partisan manner to rebuild this country in our progressive image”.

To see if this impression was correct I did some research on the No Labels website. Here is a very relevant excerpt from the “Who We Are” section:

No Labels promotes its politics of problem solving in three ways: by organizing citizens across America, providing a space for legislators who want to solve problems to convene and by pushing for common-sense reforms to make our government work.

You will notice that the author of this document emphasized three phrases within the paragraph. Let’s look at these three statements, in reverse order.

pushing for common-sense reforms

This is the main phrase to be afraid of. It is phrases like this that have driven the progressive movement for over a century. Make no mistake about this phrase: reform means social engineering. The purpose of the progressive movement has been to engineer society in their Utopian image without regard to constitutional restrictions, state rights, or individual rights. As I continue to watch Representatives on CSPAN talk about No Labels there is an obvious progressive nature present.

providing a space for legislators who want to solve problems

Hmm, providing a space for legislatures to solve problems. This sounds very familiar. Oh, I know: it’s another group like ALEC, NCSL, or CSG (I’ve previously blogged my opposition of taxpayer dollars to these groups before). No Labels is going to become another place politicians can get pre-made bills to pass in order advance the progressive No Labels movement. It is ironic. At the very same time progressives are attacking ALEC they are putting forth a new group that will do many of the same things of their most hated organization.

organizing citizens across America

This section makes sense for any political organization: they will want to educate voters about their cause. While it makes sense, I believe the liberty movement must watch out! This No Labels group calls itself “non-partisan”. Many believe non-partisan is the same as “without an agenda”. It is quite clear No Labels has an agenda. They will be “educating” voters about their agenda as if it is “the truth”. This is no different from how many political movements act. However it is being done in a dis-honest way: the No Labels movement makes itself appear to be non-political in nature. Hopefully people will see through their deceit.

As time goes on independent thinkers and liberty-minded individuals must keep an eye on this group calling themselves “No Labels”. For those of that can see the damage progressiveness has already done to constitutional, state, and individual rights this does not bode well. But I still have faith real common sense will win over the deceitful “common-sense” proposed by No Labels.

Anyone want some light reading? Stay away from the farm bill!

trattore_architetto_fran_01Yesterday South Dakota Representative Noem announced the farm bill has passed the House Agriculture Committee. The official name for the farm bill this year is the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 (HR6083) (PDF). Noem has been pushing for a long-term farm bill to be passed, perhaps she will get her wish this year. Personally I think she should be trying to wean farmers off government welfare; however that is a post for a different day.

As I read through this bill I can’t help but wonder how many legislatures that will vote on it will actually read through each section of the bill. In its current state (which will likely have more amendments) it is 576 pages long. The Table of Contents alone is 11 pages long. When reading the bill you must continuously look at current codified laws that are referenced. To show the pure vastness of this bill I am reproducing the Table of Contents below. This is exactly the kind of garbage bills that should be rejected in DC; sadly it is the standard.

113TH CONGRESS
1ST SESSION H. R. ll
To provide for the reform and continuation of agricultural and other programs
of the Department of Agriculture through fiscal year 2018, and for
other purposes.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Mr. LUCAS (for himself and Mr. PETERSON) introduced the following bill;
which was referred to the Committee on lllllllllllllll
A BILL
To provide for the reform and continuation of agricultural
and other programs of the Department of Agriculture
through fiscal year 2018, and for other purposes.
1 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representa2
tives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
3 SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; TABLE OF CONTENTS.
4 (a) SHORT TITLE.—This Act may be cited as the
5 ‘‘Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act
6 of 2013’’.
7 (b) TABLE OF CONTENTS.—The table of contents of
8 this Act is as follows:

Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.
Sec. 2. Definition of Secretary of Agriculture.
TITLE I—COMMODITIES
Subtitle A—Repeals and Reforms
Sec. 1101. Repeal of direct payments.
Sec. 1102. Repeal of counter-cyclical payments.
Sec. 1103. Repeal of average crop revenue election program.
Sec. 1104. Definitions.
Sec. 1105. Base acres.
Sec. 1106. Payment yields.
Sec. 1107. Farm risk management election.
Sec. 1108. Producer agreements.
Sec. 1109. Period of effectiveness.
Subtitle B—Marketing Loans
Sec. 1201. Availability of nonrecourse marketing assistance loans for loan commodities.
Sec. 1202. Loan rates for nonrecourse marketing assistance loans.
Sec. 1203. Term of loans.
Sec. 1204. Repayment of loans.
Sec. 1205. Loan deficiency payments.
Sec. 1206. Payments in lieu of loan deficiency payments for grazed acreage.
Sec. 1207. Special marketing loan provisions for upland cotton.
Sec. 1208. Special competitive provisions for extra long staple cotton.
Sec. 1209. Availability of recourse loans for high moisture feed grains and seed
cotton.
Sec. 1210. Adjustments of loans.
Subtitle C—Sugar
Sec. 1301. Sugar program.
Subtitle D—Dairy
PART I—DAIRY PRODUCER MARGIN PROTECTION AND DAIRY MARKET
STABILIZATION PROGRAMS
Sec. 1401. Definitions.
Sec. 1402. Calculation of average feed cost and actual dairy producer margins.
SUBPART A—DAIRY PRODUCER MARGIN PROTECTION PROGRAM
Sec. 1411. Establishment of dairy producer margin protection program.
Sec. 1412. Participation of dairy producers in margin protection program.
Sec. 1413. Production history of participating dairy producers.
Sec. 1414. Basic margin protection.
Sec. 1415. Supplemental margin protection.
Sec. 1416. Effect of failure to pay administrative fees or premiums.
SUBPART B—DAIRY MARKET STABILIZATION PROGRAM
Sec. 1431. Establishment of dairy market stabilization program.
Sec. 1432. Threshold for implementation and reduction in dairy producer payments.
Sec. 1433. Producer milk marketing information.
Sec. 1434. Calculation and collection of reduced dairy producer payments.
Sec. 1435. Remitting monies to the Secretary and use of monies.
Sec. 1436. Suspension of reduced payment requirement.
Sec. 1437. Enforcement.
Sec. 1438. Audit requirements.
SUBPART C—COMMODITY CREDIT CORPORATION
Sec. 1451. Use of Commodity Credit Corporation.
SUBPART D—INITIATION AND DURATION
Sec. 1461. Rulemaking.
Sec. 1462. Duration.
PART II—REPEAL OR REAUTHORIZATION OF OTHER DAIRY-RELATED
PROVISIONS
Sec. 1481. Repeal of dairy product price support and milk income loss contract
programs.
Sec. 1482. Repeal of dairy export incentive program.
Sec. 1483. Extension of dairy forward pricing program.
Sec. 1484. Extension of dairy indemnity program.
Sec. 1485. Extension of dairy promotion and research program.
Sec. 1486. Repeal of Federal Milk Marketing Order Review Commission.
PART III—EFFECTIVE DATE
Sec. 1491. Effective date.
Subtitle E—Supplemental Agricultural Disaster Assistance Programs
Sec. 1501. Supplemental agricultural disaster assistance.
Subtitle F—Administration
Sec. 1601. Administration generally.
Sec. 1602. Suspension of permanent price support authority.
Sec. 1603. Payment limitations.
Sec. 1604. Adjusted gross income limitation.
Sec. 1605. Geographically disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.
Sec. 1606. Personal liability of producers for deficiencies.
Sec. 1607. Prevention of deceased individuals receiving payments under farm
commodity programs.
Sec. 1608. Technical corrections.
Sec. 1609. Assignment of payments.
Sec. 1610. Tracking of benefits.
Sec. 1611. Signature authority.
Sec. 1612. Implementation.
TITLE II—CONSERVATION
Subtitle A—Conservation Reserve Program
Sec. 2001. Extension and enrollment requirements of conservation reserve program.
Sec. 2002. Farmable wetland program.
Sec. 2003. Duties of owners and operators.
Sec. 2004. Duties of the Secretary.
Sec. 2005. Payments.
Sec. 2006. Contract requirements.
Sec. 2007. Conversion of land subject to contract to other conserving uses.
Sec. 2008. Effective date.
Subtitle B—Conservation Stewardship Program
Sec. 2101. Conservation stewardship program.
