What do you think of the new farm subsidy bill?

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Freedom! self reliance : One Thread

Would like to get some thoughts on this. Am I the only one who seems to think this is a gigantic rip-off? It seems to serve no useful purpose other than allow farmers who are inept to stay in business. It also gives huge amounts to corporate farms. We are producing many commodities at a rate that we can't even consume. It seems senseless.

For a little background go to :


Talk to you later.

-- Bob in WI (bjwick@hotmail.com), December 18, 2001


If we can give billions to folks all over the world why not keep some of that here. If it was that we did not have surplus how much would you be paying for food? This is just my thoughts GOD bless Indiana Country Friend Jack Bunyard

-- Jack Bunyard (bunyard@cnz.com), December 19, 2001.

Corporate farms are really destroying so much of this country....I am against bailing out corporations. I also think there is a lot wrong with paing farmers not to grow produce. If it weren't for all the politicking we could actually sell the surplus and give much to nations experiencing droughts and famines, etc........Sigh.

-- Doreen (bisquit@here.com), December 19, 2001.

I wouldn't mind so much if this money went to REAL farmers and not to the big corporate entities. The last numbers I heard were something in the area of 85% of these subsidies went to people like ADM, Tyson and the like.

With the mindset of controlling the foodchain from "Seed to shelf", Paying these turds to undermine small family farmers seems decidedly poor judgement. Look what those bastards did to the hog industry only a year ago. The idea of "Farmers" being hourly wage slaves for some mega-farm conglomerate honks me off.

Senator Dick Lugar (R IN) gave a speech on Sept 9th about this very topic. Unfortunatly, the events of 2 days later buried it.

There are a lot of issues related to our agriculture system that need attention- GMO's, "Terminator" seeds, Soil depletion, BS organic standards being taken by these companies and used to mislead the public, Pollution from mega hog operations and feedlots, antibiotics and hormones, etc. LOT'S of others.

If Uncle Sam is going to be giving billions of our $$ away anyway (can't stop 'em and a whole 'nuther topic), I'd like to see some of it go to helping small family farms, and young people get started in farming.

I will now vacate the soap box and turn the floor over to the next panelist.

-- John in S. IN (jdoofus@hotmail.com), December 19, 2001.

Jack said "If we can give billions to folks all over the world" The major countries that provide aid to others spend the majority of the aid money at home. When you see those sacks of US wheat being unloaded in Kabul the purchase price went to US farmers, giving the wheat to the starving is just an alternative to stockpiling or dumping it.

-- john hill (john@cnd.co.nz), December 19, 2001.

Yeah, I saw those. But what about the billions of bushels of wheat and such that you DON'T see? I read a post in another forum a few days ago from a farmer in Australia. He was very sore at us Yanks.

He claims (and I haven't little reason to about this) that our farm subsidies are causing grevious harm to the agricultural industry in his country. While he agree giving this food to those starving in poorer countries is a noble aim, that is not what the vast majority of the US food production is being used for. So far, it appears that instead of giving the excess food to those that need it, we are using the vast majority of our oversupply to undercut the agricultural industries of other countries with otherwise healthy food production capablility. That is not playing very nice.

If you think our farm subsidies are helping our struggling family farmers, you'd be wrong. Instead, that money is going to their corporate competitors that want to hammer in the final nail in the coffin of the era of the family farm.

Does the idea of a monopoly on food horrify you? If we let Bush and his buddies continue with this course, we may well be having one on our hands soon.

-- Nexar (Icant@tellyou.com), December 19, 2001.

BTW, be on the lookout. It seems that LUSENET's resident troll has finally found this forum. I believe he has already struck in the "Chicken Poop" thread.

-- Nexar (Arax7@mvn.net), December 19, 2001.

Nexar, This farm bill is just a continuation of what's been going on for 40-50 years. Don't blame Dubya. You CAN blame him for going along, or not changing the status quo. Hell, there's plenty of rights infringment issues you can blame on him. The milk cartels are the brainchild of Jim Jeffords and Teddy Kennedy. Former Republican and Democrat respectively. Artificial inflation of sugar has been going on for a long time.........I can't understand why that bunch needs more money.

And what's the deal w/ the troll? I've seen the references at the Lusenet site listing. Oh yeah, what chicken poop thread? Did I miss something again?

-- John in S. IN (jdoofus@hotmail.com), December 19, 2001.

Maybe it got deleted.

