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Thursday, May 15, 2008

We will wake up tomorrow in Utopia!!

The long search for Utopia has now come to an end. Tomorrow, May 16, 2008, will be the first day of a new era for humanity, or at least those with sufficient lobbyists on K-street. What will be the impetus for Humanity 2.0? Evidently it's the 2008 Farm Bill, otherwise known as The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008.

Now, how do we really know that starting tomorrow we can leave our doors unlocked and go ahead and fire all the policy? Because Congress has discovered the solution to scarcity, which means two things: evidently we can implement pure socialism and us economists are out of a job. For proof we turn to Senator Tom Harkin, who helped fabricate the monstrosity:

"This bill benefits every American, from our smallest towns to our biggest cities, urban and rural residents, farmers and non-farmers."

Well, that about solves it. Whew.

However, we know we won't really wake up in Utopia because the statement of Tom Harkin is missing one important word: "net."

A good politician, which I take for granted Sen. Harkin is, knows that if the quote had read "This bill provides net benefits for every American..." then at least some people would smell a rat. How can a bill provide net benefits for every American, unless we impose net negative benefits on some non-Americans?

While the Farm Bill may well impose negative net benefits on some non-Americans, it is much more likely that the benefits of the bill will be distributed unequally in across the U.S. population. Some Americans will receive large net benefits (mainly the agricultural industry) but a lot of other Americans will suffer small and large net negative benefits. This is the nature of all laws, but I think it is a stretch for the politicians to claim that every person in America stands to benefit from an agriculture bill.

Indeed, there are very few laws that might be characterized as providing net benefits to everyone in America (if not immediately, then certainly over time): perhaps the Bill of Rights, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Civil Rights Act of 1965 are examples. Somehow I have a feeling that in forty years we as a society won't be looking back on the 2008 Farm Bill in the same way as we do the Civil Rights Act.

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