Subtitle C—Environmental Quality Incentives Program
Sec. 2201. Purposes.
Sec. 2202. Establishment and administration.
Sec. 2203. Evaluation of applications.
Sec. 2204. Duties of producers.
Sec. 2205. Limitation on payments.
Sec. 2206. Conservation innovation grants and payments.
Sec. 2207. Effective date.
Subtitle D—Agricultural Conservation Easement Program
Sec. 2301. Agricultural conservation easement program.
Subtitle E—Regional Conservation Partnership Program
Sec. 2401. Regional conservation partnership program.
Subtitle F—Other Conservation Programs
Sec. 2501. Conservation of private grazing land.
Sec. 2502. Grassroots source water protection program.
Sec. 2503. Voluntary public access and habitat incentive program.
Sec. 2504. Agriculture conservation experienced services program.
Sec. 2505. Small watershed rehabilitation program.
Sec. 2506. Agricultural management assistance program.
Subtitle G—Funding and Administration
Sec. 2601. Funding.
Sec. 2602. Technical assistance.
Sec. 2603. Reservation of funds to provide assistance to certain farmers or
ranchers for conservation access.
Sec. 2604. Annual report on program enrollments and assistance.
Sec. 2605. Review of conservation practice standards.
Sec. 2606. Administrative requirements applicable to all conservation programs.
Sec. 2607. Standards for State technical committees.
Sec. 2608. Rulemaking authority.
Subtitle H—Repeal of Superseded Program Authorities and Transitional
Provisions; Technical Amendments
Sec. 2701. Comprehensive conservation enhancement program.
Sec. 2702. Emergency forestry conservation reserve program.
Sec. 2703. Wetlands reserve program.
Sec. 2704. Farmland protection program and farm viability program.
Sec. 2705. Grassland reserve program.
Sec. 2706. Agricultural water enhancement program.
Sec. 2707. Wildlife habitat incentive program.
Sec. 2708. Great Lakes basin program.
Sec. 2709. Chesapeake Bay watershed program.
Sec. 2710. Cooperative conservation partnership initiative.
Sec. 2711. Environmental easement program.
Sec. 2712. Technical amendments.
TITLE III—TRADE
Subtitle A—Food for Peace Act
Sec. 3001. General authority.
Sec. 3002. Support for organizations through which assistance is provided.
Sec. 3003. Food aid quality.
Sec. 3004. Minimum levels of assistance.
Sec. 3005. Food Aid Consultative Group.
Sec. 3006. Oversight, monitoring, and evaluation.
Sec. 3007. Assistance for stockpiling and rapid transportation, delivery, and
distribution of shelf-stable prepackaged foods.
Sec. 3008. General provisions.
Sec. 3009. Prepositioning of agricultural commodities.
Sec. 3010. Annual report regarding food aid programs and activities.
Sec. 3011. Deadline for agreements to finance sales or to provide other assistance.
Sec. 3012. Authorization of appropriations.
Sec. 3013. Micronutrient fortification programs.
Sec. 3014. John Ogonowski and Doug Bereuter Farmer-to-Farmer Program.
Subtitle B—Agricultural Trade Act of 1978
Sec. 3101. Funding for export credit guarantee program.
Sec. 3102. Funding for market access program.
Sec. 3103. Foreign market development cooperator program.
Subtitle C—Other Agricultural Trade Laws
Sec. 3201. Food for Progress Act of 1985.
Sec. 3202. Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust.
Sec. 3203. Promotion of agricultural exports to emerging markets.
Sec. 3204. McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition
Program.
Sec. 3205. Technical assistance for specialty crops.
Sec. 3206. Global Crop Diversity Trust.
Sec. 3207. Under Secretary of Agriculture for Foreign Agricultural Services.
TITLE IV—NUTRITION
Subtitle A—Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
Sec. 4001. Preventing payment of cash to recipients of supplemental nutrition
assistance for the return of empty bottles and cans used to
contain food purchased with benefits provided under the program.
Sec. 4002. Retailers.
Sec. 4003. Enhancing services to elderly and disabled supplemental nutrition
assistance program recipients.
Sec. 4004. Food distribution program on Indian reservations.
Sec. 4005. Updating program eligibility.
