Interesting videos from Reason tv.
Posted May 11, 2011on:
“The government is bailing out the banks…but who’s going to bail out the government?” asks Texas cotton farmer Ken Gallaway, a vocal critic of agricultural subsidies that cost U.S. taxpayers and consumers billions of dollars a year in direct payments and higher prices for farm goods.
Agricultural subsidies were put in place in the 1930s during the Great Depression, when 25 percent of Americans lived on farms. At the time, Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace called them “a temporary solution to deal with an emergency.” Those programs are still in place today, even though less than 1 percent of Americans currently live on farms that are larger, more efficient, and more productive than ever before.
Consider these facts. Ninety percent of all subsidies go to just five crops: corn, rice, cotton, wheat, and soybeans. Two thirds of all farm products—including perishable fruits and vegetables—receive almost no subsidies. And just 10 percent of recipients receive 75 percent of all subsidies. A program intended to be a “temporary solution” has become one of our government’s most glaring examples of corporate welfare.
U.S. taxpayers aren’t the only ones who pay the price. Cotton subsidies, for example, encourage overproduction which lowers the world price of cotton. That’s great for people who buy cotton, but it’s disastrous for already impoverished cotton farmers in places such as West Africa.
U.S. farm programs cost taxpayers billions each year, significantly raise the price of commodities such as sugar (which is protected from competition from other producers in other countries), undermine world trade agreements, and contribute to the suffering of poor farmers around the world. It’s bad public policy, especially in these troubled economic times.
“Agricultural Subsidies: Corporate Welfare for Farmers” is hosted by Reason.tv’s Nick Gillespie and is approximately 8.30 minutes long. The producer-writer is Paul Feine and the producer-editor is Roger Richards.
For an audio podcast version, go here.
Los Angeles (May 3, 2011) — As the federal government rapidly approaches the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, 96 percent of Americans say it is important to reduce the national debt, according to a new Reason Foundation-Rupe poll. Of those surveyed, 69 percent believe reducing the national debt is “very important.”
With the debt piling up, it is also clear that taxpayers do not trust the federal government to live within its means. In fact, the Reason-Rupe survey finds 74 percent of Americans support implementing a spending cap that would prohibit the government from spending more money than it takes in during a fiscal year. Only 19 percent oppose a government spending cap.
The most popular policy prescription for reducing the national debt is spending cuts: 45 percent of people say Congress should bring down the debt by reducing spending without raising taxes. Another 16 percent favor reducing the debt primarily through spending cuts, but are open to some tax increases; 14 percent prefer an equal emphasis on spending cuts and tax increases; 8 percent want to reduce the debt primarily through higher taxes with some spending cuts; 4 percent say current spending levels should be maintained and taxes should be raised as needed; and 1 percent of Americans say we shouldn’t do anything about the debt.
Open-Ended Questions on the Economy and Spending
The Reason-Rupe poll included several open-ended questions that allowed respondents to voice concerns and share their own ideas. When asked to name the biggest problem facing America today, 30 percent say the economy, 23 percent name jobs and unemployment, and 10 percent cite government spending, debts and deficits.
When given the opportunity to name any government program they’d like to spend less money on 22 percent of Americans suggest cutting military and defense spending. Welfare (10 percent) and foreign aid (10 percent) were the other most-named cuts. When asked, open-ended, what the government should spend more money on, 39 percent say education, 16 percent focus on helping the poor and needy, and 13 percent single out health care.
2012 Presidential Election
With the 2012 election season ramping up, frustrated voters appear ready to look beyond Democratic and Republican candidates. Eighty percent say they will or may consider voting for a third-party or independent presidential candidate in 2012. And an even higher number of independents (89 percent) and GOP voters (86 percent) say they will or may consider candidates outside of the two major political parties.
The willingness to look beyond Democrats and Republicans stems, in part, from voters’ lack of trust in them. When asked which political party they trust to govern responsibly, the leading answer was “neither,” at 35 percent, followed by Democrats at 31 percent and Republicans at 23 percent. The survey also found 58 percent of voters believe they’d either see “no difference” or be “better off” if Congress were only in session every other year.
Having recently filed their federal income taxes, 56 percent of Americans support replacing the current complicated tax system with a flat tax. Forty-four percent also favor, and 36 percent oppose, giving up the mortgage interest deduction and other tax breaks if it results in a simpler system with lower overall tax rates. One tax change that respondents are against is a national sales tax. Just 33 percent of Americans support replacing federal income taxes with a national sales tax.
When asked about the amount of federal, state, local and property taxes they pay, 51 percent of Americans say they pay too much in taxes, 41 percent believe they pay about the right amount and 4 percent think they pay too little.
Public Sector Benefits and Pensions
Half of all respondents say that public sector workers receive better benefits that those with similar jobs in the private sector, but only 37 percent support cutting those public employee benefits to help balance state budgets.
Drug Legalization and Medical Marijuana
Forty-one percent of the country supports legalizing small quantities of marijuana for personal use, while 44 percent opposes legalization. And in the wake of federal raids on medical cannabis dispensaries in states where medical marijuana has already been legalized, 69 percent of Americans say each state should be allowed to regulate medical marijuana use within its borders.