Anyway, there have been reports of a troller terrorizing the other forums at LUSENET lately. The character in question makes innane and insulting posts for the fun of it, usually of a sexually explict nature. Keep an eye out for such posts.

-- Nexar (Arax7@mvn.net), December 20, 2001.

Hi my name is Jack Bunyard I live in Franklin county Indiana on a 118 ac. farm . I dont see why I cant give my views with out being dumped on .I for one do not belive that all the farm subsides go to big corp. farms as the small family farms around here do benifit from some of these. My family farm got paid in full for all but 10% of all water way work done on are farm this year.I know all the farmers in my group have taken advantage of this . Now I am not saying we should be paid to farm but if the money is to be spent that it should stay in the good old U.S.A. As with all Gov. programs they have there faults and it is up to us to try to get them changed. The big chemical cop. should be stoped and they should stop playing god with are seed supply. I have came to this site many times and have posted many times I am sorry if you dont like my ideas but I dont dump on any of your ideas. I am just a simple country guy with ideas of my own just like everyone else out there. Indiana Country Friend Jack Bunyard

-- Jack Bunyard (bunyard@cnz.com), December 20, 2001.

There's a clever chap who uses the handle Al Kaeda on the Chicken Poop thread. Let them alone and they usually go away.

About this corporate takeover of the food supply; the only way to deal with it is to boycott them through growing as much as you can and buying from Farmer's Markets etc. That's the only proactive action to take beyond writing your Congresspersons.

-- (XP ALlydocious@no.no), December 20, 2001.

I wasn't going to get in on this, but I guess I may as well give you some thoughts from a real live diary farmer.

Bob, since you refer us to an article at World Net Daily, I have printed it off so I can respond to you and the article you used as background a little more accurately than just from memory.

Although World Net Daily is one of my favorite sources for news, it saddens me to see a piece written with obviously little research done. I just wish one time someone would come out here and ask us questions and work with us for a short time before they make the statements they do. We would even open up our books so they can see the real figures for themselves.

In a nutshell, we are not overproducing in this country so much as we are over importing. NAFTA and GATT have had a devastating effect on this country in all areas of maufacturing, including farming. We imported over 110 million metric tons of cheese in l999, all the while being told we were overproducing. We cannot compete with third world country wages. We have lost over 1/2 the dairy farms in our area in just the last ten years, and no, they were not a bunch of inept farmers.

We have no debt, no other income and no employees. We practice intensive grazing when we're not in a drought, raise our own replacements and never buy new equipment or vehicles. We just went through one of the toughtest times we've ever been through and didn't make any money for almost eighteen months. We were paid 1970 prices and have 21st century expenses. How many of you are making $1.65 an hour today. If memory serves me correctly, I believe that was the minimum wage in l970. All the while we were being told by the co-op we sell our milk through that we were producing too much and the imports kept rolling in and the prices to you, the consumer, remained the same in the stores. Funny how the price paid to us for milk has gone up to a decent level since Foot and Mouth Disease has stopped some of the imports.

The subsidies that the government paid to us last year totalled $776.00 There was a cap on the amount paid to any one farm and the larger ones did not receive over a certain amount. It was based on pounds of milk produced the year before and they only paid up to so many pounds. Others in our area got a lot more than us, but not that much more. We compare notes. Do you really think that's keeping us in business? That was paid because of the incredibly low milk prices and called the Livestock Assistance Program. We don't need that, just a fair price for our milk, which we have no say in how much that is. By the way, it's nothing for a farmer to GROSS $250,000.00. It's the net that we have to live on. We have friends who easilygross $250,000.00 in milk and calf sales. They had to cash in life insurance policies, sell heifers that they needed for replacement, sell trees from their woods and borrow over (way over) $100,000.00 to pay the bills and eat. Their newest tractor is a l976 model and their newest pickup is a l985. They live on the farm he was raised on. This is all he's ever done. HE knows how to farm. They have also moved to Intensive grazing, etc, etc. But we can only cut expenses so much.

This is getting too long and I could go on much more. There's a lot I've left out. But take a look around. Where have all the shoe, clothing and for that matter, most all our manufacturing plants gone? We have three, just this very week, announcing their closings in our area. They are all going to Mexico. That's not a guess on my part, they said so themselves. The tomatoes have gone south. Those of you living in tomato growing regions should have noticed that.