Sec. 4006. Exclusion of medical marijuana from excess medical expense deduction.
Sec. 4007. Standard utility allowances based on the receipt of energy assistance
payments.
Sec. 4008. Eligibility disqualifications.
Sec. 4009. Ending supplemental nutrition assistance program benefits for lottery
or gambling winners.
Sec. 4010. Improving security of food assistance.
Sec. 4011. Demonstration projects on acceptance of benefits of mobile transactions.
Sec. 4012. Use of benefits for purchase of community-supported agriculture
share.
Sec. 4013. Restaurant meals program.
Sec. 4014. Mandating State immigration verification.
Sec. 4015. Data exchange standardization for improved interoperability.
Sec. 4016. Prohibiting government-sponsored recruitment activities.
Sec. 4017. Repeal of bonus program.
Sec. 4018. Funding of employment and training programs.
Sec. 4019. Monitoring employment and training program.
Sec. 4020. Cooperation with program research and evaluation.
Sec. 4021. Pilot projects to reduce dependency and increase work effort in the
supplemental nutrition assistance program.
Sec. 4022. Authorization of appropriations.
Sec. 4023. Limitation on use of block grant to Puerto Rico.
Sec. 4024. Assistance for community food projects.
Sec. 4025. Emergency food assistance.
Sec. 4026. Nutrition education.
Sec. 4027. Retailer trafficking.
Sec. 4028. Technical and conforming amendments.
Sec. 4029. Tolerance level for excluding small errors.
Sec. 4030. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands pilot program.
Sec. 4031. Annual State report on verification of SNAP participation.
Subtitle B—Commodity Distribution Programs
Sec. 4101. Commodity distribution program.
Sec. 4102. Commodity supplemental food program.
Sec. 4103. Distribution of surplus commodities to special nutrition projects.
Sec. 4104. Processing of commodities.
Subtitle C—Miscellaneous
Sec. 4201. Farmers’ market nutrition program.
Sec. 4202. Nutrition information and awareness pilot program.
Sec. 4203. Fresh fruit and vegetable program.
Sec. 4204. Additional authority for purchase of fresh fruits, vegetables, and
other specialty food crops.
Sec. 4205. Encouraging locally and regionally grown and raised food.
TITLE V—CREDIT
Subtitle A—Farm Ownership Loans
Sec. 5001. Eligibility for farm ownership loans.
Sec. 5002. Conservation loan and loan guarantee program.
Sec. 5003. Down payment loan program.
Sec. 5004. Elimination of mineral rights appraisal requirement.
Subtitle B—Operating Loans
Sec. 5101. Eligibility for farm operating loans.
Sec. 5102. Elimination of rural residency requirement for operating loans to
youth.
Sec. 5103. Authority to waive personal liability for youth loans due to circumstances
beyond borrower control.
Sec. 5104. Microloans.
Subtitle C—Emergency Loans
Sec. 5201. Eligibility for emergency loans.
Subtitle D—Administrative Provisions
Sec. 5301. Beginning farmer and rancher individual development accounts pilot
program.
Sec. 5302. Eligible beginning farmers and ranchers.
Sec. 5303. Loan authorization levels.
Sec. 5304. Priority for participation loans.
Sec. 5305. Loan fund set-asides.
Sec. 5306. Conforming amendment to borrower training provision, relating to
eligibility changes.
Subtitle E—State Agricultural Mediation Programs
Sec. 5401. State agricultural mediation programs.
Subtitle F—Loans to Purchasers of Highly Fractionated Land
Sec. 5501. Loans to purchasers of highly fractionated land.
TITLE VI—RURAL DEVELOPMENT
Subtitle A—Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act
Sec. 6001. Water, waste disposal, and wastewater facility grants.
Sec. 6002. Rural business opportunity grants.
Sec. 6003. Elimination of reservation of community facilities grant program
funds.
Sec. 6004. Utilization of loan guarantees for community facilities.
Sec. 6005. Rural water and wastewater circuit rider program.
Sec. 6006. Tribal college and university essential community facilities.
Sec. 6007. Emergency and imminent community water assistance grant program.
Sec. 6008. Household water well systems.
Sec. 6009. Rural business and industry loan program.
