Friday, November 22, 2013

"The Insanity of our Food Policy"

Don't miss Joseph Stiglitz's piece under that headline in The New York Times Opinionator section this week.  Here's a paragraph that sums up his complaints about proposed changes to the farm bill and how they would deepen inequality in our nation.  It also happens to be one of the best explanations of "rent seeking" that I have ever read:
The proposal is a perfect example of how growing inequality has been fed by what economists call rent-seeking. As small numbers of Americans have grown extremely wealthy, their political power has also ballooned to a disproportionate size. Small, powerful interests — in this case, wealthy commercial farmers — help create market-skewing public policies that benefit only themselves, appropriating a larger slice of the nation’s economic pie. Their larger slice means everyone else gets a smaller one — the pie doesn’t get any bigger — though the rent-seekers are usually adept at taking little enough from individual Americans that they are hardly aware of the loss. While the money that they’ve picked from each individual American’s pocket is small, the aggregate is huge for the rent-seeker. And this in turn deepens inequality.
Meanwhile, as Stiglitz points out, House Republicans who would continue to line the pockets of agribusiness with subsidies on crop insurance premiums, would cut the food stamp program, which currently provides most recipients only about $4/day.  

No comments: