Skip to main content

View Diary: SD-AL: GOP gunning for Herseth (84 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  Democrats have lost credibility (3.71)
    My research interest in WTO/trade/agriculture makes your post especially compelling to me. And in my opinion, you are absolutely right. there are some things standing in our way. Democrats, as they have been tied increasingly to their urban constituents, have abandoned rural America. the new Deal coalition has basically been torn apart because of both GOP offense and Democratic sell-outs. i point to our farm policy. if anyone has an interest, i wrote a 30 page paper on the history of the CCC (Commodity Credit Corporation), the use of the nonrecourse loan and corn production. this may sound dry, but it is extremely important politically, because i cover how starting with Eisenhower, who wanted to desperately break apart the New Deal coalition, there has been a systematic assault on the New Deal farm policies (i.e. as Communist, stalinist, whatever), attacking primarily the nonrecourse loan, culminating in 1996 with Clinton's Freedom to Farm act, which has basically been a disaster for all rural economies. it is incredibly fascinating to see the seeds of monetarist/free market ideology begin in the 50s, to culminating to its ascendance today. I also cannot recommend enough Al Krebs' book Corporate Reapers, a breathtaking work on the political history of American agriculture. must reading for any Democrat who wants to win back the prairie states.

    how the hell can you sell the democratic party as it is today in places like SD when it is controlled by free-traders who pass NAFTA, the WTO, and approve mega corporate merger after mega corporate merger in agribusiness??? JOhn Nichols had a great story on this in the Nation (Democrats need a new rural strategy).

    becuase of the blurring of ideological lines among Dems/GOP on corproate agribusiness (after all, Grassley and Daschle and Harkin all pretty much vote according to populist principles when it comes to agriculture), the Dem party has now become known primarily for its cultural elite social issues (abortion/gay marriage) that even if parts of rural America don't mind, it's not gonna swing them over or given them a compelling reason to vote Dem. you can see this bias among Dem activists. the stuff in SF or the constitional amendment on gay marriage will generate reams of publicity, the usual Democratic activists groups will raise hell, Kos will blog about it, people will discuss and argue about it.

    when something like an IBP (meatpacker) is bought out by Tyson Foods, or Archer Daniels Midland buys out Minnesota Corn Growers (giving them the majority of the ethanol market), there's nothing in the press. no organized Democrat elite interest group (except for Public Citizen) to raise the issue, no outcry from the grassroots Democrats. but folks in farm states hear about those mergers, it sends shudders of fear and terror over their future. maybe because these issue are more esoteric, abstract and hard to grasp than something as emotionally charged as gay marriage. but those types of decisions are what has devastated farm economies in the heartland. those are the issues Dems need to be running on and addressing. and outside of Kucinich, no Democrat prez candidate does a very good job of it. Our legacy of uplifting people included strong antitrust laws and government controlled supply management of agriculture. since we no longer really advocate forcefully for those policy tools, what difference does it make to vote Republican or Democrat?

    And that is essentially, why i voted Nader in 2000 and agree with his general statement that the parties are more alike than different.

    •  Return to AgriCulture not Agribusiness (none)
      Great post, thanks.

      Increasing corporatization of everything really is the key, but the Dems break everything up into tiny issues of specific policies to mask the corportization of the political parties.

      "Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself." -- Martin Vanbee

      by a gilas girl on Tue Feb 24, 2004 at 07:23:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Count me interested (none)
      Would you be willing to summarize it for a general audience?
    •  yeah but... (none)
      at this point in time which party do you think is even vaguely capable of being able to see that there is Agriculture vs. Agribusiness? I saw a great speech by Paul Wellstone a few years back about family farms that was killer, and you'd never even hear such a thing in the GOP. The Dem Party has a chance to be very very good on these very crucial large issues that are just under the media horizon (for isn't Agriculture a major component of the Environment issue, the great kahuna issue that no one in the media really dares address?) The GOP has no chance at all. We have the opportunity to move our party to where it will eventually need to be, and that potential will have to do for now.
      •  absolutely (none)
        Wellstone represents the last of the great Populist tradition--do i see anyone remotely like that in Congress? probably why i cried buckets when he died. outside of Kucinich, maybe Feingold, bernie Sanders, Harkin, they are very few and rather lonely. you have good liberals like Boxer and Durkin, but i don't identify them as coming from prairie populism. our prototypical Democrat is someone like Feinstein or Kerry (although kerry did vote AGAINST the freedom to farm act, i have been told it was because he thought it still had TOO MUCH subsidies--ha).
    •  Free Trade and Corporations (4.00)
      One area where liberals need to look more closely is on the rhetoric of "free trade" and "coporatism". The problem isn't corporations - a corporation is a legal structure. The problem is that a small fraction of the people who have stock control the entirety of corporate America.

      Most stock is owned through mutual funds, and through pension plans. That is, ordinary people are a huge percentage of the theoretical ownership of corporations. Guess what, funds almost never vote against management. It would be like living in America, and not being able to vote - or more closely, having a Presidential election, where all of the electors were picked by appointed judges.