Sec. 6010. Rural cooperative development grants.
Sec. 6011. Locally or regionally produced agricultural food products.
Sec. 6012. Intermediary relending program.
Sec. 6013. Rural water and waste disposal infrastructure.
Sec. 6014. Simplified applications.
Sec. 6015. Grants for NOAA weather radio transmitters.
Sec. 6016. Rural microentrepreneur assistance program.
Sec. 6017. Delta Regional Authority.
Sec. 6018. Northern Great Plains Regional Authority.
Sec. 6019. Rural business investment program.
Subtitle B—Rural Electrification Act of 1936
Sec. 6101. Relending for certain purposes.
Sec. 6102. Fees for certain loan guarantees.
Sec. 6103. Guarantees for bonds and notes issued for electrification or telephone
purposes.
Sec. 6104. Expansion of 911 access.
Sec. 6105. Access to broadband telecommunications services in rural areas.
Subtitle C—Miscellaneous
Sec. 6201. Distance learning and telemedicine.
Sec. 6202. Value-added agricultural market development program grants.
Sec. 6203. Agriculture innovation center demonstration program.
Sec. 6204. Program metrics.
Sec. 6205. Study of rural transportation issues.
Sec. 6206. Certain Federal actions not to be considered major.
TITLE VII—RESEARCH, EXTENSION, AND RELATED MATTERS
Subtitle A—National Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy
Act of 1977
Sec. 7101. Option to be included as non-land-grant college of agriculture.
Sec. 7102. National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics
Advisory Board.
Sec. 7103. Specialty crop committee.
Sec. 7104. Veterinary services grant program.
Sec. 7105. Grants and fellowships for food and agriculture sciences education.
Sec. 7106. Policy research centers.
Sec. 7107. Repeal of human nutrition intervention and health promotion research
program.
Sec. 7108. Repeal of pilot research program to combine medical and agricultural
research.
Sec. 7109. Nutrition education program.
Sec. 7110. Continuing animal health and disease research programs.
Sec. 7111. Repeal of appropriations for research on national or regional problems.
Sec. 7112. Grants to upgrade agricultural and food sciences facilities at 1890
land-grant colleges, including Tuskegee University.
Sec. 7113. Grants to upgrade agriculture and food science facilities and equipment
at insular area land-grant institutions.
Sec. 7114. Repeal of national research and training virtual centers.
Sec. 7115. Hispanic-serving institutions.
Sec. 7116. Competitive Grants Program for Hispanic Agricultural Workers and
Youth.
Sec. 7117. Competitive grants for international agricultural science and education
programs.
Sec. 7118. Repeal of research equipment grants.
Sec. 7119. University research.
Sec. 7120. Extension service.
Sec. 7121. Auditing, reporting, bookkeeping, and administrative requirements.
Sec. 7122. Supplemental and alternative crops.
Sec. 7123. Capacity building grants for NLGCA institutions.
Sec. 7124. Aquaculture assistance programs.
Sec. 7125. Rangeland research programs.
Sec. 7126. Special authorization for biosecurity planning and response.
Sec. 7127. Distance education and resident instruction grants program for insular
area institutions of higher education.
Sec. 7128. Matching funds requirement.
Subtitle B—Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990
Sec. 7201. Best utilization of biological applications.
Sec. 7202. Integrated management systems.
Sec. 7203. Sustainable agriculture technology development and transfer program.
Sec. 7204. National training program.
Sec. 7205. National Genetics Resources Program.
Sec. 7206. Repeal of National Agricultural Weather Information System.
Sec. 7207. Repeal of rural electronic commerce extension program.
Sec. 7208. Repeal of agricultural genome initiative.
Sec. 7209. High-priority research and extension initiatives.
Sec. 7210. Repeal of nutrient management research and extension initiative.
Sec. 7211. Organic agriculture research and extension initiative.
Sec. 7212. Repeal of agricultural bioenergy feedstock and energy efficiency research
and extension initiative.
Sec. 7213. Farm business management.
Sec. 7214. Centers of excellence.
