Digest – Commentary: Hog ownership, corn growers on defensive

starFace up to your meat: "Very soon, a farmer and his son will come to the farm to kill our two pigs," writes Verlyn Klinkenborg. "If that sentence bothers you, you should probably stop reading now — and you should probably also stop eating pork." (New York Times)

Lobbying is for lobbyists: National Corn Growers Association president Ron Litterer complains that the new film "King Corn" is an attempt to influence the Food and Farm Bill debate. So? Shouldn’t everyone be trying, given that all Americans are affected by the bill? Second, it’s kind of funny to hear Litterer’s lip-flapping considering that "NCGA is the VOICE for the corn grower’s concerns in national legislative, judicial and regulatory agencies’ decisions affecting agriculture." What do they have to fear from a little indie movie by three nice boys? (Hoosier Ag Today)

Stick to your areas of expertise, Freakanomics dude: Stephen Leavitt sees organic beef jerky and jokes "Next up we’ll have organic chewing tobacco and organic Pringles." (New York Times Blog)

Hogging the trough: A columnist looks at pigs and taxes. In the last 14 years, the 20 largest hog producers have tripled their ownership of sows (to over 3 million sows), now owning more than half of the nation’s total, and producing 55 to 60 percent of all pigs. On the subject of the estate tax, the proposal for an unlimited exemption for farmland could easily be abused. (Dubuque Telegraph Herald)


2 Responsesto “Digest – Commentary: Hog ownership, corn growers on defensive”

  1. I find the estate tax distinctly unreasonable.
    We are taxed when we earn the money.
    We are taxed when we spend the money.
    We are taxed when we save the money.
    We are taxed when we die with the money.
    There are fees left and right for this and that.

    It’s all about the government deciding how they’re going to spend our money and how we’re going to live our lives. Rubs me the wrong way. The people who earn a lot simply hire lobbyists and fancy accountants/lawyers to make sure they don’t pay taxes. The system doesn’t work.

    Let’s start from scratch.
    Eliminate all subsidies.
    Eliminate all deductions.
    Flat 10% tax on all income over $10,000 per person in a household.
    Flat 10% tax on all sales.
    No other taxes.
    No other fees.
    Government must live within the budget that produces.
    Government doesn’t regulate our personal lives, doesn’t define marriage, doesn’t tell us right from wrong.
    That’s it. Simple. Straight forward.

  2. “The system doesn’t work.”

    I absolutely agree with that statement. The work of journalist David Kay Johnston at the New York Times has clearly shown that the rich can get away with murder when it comes to taxes. (see, for example, his book “Perfectly Legal,” or the Frontline show called Tax Me If You Can)

    I don’t agree with your assessment of the estate tax. When you write “We are taxed when we die with the money,” the “we” in the above phrase is only a tiny fraction of the public — about 0.5 to 1% — those that have net worths in the many million dollars (the current exemption is something like $5 million before you pay any estate tax, and from there on it is a graduated rate) and have not done reasonable estate planning to give legally allowed gifts to family members. How the general public was convinced that most people pay the estate tax is one of the great public relations maneuvers of the last few decades. (Some facts here from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)

    With appropriate exemptions — let’s say $10 or 20 million per person, with special exemptions for farms and small businesses — the estate tax is a way of preventing the creation of an aristocracy. It is a way for the ultra-rich to give something back to the society that made their wealth possible. As smart as Bill Gates or Sam Walton might be, do you think that they would have been as successful in Nigeria or Uruguay, places without the modern infrastructure, relatively uncorrupt government, transparent markets, and excellent legal system that the nation provides?