All the while, the media and our politicians are telling us how great the new markets are because of NAFTA and GATT. How it's obvious that many farmers shouldn't be here. Government is propping up the farms. By the way. I don't know if it works this way with all aspectsof farming, but in dairy, the price support ($9.90 per hundred weight) is what the government is willing to pay for goods if they're in the market to buy them. (school lunch programs,etc.). Prices to us out here on the farms have and can definitely go below that number. And the government never props us up when they do. It's sink or swim.

It's nice to say just go out and get a job. Tell that to a 50+ year old man who's never done anything else in his life, so has no other skills, to do that. Even with experience, that's hard to do at 50+ with any job. And remember, it's not just a matter of locking a door and cancelling a lease on a building. You may have payments on equipment that you can't sell to payoff because the other farmers can't buy it. They're in the same boat. You don't have unemployment benefits. And this is your home! That complicates it. We know more than one dairy farmer that when they go out of business, it's bankruptcy and they have to go live with relatives because even their personal belongings are sold at auction to try to satisfy the debt.We are headed toward being a country produces nothing but fast food (all of which has been imported) and talk. Won't it be nice when we depend on other countries to feed us. They're already putting the shoes on our feet and the clothes on our backs.

Most farmers are still farming because we have too much invested, both money and lives, it's all that many have ever done,they have no where else to go and we're the eternal optomists. Surely it will get better if we just hang in there. Those who recognize it, hopes that someone, somewhere will eventually realize how bad it is not to be self sufficient as a country. We need to supply our own food, at least.

You asked for thoughts. Sorry this is so long winded, but there's at least some of them.We don't know all about all farm bills, but we do know that we're not getting paid and neither are the "Corporate" farms that we're familiar with. Sure, they get some money, but we've witnessed a lot of them go under, too. You just don't hear about them in the news. They take a lot down with them when they go. Studies have shown that the small family farms are the most efficient. Don't see that too often.

I'm not sure who really benefits from the farm bills. Maybe the ones who manage it. I don't know. But it sure isn't us.

And let's not be confused with the programs that assist farmers with putting in water systems and such. I'm referring to the charge that our living is being propped up and allowing us inept farmers to stay in business.

-- LS in MO (farmerj@fidmail.com), December 20, 2001.

Excellent, LS! Thanks so much for your input. I sure hope someone realizes we need to produce some things here at home, too.

Jack, I'm sorry you got jumped on. I appreciate your input and point of view.

-- Doreen (bisquit@here.com), December 20, 2001.

LS, well said and informative. I read that editorial and sent Ms. Chastian an email about it. I directed her to a couple of places and people who she can get research from who can explain things better than I can.

I wish folks in her position would talk to real people and look them in the eye and then tell you that you should go get a job in the food service industry (like waiting tables). I doubt she could do it then. Those folks don't understand that the farm life is just that.......A way of life. It's part of the community that has been so integral to our country forever.

I cannot fathom how we need to import cheese into this country. I had no idea. I know from going to the grocery that LOTS of the produce and fruits are from Central and South America. Not just this time of year either.

Jack, don't be discouraged. I don't think anyone meant to dump on you personally. I think you can see that most of these people here are of the opinion that "if your going to be giving away $$, give it to those here who could use it". Those of us who have been around awhile know you enough to respect your input.

I'd like to see young people be able to get into farming. I work w/ a lady who's husband farms approx 800 acres. 400 of their own. They have a small hog operation and row crops. She was trying to figure out what kind of career her 12 y/o boy should get into the other day. What a shame. She doesn't think he'll also be able to make a living on what they have now.

I wish I had some brilliant answer for these things. Maybe it should be a requirement to know the name of the guy who grows your food.

-- John in S. IN (jsmengel@hotmail.com), December 20, 2001.


Enjoyed your post and I know you are probably correct. I have lived surrounded by dairy farms here in Wi, so I am quite familiar with your problems. I have one question to ask you though, you don't have to reply. Who did you vote for in 92 & 96. The guy who gave you NAFTA & GATT or the other guy?

Talk to you later.

-- Bob in WI (bjwick@hotmail.com), December 21, 2001.