Sec. 7215. Repeal of red meat safety research center.
Sec. 7216. Assistive technology program for farmers with disabilities.
Sec. 7217. National rural information center clearinghouse.
Subtitle C—Agricultural Research, Extension, and Education Reform Act of
1998
Sec. 7301. Relevance and merit of agricultural research, extension, and education
funded by the Department.
Sec. 7302. Integrated research, education, and extension competitive grants
program.
Sec. 7303. Repeal of coordinated program of research, extension, and education
to improve viability of small and medium size dairy, livestock,
and poultry operations.
Sec. 7304. Fusarium Graminearum grants.
Sec. 7305. Repeal of Bovine Johne’s disease control program.
Sec. 7306. Grants for youth organizations.
Sec. 7307. Specialty crop research initiative.
Sec. 7308. Food animal residue avoidance database program.
Sec. 7309. Repeal of national swine research center.
Sec. 7310. Office of pest management policy.
Sec. 7311. Repeal of studies of agricultural research, extension, and education.
Subtitle D—Other Laws
Sec. 7401. Critical Agricultural Materials Act.
Sec. 7402. Equity in Educational Land-grant Status Act of 1994.
Sec. 7403. Research Facilities Act.
Sec. 7404. Repeal of carbon cycle research.
Sec. 7405. Competitive, Special, and Facilities Research Grant Act.
Sec. 7406. Renewable Resources Extension Act of 1978.
Sec. 7407. National Aquaculture Act of 1980.
Sec. 7408. Repeal of use of remote sensing data.
Sec. 7409. Repeal of reports under Farm Security and Rural Investment Act
of 2002.
Sec. 7410. Beginning farmer and rancher development program.
Sec. 7411. Inclusion of Northern Mariana Islands as a State under McIntire-
Stennis Cooperative Forestry Act.
Subtitle E—Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008
PART 1—AGRICULTURAL SECURITY
Sec. 7501. Agricultural biosecurity communication center.
Sec. 7502. Assistance to build local capacity in agricultural biosecurity planning,
preparation, and response.
Sec. 7503. Research and development of agricultural countermeasures.
Sec. 7504. Agricultural biosecurity grant program.
PART 2—MISCELLANEOUS
Sec. 7511. Enhanced use lease authority pilot program.
Sec. 7512. Grazinglands research laboratory.
Sec. 7513. Budget submission and funding.
Sec. 7514. Repeal of research and education grants for the study of antibioticresistant
bacteria.
Sec. 7515. Repeal of farm and ranch stress assistance network.
Sec. 7516. Repeal of seed distribution.
Sec. 7517. Natural products research program.
Sec. 7518. Sun grant program.
Sec. 7519. Repeal of study and report on food deserts.
Sec. 7520. Repeal of agricultural and rural transportation research and education.
Subtitle F—Miscellaneous Provisions
Sec. 7601. Agreements with nonprofit organizations for National Arboretum.
Sec. 7602. Cotton Disease Research Report.
Sec. 7603. Acceptance of facility for Agricultural Research Service.
Sec. 7604. Miscellaneous technical corrections.
TITLE VIII—FORESTRY
Subtitle A—Repeal of Certain Forestry Programs
Sec. 8001. Forest land enhancement program.
Sec. 8002. Watershed forestry assistance program.
Sec. 8003. Expired cooperative national forest products marketing program.
Sec. 8004. Hispanic-serving institution agricultural land national resources
leadership program.
Sec. 8005. Tribal watershed forestry assistance program.
Sec. 8006. Separate Forest Service decisionmaking and appeals process.
Subtitle B—Reauthorization of Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978
Programs
Sec. 8101. State-wide assessment and strategies for forest resources.
Sec. 8102. Forest Legacy Program.
Sec. 8103. Community forest and open space conservation program.
Subtitle C—Reauthorization of Other Forestry-Related Laws
Sec. 8201. Rural revitalization technologies.
Sec. 8202. Office of International Forestry.
Sec. 8203. Change in funding source for healthy forests reserve program.
Sec. 8204. Stewardship end result contracting project authority.
Subtitle D—National Forest Critical Area Response
Sec. 8301. Definitions.
Sec. 8302. Designation of critical areas.
