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Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Tinfoil Time

kickAAS: Countdown to Cancun

In following the ripple of interest in the blogosphere about eliminating agricultural subsidies my nose for deceit began to itch. Reducing state control of any part of society, especially one that redistributes material, is so contrary to leftist ideology that there has to be a catch, a hidden agenda. The standard explanation - that agricultural subsidies are poorly targeted and end up enriching the rich, that they are a form of corporate welfare - fails given that reform proposals such as Fischler's were not supported.

There hasn't been a Damascene change, Fischler's proposals are still not supported. Every feasible and sensible idea for reform is still rejected by both the left and libertarians on principle - different principles to be sure, but still... What can this mean?

Perhaps it is a means to discredit reform of subsidies while forcing the political opposition into the awkward position of defending them in apparent disregard for the poor starving children of the third world, and so discredit the conservatives while souring the public on market solutions to economic and social problems. It's a triple win; agricultural reform is poisoned for the foreseeable future, conservatives are damaged, and liberalism in general with its focus on markets is damaged too. It's a socialist's wet dream wedge issue, political kung fu that uses the momentum of libertarians, conservatives and other market liberals against them to sweep them off their feet. There is no down side. Even in the extremely unlikely case that agricultural subsidies were eliminated the socialists would still benefit when the disastrous results of such a nonsensical policy eventuated, market failure on a grand scale.

The problem with this sort of tin foil conspiracy thinking is that there is no evidence that socialists are capable of doing the analysis much less the planning to mount such an effort. And if I can see the silliness of their proposals so can those more informed and talented. It's not a conspiracy, it's just a stunt, an attempt by a declining newspaper to gain some street credibility by dabbling in web logging with an issue sure to have support among the large libertarian contingent of the web. The campaign will fail, subsidies will be secure for the foreseeable future, real attempts at reform like those Fischler has proposed will be ignored, and the world will be unaffected. This is the sort of plan The Guardian is capable of making and implementing. It is the sort of destructive, rabble rousing plan that GROLIES can tolerate if not love.

posted by back40 | 8/20/2003 03:14:00 PM


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