Hi Bob,

Don't really know what to think of your question. We are very conservative, pro-life, pro-gun born again christians. That should give you a clue as to who we wouldn't be able to vote for. We don't think the government exists to provide jobs nor does it make a nice nanny. It's suppose to be there to protect our nation, both inside and outside our borders. That includes protecting us from practices which will rob us of our American way of life. That life will be impossible to maintain if we are dependent on other countries for our needs. And, we are rapidly heading that way. Who do we blame for something so obviously detrimental to the USA, like NAFTA and GATT? The guy who signed it or the ones who voted to have it sent to his desk for signing? That's what makes us so sad about all this. We can't understand how any thinking, intelligent American cannot see how this is affecting us. How can anyone stand by and watch industry after industry move out of this country to another, only to bring the goods back in without tariffs, and say this is good for our economy? We used to boast proudly about how blessed America was because we were able to produce all our needs right here at home. What happened to that?

We we're listening to Walter WIlliams this afternoon. An intelligent, wonderful man who just doesn't get it. He thinks it's just fine if we import all our tomatoes from Mexico and all our beef from Argentina. He can't see where that can and will lead to the end of our self sufficiency in those areas and dependent on others for our food supply. When the caller suggested he may think about it when he's starving someday if our farms are gone and the imports have ceased. He scoffed at the caller. I'm afraid that's what is being done behind our backs by those in power. They have turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to what is going on at this very moment. It's sad when all we can do as ordinary citizens is watch the USA go down tubes.

I'm afraid the farm subsidy bill or any kind of subsidy bill for that matter is merely an attempt by the politicians to place a band-aid on the wound they caused in the first place. It's not a fix, it's self- serving. They're looking for votes.

For your information: The monies we received for the Livestock Assistance Program was considered earned income, subject to over 15% self-employment tax and any applicable income tax.

-- LS in MO (farmerj@fidmail.com), December 21, 2001.


Enjoyed your reply. Have to agree with you on how do you determine who deserves the blame when a bad bill is passed. (ie,NAFTA or GATT ) It is obvious that both sides are to blame, but with our media reporting things the way they want us to see them it is virtually impossible to really get at the truth. Sites like World Net Daily, Drudge Report, and a few others usually seem to tell what is really going on. I wish there were more of them though.

You are correct we need to produce most if not all of our goods here at home. We can not be dependent on someone else to feed or clothe us. Look at what our dependence on foreign oil does to us. It rules our lives in so many ways.

Couldn't agreee with you more that the country is going down the tubes. From morals to schools to military readiness to CIA and FBI surveillence on bad guys, from failed government programs to lousy trade negotiations. I could go on with this list for quite a while. The point being we still have time to change this, but it won't happen if we all want somebody to do it. It needs to be everybody. And very soon.

I guess the point that set me off on this whole surplus/subsidy thing was the fact that we in the US have a large surplus of sugar. The following 3 excerpts form a USDA site make my point. It also shows how NAFTA is making matters much worse.

1) The US government is currently holding 174,000 tons of refined sugar in inventory. Because US market prices are at an 18-year low and approximately 4 cents/lb below the price needed to encourage CCC sugar loan repayments, a significant amount of the 640,000 tons of refined beet sugar pledged as collateral under the Sugar Program for outstanding non-recourse loans is expected to be forfeited during the remainder of FY 2000. The PIK program is generally viewed as a short term solution and inadequate to address the fundamental supply/demand imbalance in the US market.

2) Mexico Seeks NAFTA Panel in Sweeteners Dispute with US On August 17, Mexico's Secretary of Commerce and Industrial Promotion (SECOFI), Herminio Blanco, officially requested a NAFTA Panel to resolve the dispute over Mexico's access to the US sugar market. Part of the work of the panel will be to rule on the role of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in the formula used to calculate Mexico's surplus sugar production under the NAFTA.

3) The Mexico-US dispute centres on the validity of a side letter to the NAFTA. According to Mexico, the NAFTA entitles Mexico to export its entire "surplus" sugar production to the US, starting October 2000. The US would like to limit Mexico's access to the surplus sugar production minus Mexico's HFCS consumption. This US interpretation of Mexico's surplus is based on a side letter to the NAFTA although it appears that the side letter was never signed by Mexico. As a result, Mexico is claiming the NAFTA text determines its access. The difference is significant. According to some reports, Mexico's interpretation would allow shipments in the range of 500,000 - 600,000 tonnes annually beginning October 1, while the US definition would limit access to the 100,000 to 150,000 tonne range (note: Canada's access to the US is restricted to 10,300 tonnes).