      The fundamental collision - they need our money, but don't want our input - is across the society, not just in corporations. But it is in corporate America - and Europe, and Asia - where the level of accountability is lowest.

      Corporate Democracy  was one of the keystones of the New Deal, as was, in fact free trade.

      - - -

      Free Trade was one of the cornerstones of the constitution - the US constitution creates a free trade zone - with teeth - among the states. But it assures free mobility of labor - as well as capital and goods. The new US government also established banking and land policies meant explicitly to enhance this freedom. By taking on the Revolutionary war debt, and assuring the currency - the Federalist Party took on a huge burden relative to what could be called "GDP" of the time - larger than any taken on since in proportion to the amount of money available.

      So, we recognized early that "free trade", like "free speech" and "free elections" isn't free of cost.

      And it is here, not in trade liberalization, that the problem lies. The problem isn't in giving the person who earns 50 yuan a day in Xian a chance at a better life - Democrats, who believe in human dignity shouldn't be saying "we want our lives to be better at other people's expense" - the problem is that we have given incentives to business, here, not to produce new goods and services. We've given tax incentives to borrow for the wrong reasons, consume far too much imported energy, and to burn through accumulated capital. We've spent far too much on military hardware which does not rationally improve our security - nor anyone elses.

      America has to be weaned from the prodigal 20th century cold war economy. It is this, and the lack of accountability of those who manage corporations to those who actually own them - and to the society which fosters them and creates an environment for them to function in - that causes the heart of the dislocations of people and production that we face.

      The Republican leadership are not the leading the party of free trade - instead, they are the party of driving costs down by exposing some people to competition, and not others. People who are in certain sectors of the economy face no significant competition from abroad - the Republican economic program is to create a core of "protected" jobs - which they control - and put everyone else to competition to lower and lower wages. The race to the bottom, to the Republican leadership, is a spectator sport - and they can watch the rest of usdo it all day, in a season that never ends.

      The answer is not protectionism, or anti-corporatism. These attack vague, and in fact unalterable realities - we live on the same globe - globalism will not go away. Corporations give people the ability to create economically, without risking their house and personal property - without them, we would be far less able to produce.

      The answer, however, is to have corporations abide by the rules of a Democratic society. The solution is to not subsidize lowering of wages, and not create protected classes of people. The solution is to move the economy off of inefficient models of production and consumption - because only that prosperity is sustainable.

      And it is sustainability which is the key concept - and which is a test which needs to be built into our economic system. Do this, and over time, the practices which are leading to poverty, lack of opportunity and, indeed, the hatreds that people use to justify protecting their privileges - will go the way chastity belts.

      This means reducing incentives to practices such as monoculture, over reliance on pesticides and fertilizers, abuse of the commons, attempts to impose artificial "intellectual property" rules on biological products, race to the bottom standards of food quality - the list is not short. Agricultural policy can work in this country - but it will require a thorough revision of the partnership between those who grow - and those who use the results.

      •  WTO (none)
        it's a basic class conflict in my opinion, in terms of agriculture. the producers get shit, the middlemen get everything, Americans get crappy food. thus, why ranchers and cattlemen are so upset these days and why the Dems should try and address this issue. the people who benefit from our current system are the ones who like cheap commodities: food processors, grain traders/buyers, supermarkets, investment banks who profit off the big corporations. Adam Smith would recognize this system as closer to the problems involved with mercantalism than the "free markets" he saw, where producers and buyers were on equal footing.

        i do think the only solution to farm policy is govt. controlled price supports that redistributes income from corporations to farmers. "free markets" simply don't work for such an inelastic product.

        •  "free markets" (none)
          "it's a basic class conflict in my opinion, in terms of agriculture. the producers get shit, the middlemen get everything, Americans get crappy food."

          Agreed on all counts. Now let's start working through some policy ideas to get out of that. Ones which don't require we all sing in tune after the revolution (Dr. Zhivago reference).

          My first and simplest suggestion would be to stop subsidizing the mega-agricorporations and change the way farm subsidies work so that far more money goes to the farmer - family or otherwise. My second suggestion would be to force options to be accounted as an expense - and then exempt certain kinds of businesses - including agriculture. We could the create a system where the Federal government collects options from companies for subisidies, and then distributes those options to farmers as part the system - at which point farmers would own a chunk of agribusiness.

          Another important change would be to make the Agricultural Banking system far more aggressive and entrepreneurial in developing new products and ventures between those who grow, and those who produce. By having agribanks back ventures, the result would be a stake in the result for the constituencies for the agricutlural banks.

          There is a lot here, and perhaps it is time to post some diary entries to dig into it.

          - - -

          Free markets work - but not abstract exchange driven ones, simply because there are too many "goods" that money does not price very well. Having a healthy well fed population is one.

          A deep part of this solution is to go to single payer health. Why? Because it would put the government on the hook for encouraging bad nutrition. Right now, the government has incentive to let people smoke and eat badly - it gets the taxes, people die early so it doesn't strain the pension funds, and it only pays a fraction of the health care.

          Perverse incentives apply not just to individuals... and a new economic policy has to all tie together.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site