BUSH AND DOLE: Hey look! Robert Samuelson is slamming the porkalicious budget! However, this generally fine article makes a couple blunders. (I can't believe I'm writing that about a real economist.) First, Samuelson pooh-poohs the notion that the farm dole props up Big Agribusiness, arguing that technology, not subsidies, tanked the family farm. Maybe; who knows what would have happened without the subsidies? But subsidy payoffs inarguably helped big farmers buy out little ones. This is just not in dispute, as far as I know. So even if the family farm would have vanished without the dole, some of the blame for its rapid decline must go to the subsidizers.
Rich Lowry, over on The Blog That Dare Not Speak Its Name, made the other point better than I could: "The indispensable Robert Samuelson points out that there's a corruption behind programs like farm subsidies, that do nothing to promote the public interest but do help politicians get elected: 'Farm subsidies are huge political bribes. Though they are perfectly legal, the ethics are questionable. The trouble is that hardly anyone raises the questions. The silence defines Washington's self-serving and hypocritical "morality."' Why is the “scandal” that certain businessmen give politicians their money? Shouldn't it be much worse when politicians, for utterly self-serving and venal reasons, give favored constituents our money?"