We in the US are paying 3 times as much for sugar as the rest of the world. If you don't believe that look at the commodity prices for sugar. World market: 7 cents/lb. US market 21 cents/pound. This is probably the extreme example of what is wrong with subsidies. I have no problem with subsidies to farmers etc. if they are competing in an unfair market where some foreign country subsidises its farmers, but to subsidise farmers to charge the consumer more, as in the case of sugar is wrong. It is robbing Peter to pay Paul. It should not continue.

Yes, depite our huge surplus, because of NAFTA we are forced to buy large quantities of sugar for other nations. It is insane, where will it all end. Remember in the 80's when Reagan gave away all the cheese. He was called many things for doing that. It was the obvious choice because it was costing us many millions of dollars just to store the cheese. I am sure that getting rid of the surplus did not make milk prices fall to any degree.

If politicians were not so worrried about getting re-elected they would not give all this stuff to everybody, just for their votes. Most of these programs make little sense if you seriously look at them. They should be abolished in an orderly fashion, but with NAFTA etc. it is unlikely that this will ever happen in the USA.

Talk to you later.

-- Bob in WI (bjwick@hotmail.com), December 22, 2001.

Hi Bob,

Can you hear the applause? We just couldn't agree with you more. We're on the same page.

The sugar situation is such a good example of how simple it would be if the borders were shut off to the undercutting imports and we satisfied our needs first and let the chips fall where they may on the surplus. That would allow supply and demand to actually work and things would level out WITHOUT government intervention. But, with their noses stuck in this, the poor farmer doesn't have a chance. Nor any other aspect of production in this country.

How about the steel industry? And, like you said, our oil dependency. We need to explore for oil on our own turf, but how do we get this idea across to people? And with all the hoopla about enviornmentalism, why are the alternative energy sources not used more and more advanced than they are?

Better stop now. We're just like you, we could go on and on. I wish I could believe you, though, about being able to turn things around. When I watch the election results come in, see protesters showcased on the news harping about how we can't afford to fund our military and we need to stop bombing because it won't accomplish anything, I realize how brainwashed people really are. And I have to wonder how things got to this point and how can they ever turn around?

It's been a most enjoyable conversation. Thank you, very much. Have a blessed Christmas. LS

-- LS in MO (farmerj@fidmail.com), December 22, 2001.

LS & family,

May God give you a blessed and joyous Christmas and New Year.

Talk to you later.

-- Bob in WI (bjwick@hotmail.com), December 22, 2001.

I recall when NAFTA and GATT were passed. There wasn't really any REAL opposition to it. Those few brave souls that dared to disagree were generally either drowned out, or laughed out of the Capitol Building.

Though I am against NAFTA and GATT, I seem to see it differently than the two of you. To me, NAFTA and GATT appears to be tools for forcing countries (including the US itself) into a "race to the bottom" effect. In effect, in order remain in the game economically, the countries are pressured to lower labor costs and regulation expenses under threat of of business moving to another country where the standards are even lower. Free Trade would be great if every country held the same high standards as the US, but the reality is, they do not.

Here in the US, a company is required to pay a minimum wage of about $5.00 per hour (can't remember the exact figure) not counting such factors as insurance, social security and such. In Mexico on the other hand, wages of $.50 per hour without any added benefits are not uncommon. With the trade regulations that would normally balance these factors out of the picture, moving operations to Mexico starts to look very attractive indeed. Such a move would slash labor costs by 90+%. For those looking to expand the Bottom Line, that looks very attractive indeed.

As for the environment issue, most people on the Hill merely pay lip service to the environment. Why hasn't there been many alternative energy breakthroughs you ask? Well for one, there is hardly any funding at all from the government in this regard (thanks to Reagan & Co.). And as for the private companies, they're not doing much research either, mainly because the market incentive for such projects is too small. (Plainspeak translation: Not enough profit!)

As for drilling for oil and environmental concerns, I believe that it IS possible to extract the oil from ANWR while causing only a minimal environmental impact, but who is going to hold the oil companies to that? I can see them making such promises, only to break them in the name of expediency (and profit).

I understand the concept of supply and demand, but my concern is that when the supply side gets concentrated into fewer and fewer hands, the easier it will be for them to extract higher prices and lower quality standards by manipulating the supply in cases where, for one reason or another, a decrease in demand is not likely or virtually impossible. Hey, a person can get by without a Playstation 2, a PC, or a Stereo, but NO ONE can survive with food, clean water, and shelter.