Sec. 8303. Application of expedited procedures and activities of the Healthy
Forests Restoration Act of 2003 to critical areas.
Sec. 8304. Good neighbor authority.
Subtitle E—Miscellaneous Provisions
Sec. 8401. Revision of strategic plan for forest inventory and analysis.
Sec. 8402. Forest Service participation in ACES Program.
TITLE IX—ENERGY
Sec. 9001. Definition of renewable energy system.
Sec. 9002. Biobased markets program.
Sec. 9003. Biorefinery Assistance.
Sec. 9004. Repowering assistance program.
Sec. 9005. Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels.
Sec. 9006. Biodiesel Fuel Education Program.
Sec. 9007. Rural Energy for America Program.
Sec. 9008. Biomass Research and Development.
Sec. 9009. Feedstock Flexibility Program for Bioenergy Producers.
Sec. 9010. Biomass Crop Assistance Program.
Sec. 9011. Community wood energy program.
Sec. 9012. Repeal of biofuels infrastructure study.
Sec. 9013. Repeal of renewable fertilizer study.
TITLE X—HORTICULTURE
Sec. 10001. Specialty crops market news allocation.
Sec. 10002. Repeal of grant program to improve movement of specialty crops.
Sec. 10003. Farmers market and local food promotion program.
Sec. 10004. Organic agriculture.
Sec. 10005. Investigations and enforcement of the Organic Foods Production
Act of 1990.
Sec. 10006. Food safety education initiatives.
Sec. 10007. Specialty crop block grants.
Sec. 10008. Report on honey.
Sec. 10009. Bulk shipments of apples to Canada.
Sec. 10010. Inclusion of olive oil in import controls under the Agricultural Adjustment
Act.
Sec. 10011. Consolidation of plant pest and disease management and disaster
prevention programs.
Sec. 10012. Modification, cancellation, or suspension on basis of a biological
opinion.
Sec. 10013. Use and discharges of authorized pesticides.
TITLE XI—CROP INSURANCE
Sec. 11001. Information sharing.
Sec. 11002. Publication of information on violations of prohibition on premium
adjustments.
Sec. 11003. Supplemental coverage option.
Sec. 11004. Premium amounts for catastrophic risk protection.
Sec. 11005. Repeal of performance-based discount.
Sec. 11006. Permanent enterprise unit subsidy.
Sec. 11007. Enterprise units for irrigated and nonirrigated crops.
Sec. 11008. Data collection.
Sec. 11009. Adjustment in actual production history to establish insurable
yields.
Sec. 11010. Submission and review of policies.
Sec. 11011. Equitable relief for specialty crop policies.
Sec. 11012. Budget limitations on renegotiation of the standard reinsurance
agreement.
Sec. 11013. Crop production on native sod.
Sec. 11014. Coverage levels by practice.
Sec. 11015. Beginning farmer and rancher provisions.
Sec. 11016. Stacked income protection plan for producers of upland cotton.
Sec. 11017. Peanut revenue crop insurance.
Sec. 11018. Authority to correct errors.
Sec. 11019. Implementation.
Sec. 11020. Research and development priorities.
Sec. 11021. Additional research and development contracting requirements.
Sec. 11022. Program compliance partnerships.
Sec. 11023. Pilot programs.
Sec. 11024. Technical amendments.
TITLE XII—MISCELLANEOUS
Subtitle A—Livestock
Sec. 12101. National Sheep Industry Improvement Center.
Sec. 12102. Trichinae certification program.
Sec. 12103. National Aquatic Animal Health Plan.
Sec. 12104. Country of origin labeling.
Sec. 12105. National animal health laboratory network.
Subtitle B—Socially Disadvantaged Producers and Limited Resource
Producers
Sec. 12201. Outreach and assistance for socially disadvantaged farmers and
ranchers and veteran farmers and ranchers.
Sec. 12202. Office of Advocacy and Outreach.
Subtitle C—Other Miscellaneous Provisions
Sec. 12301. Grants to improve supply, stability, safety, and training of agricultural
labor force.
Sec. 12302. Program benefit eligibility status for participants in high plains
water study.
Sec. 12303. Office of Tribal Relations.
Sec. 12304. Military Veterans Agricultural Liaison.
Sec. 12305. Prohibition on keeping GSA leased cars overnight.
Sec. 12306. Noninsured crop assistance program.
Sec. 12307. Ensuring high standards for agency use of scientific information.

