Shortly after learning about the merits of fiscal conservatism, one of the first things I became curious about was “subsidies.”
It seemed absurd; giving money to a business (or any entity for that matter) for a lack of success. My first thoughts were obviously “what on earth for?”
It must be something about the Vermonter in me, since fellow Vermonter – President Calvin Coolidge – felt the same way. For those wondering, I am speaking about the first of the now many agricultural subsidies that plague the United States yearly budget… Coolidge opposed these.
I decided this first article should be written in a fashion that compliments the advice of Being Libertarian editor-in-chief, Martin van Staden.
In an article published a couple months ago (at least at the time of writing this article) he advised young writers to “begin with your conclusion.” It’s good advice. In a nutshell, that’s exactly what I’ve done – both with the title and these first few sentences.
I have concluded that in a society that has evolved towards “participation trophies,” we have become so decadent, that we (as a society) now reward failure with the earnings of the successful – or at least the hard-working.
Let’s start with some of the early research I did for this article.
I Googled questions like “how much does the American tax payer spend in subsidies every year?” There were several versions of that question before I started getting answers. The numbers I was looking at made my eyes hurt. It was like chopping red onions on a 90 degree day.
An article by The Heritage Foundation found that many farms that needed the money the least were averaging around $1 million in tax payer funded programs – per farm!
Because these farms are HUGE (or “YUGE” if you are a Trump supporter) this also brings us to big business subsidies.
In 2013 The Federalist posted an article on this very subject. It concluded that the average American family spent $2,436 on some form of corporate welfare to businesses that by no means needed that money.
Within this was also the mention of energy subsidies. Multiple sources were pretty consistent on this one.
Americans – as a whole – spend between $16.4 and $16.6 billion per year on energy subsidies. (Side note: I didn’t record the dates for all these articles so the price gap between those two numbers could reflect fluctuations from year to year.)
I could go on but since this is just the introduction (and, as I mentioned before, also a conclusion) I want to simply set the stage. I want you to see what it is that has motivated me to write this series.
Outside of my fledgling writing career, I am a cook. I make pizzas and sandwiches. If I don’t sell as many pizzas and sandwiches as I did, say…last month, I certainly wouldn’t get a raise. I shouldn’t! That would just be ridiculous.
So why then, in the name of all that is good and holy, are we giving rewards for nothing?
In the case of failing businesses, shouldn’t we allow them to fail? That isn’t cruel, it is natural selection. Either the demand for their product is small (or non-existent) or is being out performed by a business with a better version of said product, or possibly just a better business model – or both!
In the case of businesses that are already successful, the question (and answer) should be even more painfully obvious… why the hell are we giving them money?
What’s worse is that only a handful of politicians are talking about these unjustifiable subsidies, and often these are not politicians we – as libertarians – want to help or support. (Yes Bernie, I am talking to you, even a broken clock is right twice a day.)
So that is why I am writing this series over the next several months (or possibly over the next year): to expose not just the individual subsidy for the scam that it is, but the intertwined nature of these subsidies and how we – as the American voter – have let it happen, as if it’s no more obvious than a silent and odorless fart.
How a number of powerful people combined the human need for abundant energy, food & water and way to make a living in a modern economy, into nothing more than a perverse pyramid scheme.
Finally, at the conclusion of this series, I want to discuss what we can and should be doing to change this sickening system.
So please join me over the upcoming months as I break down these different subsidies; these rewards for failure, these slaps in the face of hard working producers everywhere.
I hope this series enlightens you, as much as researching it has enlightened me.
About the author: I started writing libertarian politics and philosophy shortly after joining the Libertarian Party in November of 2016. My political influences are Justin Amash, Ron and Rand Paul, Friedrich Hayek and Barry Goldwater. You can find me actively debating perfect strangers at my Facebook writers page and Twitter (FB: @BryceJacksonBlog and Twitter: @brycejacksoncvt). I also run a blog featuring my writings on my political beliefs and semi-autobiographical short stories. I rescue dogs, take care of a veteran and hunt unicorns… the meat tastes like sherbet.
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