I may be wrong on this, but in my view, monopolies are the natural end result of totally unregulated free markets. However, when a monopoly is established, then the market in question is no longer free, as the monopolizer can pretty much dictate economic policy at will.

Monopolies are bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, BAD!! In fact, monopolies have more in common with Communism, which you free market champions almost universally claim to hate.

In Communism. all of the market functions are controlled by a single enitity, namely the State. In this respect, Communism can be considered the Ultimate Monopoly. We can all look at the former Soviet Union and see what kind of mess THAT created!

I am of the opinion that there is no such thing as a totally free "free market". In such systems, someone will inevitably emerge on top and begin to dictate market policy, at which point the "free" market is no longer free at all.

In my view, without occasional outside intervention, free markets are inherently self-limiting in terms of lifespan.

Monopolies are bad. They force prices up, and quality and incentive down. Not a good thing at all.

Monopolies are bad...mmmkay?

-- Nexar (Arax7@mvn.net), December 23, 2001.

Have to agree with you about monopolies. Public schools are monopolies . No more needs to be said on that topic.

-- Bob in WI (bjwick@hotmail.com), December 25, 2001.

Well, at least its a monopoly where, at least in theory, you have a say the policies. As privatizing schools, I'd rather have no schools at all rather than have the multi-nationals in charge. Though I admit there is a LOT wrong with our public schools system, I shudder to think of an educational system where quality or even the truth itself is sacrificed in the interest of the Bottom Line. Even though I'm not totally opposed to the idea, I am horrified at the thought of having such an awesome responsiblity falling into the hands of those whose motives are utterly self-serving.

I am concerned with the abuse of our school system, but is privatization the answer? Or does it set the stage for even more abuse? Don't get me wrong, I think home-schooling is wonderful, but the amount of education it provides is limited to the education level of the parents. Parents can only provide so much in this regard. And as for private entities taking over, that sounds good, until the parents find out they cannot afford the tuition.....

Home-schooling is fine, but it is also limited. The running of schools by private companies encourages the bending of the education system to the desires of the companies in question (which do not neccessarily reflect the needs and desires of the community).

My main fear of privatization that it may set the stage for the return of the state of education that has been the status quo for the majority of human history, that of education being the exclusive domain of the wealthy while everyone else is left out in the cold.

I'd rather see society going according to a cooperative model and instead of a competitive one. The competitive model may suit the people on the winning side just fine. The people on the other end (on which many people end up on through no fault of their own, contrary to what some might say) however, would see such a system to be inherently unfair and unjust.

Wasn't Communism supposed to be a cooperative system? In theory, yes, but in most instances the system was hijacked by men with competitive mindsets who then proceeded to use the system to promote their own selfish desires.

Freedom of opprotunity sounds nice, but the reality is that it is often denied to most people by those who have taken advantage of their own opprotunities.

In the end, the search for Utopia always leads back to this quention:

"Quis custodies ipsos custodes?"

Translation: "Who then, shall watch the watchers?"

The Founding Fathers made a good attempt to address this question, but their solution was not perfect, as evidenced by what is happening now.

-- Nexar (Arax7@mvn.net), December 26, 2001.

This is getting way off track, but I am enjoying it all the same Nexar.

As far as people having a say in public education, that is only an urban legend. Have you ever tried to change anything at your local public school? I have many times and the result after several years of frustration, deceception, and generally being ignored was homeschooling for our children.

You say you are afraid to have the responsibility of our childrens' education fall into the hands of those whose motives are self- serving. Well wake up and smell the coffee because it is already happening in this land. The NEA is one of the most self-serving, in the guise of helping, groups in America today. They almost own the democratic party and therefore can control what happens to education in this country, even if it is detrimental to our children. The NEA are the ones most people look to for guidance in educational issues. It is sort of like having the wolf tell sheep how to teach their lambs.

The record of the NEA is abysmal when it comes to promoting true reform in relation to the problems we currently have. Their answer is hire more teachers and throw more money at the problem, a solution that has been offered many times as our children learn less each year rather than admitting what the cause is. Those ideas are not consistent with success, but rather failure. They have no reason to change things. They are in power and they want it to stay that way. That is why vouchers and charter schools are opposed so stringently by the union. They would have no control of those schools, and therefore would lose their power base.

You say homeschooling is limited by the knowledge of the teacher, well the same thing goes for public school. Homeschooled children in most cases can exceed what their parents know by means of the library, computers, etc. They are not on a dead end street like the majority of kids in inner city public schools who cannot even read (70%)on a functional level. This is what public education, by political means, has become today.