Agreed, taxpayers should not pay dues for ALEC… or NCSL.. or CSG!

Pig_01_Face_Cartoon_PinkSouth Dakota has seen a surge of media and bloggers speaking out against taxpayer money being used for dues and travel expenses relating to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Papers such as the Aberdeen American News have been publishing editorials on the subject while blogs such as Madville Times have whole sections devoted to Alec.  While I may not agree with the reasoning of most opposed to ALEC, I do agree taxpayer money should not be spent on such groups. I would however add the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and the Council of State Governments (CSG) to the list of organizations that should not receive taxpayer monies. In this post I will look briefly at all three of these organizations and examine why they are little more than “bill mills”.

ALEC – American Legislative Exchange Council

Since ALEC seems to get most of the bad press I will start here. Here is how ALEC describes itself:

The American Legislative Exchange Council works to advance the fundamental principles of free-market enterprise, limited government, and federalism at the state level through a nonpartisan public-private partnership of America’s state legislators, members of the private sector and the general public.

I have been described as “hardcore libertarian” it is likely no surprise that I support most of what ALEC aims to do. Anything that advances us towards a free-market enterprise with limited-government is good! However ALEC being paid for using public tax-dollars is not good!

ALEC allows corporations to join the organization with contributions. The bills created during ALEC sessions are done with the intent of pushing the agenda of these corporate donors. It is actually the same basic process as any other bill in politics, the only difference is the ALEC process calls the corporate interests “members” instead of “lobbyists”. But, just as with normal lobbyists, it can be hard to trace the bills presented at ALEC events with their corporate sponsors members. Libertarian and liberty-minded individuals should be fighting against crony capitalism; this system creates another possible outlet for the expansion of crony capitalism.

As I said before I support what ALEC says it was setup for. However I do not see why taxpayers should be paying dues and travel for a political organization that basically renames lobbyists and pushes out legislation that enters the realm of crony capitalism.

NCSL – National Conference of State Legislatures

The NCSL, another organization supposedly serving American legislatures. Here is how NCSL describes itself:

The National Conference of State Legislatures is a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the nation’s 50 states, its commonwealths and territories.  NCSL provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues.  NCSL is an effective and respected advocate for the interests of state governments before Congress and federal agencies. NCSL is your organization.  The leadership of NCSL is composed of legislators and staff from across the country.  The NCSL Executive Committee provides overall direction on operations of the Conference.

NCSL could be seen as the opposite of ALEC, with the same potential results. Many big government solutions either originate or are pushed by lobbyist via the NCSL. A recent examples is the Main Street Fairness Act (Internet Tax). The NCSL has been responsible for the state-level laws that allow the federalization of the internet tax to become reality. Lobbyists then used the NCSL as a conduit to push this crony capitalistic legislation through so small business innovation could be stifled.

The NCSL has had a large part to play in states adopting common core standards for public education. Their website has a lot of information available to assist state legislatures implement common core (login required for most of the info). As people start to wake up to the dangers of common core they may want to look at the NCSL.  The lobby groups using NCSL are pushing further Federal control over education.

Hopefully those fighting against ALEC will soon realize the same crony capitalism also exists within NCSL. The main difference between the two organizations is that the NCSL uses think-tanks supporting big government solutions. These think-tanks are financially supported by the very same crony-capitalists lobby groups that support ALEC.

CSG – Council of State Governments

And finally there is the CSG. Here is what the CSG has to say about itself:

Founded in 1933, The Council of State Governments is our nation’s only organization serving all three branches of state government. CSG is a region-based forum that fosters the exchange of insights and ideas to help state officials shape public policy. This offers unparalleled regional, national and international opportunities to network, develop leaders, collaborate and create problem-solving partnerships.

CSG is an interesting organization because they try to appear to be more like the NCSL, however they were accepting corporate sponsorship’s members long before ALEC came around. A recent example of that is the Fracking Chemical Disclosure Model Bill. Huffington Post has an example of this for Florida, but it has happened all over the country.

CSG has been a great outlet for lobby groups to push any agenda under the sun. While ALEC has a more conservative focus and the NCSL has a big-government focus the CSG has a “anyone that has money can have our focus” approach. In fact corporate members of the CSG can “vote” on model bills.

Of the three groups I am least familiar with the CSG. However I believe this organization may in fact potentially be the worse offender for crony capitalism.

So Now What?

I believe all three organizations can be a conduit for crony capitalism. This crony capitalism may not have been intended in any of the organizations; however it still exists despite the intentions. Going forward I believe states must stop paying dues and any travel fees associated with ALEC, NCSL, and CSG. It makes no logical sense for taxpayers to fund the very crony capitalism that hurts free markets. All three organizations are nothing more than ‘bill mills’.

The South Dakota Democratic Party has posted a petition asking for “No Tax Dollars for ALEC Due!”. If they were to change this to “No Tax Dollars for ALEC, NCSL, or CSG Dues” I would back their cause. It would be great to support the SDDP on an issue that fights against crony capitalism. Is the SDDP willing to fight crony capitalism that is ‘on their side’? I’m not sure. But I know most libertarians and true conservatives are ready to fight against crony capitalism everywhere; especially if they claim to be ‘on my side’.