When agricultural subsidies were institutionalized during the New Deal era they kept the country fed and farmers solvent in the face of overlapping economic and environmental disasters. Subsidies were first offered in exchange for not growing major commodities after a decade of oversupply and declining crop values. The policy allowed production to be reduced while the farmer’s income remained constant. A three-part system of subsidies was introduced in the 1934 farm bill with the intent of regulating supply and stabilizing income for farmers regardless of market conditions (Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933). While the details and names of the programs have changed over time, the overall policy of subsidizing commodity production to guarantee an ample supply of food has not (USDA, a).
Today's Orwell Award goes to the unnamed Internet service providers engaged in the clandestine monitoring of "every click you make." We all know that the government lurks in Islamic chat rooms, is curious about your search history, and who might be borrowing Bomb Making for Dummies from the public library. Now tech savvy "business intelligence" companies are leaping at new opportunities to explore your intimate online details. The Washington Post explains the practice:
Although common tracking systems, known as cookies, have counted a consumer's visits to a network of sites, the new monitoring, known as "deep-packet inspection," enables a far wider view -- every Web page visited, every e-mail sent and every search entered. Every bit of data is divided into packets -- like electronic envelopes -- that the system can access and analyze for content.