Homeschooling is not limited as you say. If you had done it you would know that that assumption was inaccurate. Colleges are beating down the doors of homeschoolers to get their kids to enroll at their insitutions, because they outscore the average public school children by a good margin. That to me spells success, not failure.

Public schools are doomed by politics and politcal correctness. In the area where we used to live the scool board spent more time discussing the school logo and if it was politically correct than they did worrying about education and other important issues facing the school distrct. What was really interesting about this is that a female student who was Native American write a letter to the editor saying that she really didn't feel in any way offended or care, so why should they??? They are probably still debating that point and wasting time instead of trying to improve the school.

Another problem that state schools face is state mandates to do a million things and send in copies in tripicate. Much valuable time and energy goes into this busy work. If parents had control of the schools like they did a couple generations ago, much more would be accomplished.

I can't agree that privitization would lead to the education of only the rich. We today have so many ways to access information that only someone who could not speak the language or could not read would remain ignorant, unless they so chose. In the past in America, many who did not get much of a public education still managed to get a good education by seeking to do so on their own, not relying on the state to do it for them.

I have yet to see a cooperative (communist) system suceed. Indeed if there is one please let me know. Don't tell me China, because any system can succeed with a death threat hanging over the heads of its' citizens. Even all the communes of the 60's & 70's are now defunct. It is a given that people work much harder if they have something to gain instead of just to share, they all rely on the other guy to do it. It has been that way since the earliest times. People can come together for defense, and things like that, but when it comes to work and industry they will always do better on their own.

I will agree with you that not everybody gets the opportunity they would like. I know that I have not. But to make the playing field level for all we have to bring down the ones who will be our future leaders to supposedly bring up the underachievers. This can not be done if we want to stay ahead of our enemies and competitors in the world. It is only common sense that tells us this.

"Who will watch the watchers"?, in the case of education it should be the parents, not the NEA, or the government. No one has more of a vested interest in their children than do their parents, and that is the way it should be. It worked well in the past no reason it won't work well now.

Talk to you later.

-- Bob in WI (bjwick@hotmail.com), December 26, 2001.

I have never seen a cooperative system succeed on a large scale. On the large scale, the governing apparatus is too large and too remote for people to effectively access, and as I said before, many of those systems were hijacked by people with competitive mindsets with the intention of squelching any possible competition. There are numerous examples of smaller communities that have succeeded to some degree. Most of them succumbed mostly due to outside pressures, though regrettably, some have indeed collapsed due to the corruption of the leaders (it happens).

As for the initiative factor, the lack of iniatiave and innovation was a contributing factor to the collapse of Soviet-style communism. If people have no hope of bettering their lot, they are going to invest as little as possible because investing more would be a waste of time and energy. However, the same is beginning to hold true for our system. Anymore, improving one's lot in a company involves getting on the Boss's good side more than working smart or working hard. As it stands, when laborers are considered to be disposable commodities and people recieve little or no reward for working their butts off while others recieve huge windfalls without seemingly lifting a finger, that puts a big time damper on initiative.

Of course, the "initiative" could be just staying employed in order to eke out a bare existence for oneself and one's family, but that delves into the realm of Wage Slavery, which I consider to be inhumane and immoral to say the least.

From what I understand abour the home-schooler, I could be wrong, but it seems most of them that do engage in it were well-educated to begin with, and even THEY have limits to their knowledge. In order to acquire additional knowledge, they must venture outside the home in order to obtain it. Then, who is going to teach the PARENTS? Don't get me wrong, I think home-schooling is a great idea, but it needs to be linked with other systems in order to be successful.

As for learning on one's own, it is true that there are resources out there to educate oneself. My concern is, through, if private entities get a lock on those resources, they may, (and probably will) charge for access to those resources. People then unable to afford it then face a problem.... Unfortunately, the Public School system already discourages this kind of initiative. I remember being shocked and dismayed that when I tried to forge ahead of my peers (in terms of the curriculum) I was discouraged and even THREATENED. (Note: I was tested to have in IQ of 147 (forgot which scale), but anyways, I landed in the top 4% of the population). Needless to say, I felt chained down and extremely bored being forced to remain at the pace of my peers. I agree that the public system needs to be redone or even abolished, but I'm not certain as to what to put in its place. Anyways, I would like to see the system put back into hands of individual parents, and NOT the likes of McDonalds, GE, or Monsanto.

As for your leveling to playing field statement, I say that the playing field DOES need to be leveled. As for future leader's being suppressed, that's already happenind, mainly because our current leaders dread the thought of competition from them. As for propping up the underachievers, I consider that to be a bad thing, but it would be a worse crime to deny support and opprotunties to those that have wound up on the lower end of the spectrum through no fault of their own. Bad things can and do happen to honest, decent, hard- working people. Those folks deserve our help. Not every homeless person you see is a wino or a crackhead. I believe that the deadbeats should be weeded out, but doing away with stuff like social welfare I do not believe is the answer. If the safety net is removed, the deadbeats would be denied their meal ticket, but it also sets the stage for many honest, hard-working people falling through the proverbial cracks and meeting with fates that they clearly don't deserve.

"Who watches the watchers?". According to the Constitution, WE are charged with that task. Problem is, people havem't been very vigilant of late, thus allowing corporate/government collusion to occur and run out of control.

I have yet to see a model of a society that I would endorse. It's strange really, seems like I'm politically homeless. I'm one of those types who is appalled at the excesses of our capitalist, consumer driven society, yet at the same time, I can't imagine myself living in a hippie commune.

-- Nexar (Arax7@mvn.net), December 27, 2001.

Iíve grown up in a small, farming community and I think some of you people don't realize the time and money that go into farming and ranching operation. People don't even often break even with just their profit. How do you except people to live with no money? They not only live the farm they breathe it, drink it and it makes up their whole life style! Their whole life is that farm and if you take it all away by not allowing money from the government to help, you not only ruined these peopleís lives but a national heritage as well.

-- shelby (shelbs2005@hotmail.com), March 11, 2002.

You know Shelby, you should pop over to the Countryside forum and read the threads there concerning this very subject. Maybe too, you could tell me why it is that you think the government (actually, we the taxpayers), owe these people the right to a lifestyle which has to be supported by tax dollars. I am indeed sympathetic, but you know what? I own two small farms- both bought and paid for with money I earned working away from home (one paid for and one still mortgaged). I would dearly LOVE to be able to stay at home and work this land and earn enough money to support myself. But guess what? I can't. And that is why I am not a farmer. Until I have my mortgage paid off I will continue to work away from home. When my place is paid for, and only then, I figure that I can earn enough money farming to be able to stay at home and be a farmer. So, why are the people you describe any more deserving of their lifestyle choice than I am of mine? Why should the government not subsidize my farm lifestyle as well? The fact of the matter is that these people are engaging in a profession in which they cannot earn a living- that is their choice. But, they (and you, if you are one of them) should not expect the rest of us to support you while you're at it. Following is a copy of an excerpt from an article which appeared on the net discussing how abolishing farm subsidies has HELPED farmers there. Maybe we should take a lesson from the Kiwis.

Banning farm subsidies worked in New Zealand Harry Schultz Summarised from the Harry Schultz Letter - 'a financial and liberty- loving newsletter' (HSL, PO Box 622, CH-1001, Lausanne, Switzerland, tel 32 16 533684, fax 32 16 535777; May '94, subs £185)

New Zealand is taking a message to the World Farmer's Congress in Istanbul that should be mandatory reading for all GATT trade members: banning farm subsidies and deregulation of labour is good for farmers, taxpayers, consumers and the environment. Before withdrawal in 1984, subsidies accounted for 40% of NZ farmers' gross income. Since government got out, New Zealand has built an agricultural powerhouse, accounting for 60% of all New Zealand's exports. New Zealand now exports 50% of the world's trade in sheep meat and employs 11% of the workforce. The other benefits have been: increased wages, lower agricultural costs, higher profits, more efficient fertiliser use and reforestation of undesirable land.

-- Elizabeth (ekfla@aol.com), March 11, 2002.

i think its a shame. work for these guys once they will work the hell out of you for 2 maybe 3 months out of the year then give you a measly wage that you possiblycantexist or raise a family on. then the big farmer dosent have to pay into unemployment compensation so there you sit without and the laboer has nothing to get by on while the corpoate farmer sits in the tavern while his $40,000 doller pickup sits and idles outside whith his wives surburban of the same value sits beside of it while she talks obout the deal she got on somthing at stores 150 miles away from home i really think its awful truly sad

-- paul schneider (pms@wigloo.zzn.com), November 01, 2002.

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